Test Your Web Site Design Plan in Advance
Many website owners make one very big and costly mistake. They wait until their website is live on the Internet to start the testing process. Don't make that mistake. You can test out your blueprint before you construct your website by simply using some free tools and your imagination.
1) Who are your potential website customers?
First of all, you must ask yourself why people would buy what you sell.
For example, Cathy came to me with a website that didn't work. She'd paid two web page designers already, with no success and was hesitant to spend again.
Glen was too busy to manage a website, but wanted a site that would work with offline materials to achieve offline growth through his website.
Peter had been approached by a search engine optimizer. His goal was increasing leads via search engines without text that sounded moronic because of heavy use of 'SEO' copywriting, which often does well in the search engines, but doesn't sell.
My website needs to answer the varied questions and concerns of all my potential customers, no matter what their specific concern is. So does yours.
2) Create an imaginary customer.
Figure out the reasons people would buy from you. The problems they need to solve. This is called profiling your potential customer.
Create three or four of those customer profiles. Or, more. Give each of them a name. Then, take off the developer's hat and put on the magnificent customer's hat. Pretend. Become your first character. Hit the web as that person, looking to solve the problem. What will you (as the customer) search for?
3) Check if you've guessed right.
Go to the Overture Search Tool and see how well you've guessed. Type in one basic term that sums up your business. (ie; weight loss, publishing, website, etc) and see which words people are actuallys searching for.
The tool is not infallible, but it's a good guide.
Here's an excellent example of why you can NOT skip this step.
One of my clients sells Mascots. He's created mascots for Sony and Kraft and many of the corporate giants.
A "search engine optimization" firm told him to focus on terms like "hocky mascots" and "corporate mascots," etc.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Demand for those terms is very low. Very, very low. If you go to the Overture tool, you'd see that only 79 people searched for the term "hocky mascot" in the last 30 days.
So, we did a little detective work. We found one term with an average of 6,000 searches per month and another with an average of 9,000 searches per month.
We then re-designed his website around those terms, and achieved numerous page one spots for the terms that his customers are actually searching for.
Imagine how awful it would have been if he had skipped this step and had his web page designed for terms that his customers are not even searching for!
Knowing who your customer is, and how they are seeking what you sell is part of effective website design planning.