Planning Your Website: One Key Step To Complete Before You Start Building

Me planning out my website wondering where to begin

When it comes to building a website, most of us want to jump right into the building part of the project: Creating pages, adding images and videos, and styling it with cool text and colors.

The problem with that? You end up with a site that had no process or strategy to help achieve the real reason you wanted to build a website in the first place.

This can be costly…You don't want to be re-doing your website 6 months later.

I've been there and done that. No bueno.

Over the past 7 years, I have refined my own strategy to help me build a foundation for designing a website on Squarespace: Creating a project brief.

You may have heard of something similar to this before. A project brief is a simple, yet effective way to set the direction for your project.

I use a brief for every website project I take on, no matter how big or small.

In this post, I'm going to share the 4 different sections to fill out in your project brief along with specific examples from my own brief. This will help you hit the ground running come design time and launch the perfect site.

The 4 sections to include in your project brief

Download my project brief template and fill it in as you go through this post. By the end, you'll have a solid plan for moving forward. Here are the 4 sections you will be working on:

  1. Why do you want a website?

  2. Website goals

  3. Inspiration websites

  4. Content outline

Watch a video

Watch this 4-minute video to see how I plan my websites using a project brief.

Section 1: Why do you want a website?

Ask yourself this question. “Why do I want a website?” It might seem funny at first, but a lot of people skip this question when designing their websites.

Most people know the fact they need a website in today's digital world. Yes, true. But why do YOU need a website? Take the time to answer this question and write it down.

For example...

This is the WHY behind the website when I was putting together my project brief:

A sample section of my project brief about why I want a website

Section 2: 3 Goals you want your website to achieve

What do you want your website to achieve? Again, we're not just building a website to build a website. We're building it to help with your bottom line.

List the top 3 goals you want your website to achieve. Keep these goals short and clear.

For example...

Here are the top 3 goals broken down by type that I listed when creating my brief:

Three goals I included in my project brief

Section 3. Inspiration websites

There is probably a certain style you are envisioning for your new website. List 3 inspiration sites that speak to that style. This could be a competitors website, a business in the same industry as yours, or even a completely different type of business.

After listing 3 sites, fill in a short description of what you like about each site and why. This will help you in the design process later on.

For example...

Here are 3 inspiration websites plus a short description for each that I included in my brief:

3 inspiration sites I listed in my project brief

Section 4: Content outline

A content outline helps to highlight the pages, sections, and features you want to include on your site.

Fill out your content outline in your project brief. This will make it much easier to set up your website skeleton down the road.

For example…

Here is the content outline I created for my website in my brief:

Content outline I created in my project brief

You can see how the content outline in my brief helped outline the structure of my live website today.

My live website shaped by my content outline

Ready to take the next steps with your website?

There you have it! Hopefully, you have a completed project brief and are ready to take the next steps in building your website. Have any questions about the next steps? Contact me and I'd be more than happy to help answer any of your questions.


P.S. Did this article help? Give me a <3 or comment below and let me know how I did.