28: What is a website plan and why you need one?

28: What is a website plan and why you need one?

Creating content for your business can be touch when you are busy doing everything else.

In todays episode, we talk about how to get content written for your site so you don't have to do it yourself.

Resources for this Episode

Online version Website Planning Guide

Buy ebook or paperback version (and get access to the closed FaceBook group): The Complete Website Planning Guide

Darryl:                    We get together weekly talk about all things online especially for small and medium business owners or executives who still refer to their website as their bloody website each week we aim to tackle a range of online issues and put them in plain language so anyone can understand how to make their websites work better for their businesses Episode 28 What is a Website Plan and Why you Use one. Hello Edmund

Edmund:                Hey Darryl how are you? This one is gonna be very close to your heart I'm sure

Darryl:                    It is it is okay so a couple of weeks ago three weeks ago oh look at that look what have you got there on the video show

Edmund:                I'm holding up called the complete website planning guide by author Darryl King

Darryl:                    well there we go okay two things we talked about in our WordPress theme issue that people choose a theme and then try to wedge is what they want into it and I mentioned back then that if they had a better idea about what they wanted they might choose a theme that works for them and this whole topic comes from all years of building stuff one of the biggest problems you try to solve is how to make a project run well how to be able to quote something really well and how to make sure that their client gets what they're expecting and so that that's where their book eventually came from all the problems that went with running design development getting briefs and things going but coming all the way around to looking at it from the client perspective so you the business owner you the marketing person about what is the plan for a website so just for clarity you could call it a scope you can call it a brief you can call it planning call what you like it's a blueprint about what you're trying to do when looking at building the website or improving a website

Edmund:                yeah and

Darryl:                    and that’s (…1:49) so some could call it a brief some could call it a scope plan is simple it's a plan I think its super important but (…1:59)

Edmund:                yeah I mean absolutely and I think that the important thing to recognize here is that what you're talking about at the end of the day is just to spend some time thinking about it spend some time thinking about the website properly and not having it as an afterthought thinking oh we just need to have the website just copy this do that just get it up whatever it is let's think about how we can make this the best possible website

Darryl:                    Yeah, you know when you're an accountant you know or a coach or whatever you talk to business owners and executives about business plans and marketing plans or all of these plans people do and you know that they run their businesses by and strategies and implementation plans and you're one of the most vocal assets of marketing and of business support services and everything in a digital age and an information age it's a website and yet people rock up with the pre fest of brief summaries or some of the things I've heard like I just copy that site or

Edmund:                mm-hmm

Darryl:                    you know I don't really want a lot of content people don't read comments so all these assumptions and ideas that they turn up with and go I just need a new website

Edmund:                so if we're telling people that they need a website plan why don't you tell us or give us some insight into what should be included in the website plan what is actually in it because some people have no idea

Darryl:                    okay well you it's a lot like a marketing document to some degree like you have to summarize and and I think sometimes gets missed a lot and sometimes it's the only focal point but each business has unique needs they actually have needs things that need to get done so for example if I'm offering a warranty service and we've said that all warranty claims are gonna be done online then it is they need a must have as I call them a need that we have a warranty form submission process and way to check there and response mechanism that's part of it now there'll be tools that might not be directly on your website it might feed through to our ticketing system it might go to an offline I don't that's but that's a need that your business must have so it's got to include things like that it's got to include oh we're gonna have product sales it's got to have you know feed it through to our point-of-sale system because we were gonna have it live inventory so there are things like that that you need to outline before you even start to say well actually you need these things like they're not they're not maybe they're not oh bugger we've just build it and I forgot to tell you we need to integrate with that point-of-sale system because they're critical to what decisions will be made all right so so there's the master it's the needs that you've got to have and I think I need to be really clear on what results you want okay so if you build a marketing plan or a business plan you say what the outcomes are going to be we're going to increase profitability by this much we want to generate this much revenue this much margin well what we want to reduce expenses by this much over 18 months or we want to purchase a building plan you make whatever your business plan and your marketing plan whatever they involve they have detail of them about what the outcomes are gonna be so what's the outcome gonna be well we wanna get more leads we want more sales we wanna we wanna reduce friction in client support we want a whatever and and you ideally get them to be something you could measure so we want to be able to provide warranty support information within five minutes of someone landing on our site rather than sitting in a queue talking to someone taking 12 minutes whatever it might be how many send out we might want people were out of place in order wholesale order wholesale prices on their their account on credit and do it you know within this many minutes or we might want to increase the percentage of it we just might want more sales whatever that is so got outcomes so we've got needs must apps and outcomes and then the next thing that a plan was going to include is who the heck is your audience who is this site for and going into some depth about them and so that includes however you like to phrase it they can be simple outlines of your into your personas and 3d models of people and all sorts of things you can have customer journey mapping whatever level we want to go to but the end of the day you need to be able to outline who the audience is and what's unique about them because if you are targeting a site for children and 12 to 14 a gaming site or whatever it might be there is gonna be an aesthetic and some devices that appeal that audience that will not appeal to some crusty old internet hacks like us you've got glasses and big front and all these things like that there's gonna be different devices different coloring you know all sorts of things that we'll need the people that are gonna design and build this need that information if you're gonna produce something that works so those are these are critical things so we haven't even talked about theme CMS color images content we're talking about what's critical to the business just like a business plan or a marketing plan

Edmund:                Hmm now I know we often joke about that with people starting with the design first before they even think of those issues but should the plan include some reference to aesthetic elements

Darryl:                    in my opinion no or not the bulk of the plan yes there needs to be a lot of consideration about it but let's just assume for a second dangerous as is you have some brand material the problem with getting into what something's going to look like before we even understand what we need can determine material choice and size and availability so if you need Chrome if everything's got to have a chrome look to it on the web that's really hard to do digitally basically going to use a lot of images and things chrome is the really hard effect to pull off I know this because years ago we did a Holden thing and you know like that it was all chrome logos and stuff now what that means is if performance is one of the criteria speed and stuff for you but you can't get the design effect that you've laid out because of the decisions you made in the design effect you were compromising on something which you said was a priority for you and yet you made all these decisions first versus these are all the things we need this is the design elements that are important to us and then you allow creativity to answer the problem and I think that's the view I come from is that making something look good is actually quite easy or we're you know designers are cringing at this point if you have that's a clarifier the right information if you know what you're designing correctly then you can apply your creativity to do it but when you don't have enough of everything if you don't have a content if you don't have guidelines to the structure just leaping in with design really can create some major problems once you go hey these are all the things I need this is ideas how we think this might be laid out you know this is how the structure the whole thing comes together you allow creative designers the ability to get on with what they do instead of the opposite which is because getting a design done up front and design aesthetics laid out in colors and things before you get anywhere near what's needed is a bit like picking a theme off the show

Edmund:                yep

Darryl:                    now if you're in a big corporate look is just that, your brain you know what the colors are roughly gonna be the logo that's all gonna follow through I don't think the rest is that important you know I think that's the big mistake the biggest mistake is that people get an initial design done by a developer and then everything else spans off from that including content and all the rest and it's a common mistake it happens all the time it's the way everything's approached got a rough site map I do design now let's get everything else together I think you're better to come at it differently

Edmund:                yeah now you're an expert at website planning but you know the average business owner may not be awesome at it and they're trying to do their best how do you suggest they deal with the issue of you know they've got a plan and they're web developer or designer is kind of running roughshod and trying to tell them hey this is better and because they're trying to shovel in are really easy to build Theme and stuff how do you how do you recommend that the business owner deal with that

Darryl:                    oh look well I think if they do the planning properly then there's no debate so I think I think if you invest the time and doing the plan properly you have confidence in the decisions you've made so we're not you're not talking about you know high-level agency things I mean what we're trying to avoid is that a development team or an agency come at you and say look here's the brief document we want you to fill in and on that it's got you know if you or a car what type of car are you you know if you were a foodstuff you know are you hot or cold you know if you're a font are you this or that now that might be great in the branding exercise but it's not great and helping you get a functional high-performing website so we want to avoid those sorts of things we want to avoid the designer going well I mean oh sorry I stopped when you have a plan you have the power to choose the developer so if you get a plan done if you write your plan out with enough detail that it answers the most critical questions you didn't get the opportunity to go out and go hey three or four developers is it then based on that feedback that you're getting so Jane comes back says yeah the third now that doesn't make any sense do this do this do this you get the ability to query that and go hang on a minute like it sends to me like these people are just gonna throw us into a theme they're not giving us necessarily what we want and I can't see there were too many areas in a well-constructed plan where they can just throw everything away what you really wanting is look I need you know like your plan if you're not an technical experts of this this is probably important clarification to I the way I could write a plan or a scope is gonna be a lot more detailed than say a business owner because I'm gonna think about some of the technical outcomes as well I'm gonna think about when you fill in a contact form that there's gonna be notifications there might be messages on screen we want things to go through what's important is that you you can write it in plain language we want people to be able to contact us through three mediums a form phone and a pop-up chat window okay like live chat and we want to be able to make sure that each of these mechanisms gets responded to promptly okay so that's like a business thing anyone can say that so then that that's all the plan that you've got a good development team in a valuing that before they quote and in the quoting process would go okay well hang on a second let's break those down phone you've got that covered we'll put phone on there, we'll make sure the phone number clicked on and that's fine you answer it or don't we can't control it contact form we're gonna do the person might have said I just want an email address now good developer might say hang on a minute why don't we put a form not an email address that way we can cut down on spam you go okay that's great and just get in it my plan to say we're gonna put a contact form it's going to submit to email so again if it gets enhanced then they go now why don't we talk about this live chat box, good development team will go do you realize what that involves do you want something like this or like that we've worked with a couple of different products or tools but how many staff member are you gonna have in them pool/phone to answer how often is it going to be there because it could create frustrations do you want it to auto pop up or not blah-blah-blah-blah-blah so if your plan isn't as technically detail the developer and you can help flesh that out a bit more so it becomes more specific with the technical stuff

Edmund:                Hmmm

Darryl:                    you don’t have to know all the answers if they've just come in a guy I don’t want a chat box chat boxes don't set of anything they're not listening to you you've said look we've seen them on a lot of sites but what we do know is we experimented on the site and we got 12 percent conversion improvement on these two services when we put one on right you've already trialed that you put it in there because it's a must-have and so when your must have a list it says we want this and for that reason the developers not reading the documents or paying attention they're not a developer you want to work with anyway but also you just ask the question I know we've got yeah so you don't have to write everything technically but you should have thought through stuff and part of the plan a lot of people miss out is that I write this summary stuff Ed all right oh yeah we run your website it's got to do these basic thing

Edmund:                yeah

Darryl:                    actually quite down into detail

Edmund:                okay so it sounds like this you know this is a lot of good upsides for these plans so I'm you're telling me it's good so I'm the business owner you need to convince me so what are the real benefits of doing like what am I gonna seriously just call it out what are the big issues that I'm gonna avoid if I do if I do a plan right do this right

Darryl:                    Okay so a phrase that you can hear as a developer is a client could say look it's not quite what I expected or you know it's just not you know you can tell the end of someone likes what they've got they're happy with the results so you want to avoid that right you wanna what the way to avoid that as the business owner is if you can clearly articulate it so I'm sorry I got that if someone said to me I'm not really happy with the design a concept it's not what I had in my mind then I would say we've broken down somehow are getting that out of their mind

Edmund:                right

Darryl:                    we have an ask the right questions then I would articulate it so there's a clear thing that didn't get communicated but if you take that across the whole website if it's missing content or pages or functionality well you know you're going to avoid that the site doesn't work properly or for your needs you can avoid those things that you definitely need so if if it's if it's not fulfilling a particular requirement a must-have that you know you need but you didn't tell anyone you're going to avoid that poor quality because what can happen is people spend a lot of the budget on design they can spend it on things that don't matter and you miss out on the quality or there's so much back and forward over the homepage design you burn up all the allocated hours so all the other pages are just rushed through you know the functionality is cut so we're good here or the alternative it is if in the causes in your contracts you know you've asked for stuff which wasn't clearly outlined and what you told them then that becomes overruns or an additional cost so you could avoid them because if you have something concise clear it's exactly what I want if they don't Quote properly it's their problem (16:50) there it is you quoted you said it's fixed price quote it's in the spec I deliver it you break relationships so that you know good people on both sides but it becomes a real fighting point when you're planning heads in the relationship between you the business owner and the developer can really go per show when you know there could be people you really want to work with long time but it's ours the relationship from not being clear and then there's lost opportunities to if you don't include things that could prove your business if you don't build a problem with SEO mine or e-commerce functions or mobile or security and it just doesn't happen you're just missing opportunity so those are those are some things that you can avoid

Edmund:                do you know Darryl sounds a lot like building a house right if if I had a plan and a contract when I was building my house it avoid very many of the same issues that you just outlined

Darryl:                    yeah well in the book I talk about it with Grand Designs Oh have you ever watched Grand Designs there's two sites to it those that use an architect them those that go out on their own is deal and invariably the ones that go out on their own they have lots of hiccups along the way it cost some way more now the ones of the architects still get problems because as you know building a house as soon as you break ground the rules change right like you know there's rock down there no I'm anticipated cost happen or there's a problem or some part of land subsides in that you know you get additional costs but they're handled with the help of an expert and an architect and really what a plan is is the architectural drawings for a website the detail this is where the wiring goes and where the plumbing goes is how many rooms it's gonna have there's how many levels it's gonna have this is the quality of materials we want so that way a builder is able to estimate properly you turn there and go here's the ground let's all just work on hourly rate and let's get moving I can guarantee you it's not going to go to plan but that's kind of what happens so the other problem that is people come to it so if you come to a building like that how do people come to a website well they come to it like well that website over there I just want that I want mine like that but just with our branding that's copy that song whatever

Edmund:                Yeah well that's exactly what I was in my next question for you I was like if I'm gonna put together a plan that's gonna be an effective plan what do I wanna not do when I'm putting this plan together what do I avoid

Darryl:                    yeah well I mean a lot of the things like not having enough like making a to brief so a brief brief or saying copy that site there the wrong way to approach it and even to the point like I know everyone has a budget so you having a budget is one thing I have a budget for the house I'm going to buy but if I only look a trick when you're looking for houses is you look for a range that's bigger because some of those people can come down I don't always realize what I can get but if I limit what I'm looking at I only get them the filters I look at the way I think is you should be as a business owner or marketing executive looking and planning for the most detail for the best outcome for the business now if you can't get that built for the budget you have then you and the people quoting can make decisions about what can I remove today that I can budget for later and this comes down to using an off-the-shelf theme getting someone to help here I don't have the budget today for a custom design but that doesn't mean that I haven't worked out I need 27 pages with all this functionality what I'm looking for now is not a custom designer but a theme that will allow me to do this but you don't know that if you don't plan so you want to get into detail page by page detail on what that page has got to do so that so when I talked a bit earlier about people kind of do the top-level hey look I want this I want it in WordPress I want that stay away from those sorts of specifics and get into the specifics of I've outlined the pages we believe we need for the site each page is broken down in detail and look I'm gonna link in the resources there is a free copy of the book available it was the beta release if you like the unedited version it's a full website all 20,000 words you can get on there, it's got templates and resources on how to Site map how to scope out individual pages and think about them there's a few different examples like a sports bar and legal services well you just how to think about what pages you need but specifically what detail should go on that page and then how to document it out and you know take bits from that do what you want but get don't just go oh yeah those pages are all the same think about the page content think about the purpose of each page what gold is a page have think about every page like a landing page and write it that way then you have this massive per for of words and things laid out then you can wire frame you can draft out ideas on paper which some people do they come with the ideas but they haven't thought about the end result properly or they haven't documented the functionality because that's the bit that costs the money right creating basic pages doesn't cost anything so get into that level of detail and don't use statements like I'm not gonna have much content Oh people don't want many pages I just want one page blah blah well think about what your audience needs for you and what your business needs and work out from there and once you've got it all then you get the honest discussions right then you turn up in the developers says you know it's gonna cost you 12 K oh okay I've only got four K okay okay all right then you a you can compare quotes but too you can look at what things can remove today that are not emergency needs that I can add later and to get me into my budget

Edmund:                that sounds awesome sounds like a plan

Darryl:                    sounds like a plan yes I mean it's just about like you said it's like if you're gonna go on a journey right if you're gonna drive from Brisbane to Sydney very few people just get in the car and pull out of the driver I go what next they know that the difference between north and south I know were there going they've thought about where am I gonna stay when I get there how much petrol money am I gonna need they have a basic and yet they probably chosen the highway they're gonna go down right there's different routes which route and for what reason this one's more direct this one's faster but more rural and more you know tricky to drive whatever you you have a plan you don't start without an end in mind and it's the same with this I think that's the biggest mistake people are making

Edmund:                yeah I I think that if more people were honest with themselves the reality is most of them are just being lazy when it comes to this right they they know they need a website but the reality is they're just too lazy to spend a bit of time planning upfront right and the reality is if they stop and think about all the times that they've done this in the past and it's come back to bite them in the barn because the developer says no or the developer says that's gonna cost more or that's not what I expected then they can honestly say that it came to the fact that they didn't do proper planning like anything in life right

Darryl:                    well and let me let me put this to you the reason I wrote that book and came up with some templates isn't because I necessary have all the answers but I looked for over 20 years to find a framework that existed useful templates now I've seen all sorts of tender briefs and documents and I've seen recent ones where people put lots of energy into documents that invariably are repetitive don't give me all the answers and then I got to say to someone you know what it's going to take me four or five hours to pull us apart and where you put it back together I'm gonna bill you for that to make this a worker well oh and I put all the stuff it's got everything in there so I get but this has to go to the development design team it has to be structured and there just weren't and to be pivoted as there aren't many frameworks out there or any real saw a lot of them can be highly technical there like a program a document all they'll say well it must be w3c compliant and WordPress and all these things but they're not addressing the core issues I agree 100% with you that most people are lazy they want a magic bullet around this topic because they think it's just easy and they're lazy thinking not lazy people because the value that are well performing website provides is well worth the effort but because no one's saying you know what I won't work on unless we have this all agency just go you know what they just put money into the price to sit with you and talk to her and effectively what they're doing is creating it on the fly

Edmund:                yeah

Darryl:                    but that doesn't allow you to do the right stuff now imagine this imagine that you have a 57 page website right it's quite a few pages you know you know 27 different products you've got service offering got support warranty if you don't start with a proper plan how the heck are you gonna get all the right content written correctly and know the images and everything else but you aren’t and so what happens is the builds going on and then everyone's going oh we need content for this page you know any pitches for that and it's all being done Ad hoc it's delaying the project you're getting cranky because the jobs no the developers had to put it on hold four times but you just can't do it like if you stand back logically and think you wouldn't do it that way but that's what is being done

Edmund:                I think everyone can speak from experience to say that they've been involved in some way shape or form with a with a debacle like that in the past and I'm pretty confident you know

Darryl:                    yeah and look you know everyone what look everyone wants to get going when you get the energy and momentum in a project you go great will get in your website boss wants everyone wants it hey where's the designs it's really unsexy and sit down for six weeks writing documents and sharing them with a team guy are you sure and doing it but you know really smart teams go extensive things with you know user experience maps and trying to do research and and you see posted now it's moving everywhere yes you can get to that level but I've worked with some pretty big teams on very very large projects I can guarantee you even the documentation and stuff on a lot of those projects becomes 45 percent of them they don't provide it all you get oh yeah well we wouldn't do them on the fly like it's just the initial stuff and and invariably it's missing key pieces and what happens is the projects are normally behind because a lot of it is left to debate and discussion in build not (pry27:06) and build whereas not that you're not gonna have flexibility and change in build but you're just talking about options well as I'm implementing this I'm finding that it's gonna be problematic and this browser or it's not gonna quite do what the brief said it was here's an option oh you know so you but instead of how we gonna do this oh it's taking two weeks extra because we didn't have the opportunity to work it out in advance and you know like well we can't afford that we're gonna go back to the client for all account manager goes and talks to someone or the freelancer you know a lot of the freelancers on a number of sites if you ask them I've been getting a lot of feedback from the book freelancers love it is because they weren't asking for briefs up front and they do fix price quotes then there's all this hidden stuff they don't hear about and they get held to ransom because the money is not disavowed to them until the job's finished so they have to do this work for nothing so people are basically ripping people off by being lazy

Edmund:                excellent so in summary if we were to summarize that A it is critical that you do a plan upfront it'll save you a whole lot of pain and suffering down the track and if you're gonna do a plan here's a couple of things you wanna include

Darryl:                    include the book

Edmund:                you can buy the book but at a very basic level you wanna include what are those three or four items

Darryl:                    right she want, you want, you needs what your business needs the results you want who the audience is and and basically break out all the pages you want and a rough idea of the content that's gonna go on them and a bit of a map and you can get all of that for free at guide. Ireckon.com they'll be a link so guide. Ireckon.com it's a free website all the templates are up there all of words are up there the guide you can do the whole thing for free there's a printed an ebook version if you prefer to read it that way but you can go through the whole website and learn the fundamentals of how to plan all it's all available

Edmund:                and I should point out that you didn't hear anywhere that he said you needed pretty sliders and this and that and all the bells and whistles they come last or if at all

Darryl:                    yeah and yeah we know they do their important part of a project we've got a follow-up book it's gonna come about how to compliment your plan with the development team how to go through that process there's gonna be information about taking it and getting the design you want all sort of things

Edmund:                wonderful so you reckon we've wrapped it up to today Darryl

Darryl:                    I reckon

Edmund:                wonderful awesome that's it for today thank you again for listening we really appreciate having you along for this ride if you wanna see these show notes you get the resources the Darryl talked about and get notified when new episodes go live just visit bloodywebsite.com or subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or stitcher also if you enjoyed the podcast please leave a review in iTunes it really helps other people find the podcast we hope to see you next week when we continue this chat about my bloody website it's goodbye from me

Darryl:                    It’s goodbye from him