If you are building a new website or refreshing an existing one, there are a few simple steps that you should take before the project begins.

Step 1: Pick 5 Websites You Love and 3 You Hate

Having a clear visual of what you want your site to have and not have is critical when working with designers and developers. Even the best of us have a hard time explaining what we want. Take screenshots and save the URLs of your favorite and least favorite sites and have a brief description of what it is about each that you want to integrate into your design.

You should have a document or notepad with all the design and functionality pieces that you want to have and want to avoid ready for your site builder.

Step 2: Create a Roadmap

Having a roadmap of all the moving pieces for your new site will include will let you and your designer properly structure your site and accurately estimate costs.

Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself when creating your roadmap:

Will I have a blog?

Do I need a forum or commenting features?

Will my site have interactive tools?

Do customers need to login?

Will customers be making purchases straight from my site?

Do I need education pages to explain concepts or different services?

Will I have videos?

Step 3: Decide What You Will and Won’t Do

Are you going to provide all the art and photos for your site? Will you be writing all the content? Will you be determining which keywords to use? Will you take the lead on SEO? Will you maintain the site? Will you update the blog regularly?

You certainly can learn how to do each of these items. But will you have the time and is that what you want to spend your time doing. Knowing what you’re committing to and what you’ll need to hire someone for will keep your site fresh and engaging to your audience.

At 2XM, we’ve built sites for businesses large and small and we help our clients work through these three steps every time.