How to Create a Site Outline

How to Create a Strategic Outline for Your Website

When I first meet with clients during a strategy session, one of my top priorities is to understand the basic outline of their site.

Understanding the basic outline and user flow of your site is just as important as a classy new design.

If you’re DIYing, this step can be taken on your own… but if you’re hiring a designer, you might want to first get some basic ideas down on pen and paper and save the final brainstorming for your first conversation together.

In my strategy sessions, I like to start by asking my clients:

What’s the number one goal of your website?

Sure, there are going to be a lot of goals and a lot of different functions throughout your site. And the site will certainly serve many purposes, but you want to get clear on that number ONE goal of your website.

What do you want to accomplish with your site?

What do you want your website visitors to DO when they get to your site?

What’s that top priority?

Most of my clients are coaches or service-based entrepreneurs, so my recommendation for them is to always steer towards growing their list.

More times than not, in their service-based profession, they’re not making a quick sale. They’re building a relationship. That will then hopefully lead to a sale after some nurturing. So you’d start that relationship by inviting them to join in your list. {more on that later}

Then, after you’re clear on that, you’ll want to think about the bare bones of your site.

You’ll probably want something similar to the following pages: Home, About, Services, Testimonials, Blog, Contact.

But maybe under Services you’ll also want 3 tiers of services that might lead to 3 new pages that aren’t in your navigation menu but accessible via a button once you reach your services page.

Maybe your About section invites them to a strategy session call. Maybe the Contact page does the same.

I recommend keeping the number of pages to a minimum. Less is always more. But you also want to make sure you’re granting your audience enough information, too.

Also remember pages aren’t set in stone either. You can add, tweak, merge and remove pages as you and your business grows. But when you’re just getting started with a design (and/or redesign) you’ll want to keep it simple.

This is definitely something your web designer can {and should} help you strategically plan out for your site.

And then just as we decided on a number one goal for your site, you’ll want to get clear on the goal of each page.

What action do you want your web visitors to take when they land to each page?

Your website visitors are begging for clear direction on where to go and what to do on your website.

Simplifying your site and your web visitors’ experience is vital. They want you to steer them in the right direction. It’s your job to do it strategically.

Imagine, if you’re trying to grow your list but you only have one opt-in form on your site that’s hard to find.

Imagine, if you’re trying to book strategy sessions, but web visitors can’t easily access the sign-up form.

Imagine, you’re a brick and mortar business but it’s difficult to find your physical location.

All of the above results in your potential customers and clients getting frustrated and going back to Google or the world of Facebook groups to the next referral. The one that has a simplified website that’s simple to navigate and where they can find all the information they need within a matter of seconds.

If you’re overwhelmed with this step, that’s okay. There’s a lot to think about here.

But to break it down, after you complete this step you’ll want to have the following on your list:

  • The number one goal of your websites.
  • The list of the pages you’d like on your website.
  • The number one goal for each page on your website.

That’s it for now 🙂

You don’t have to worry about what’s on each of these pages at this point in the process, you’ll just want to gather that 30,000 foot aerial view of the site and start thinking about the user experience.

And if you’re still overwhelmed, just create a super rough draft and hook up with a designer you love to help you refine it until it’s good to go.

Remember this outline will shift and evolve as your business does, so start with something simple and then give it permission to evolve over time.

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