5 Things Every Website Strategy Needs

Website redesigns are exciting! When you redesign your website, you get to ensure it has just the right ‘new shiny’ sparkle to it. You know, modernized colors, updated fonts, great imagery and video, etc. 

But those shiny things aren’t what really drives the need for a website redesign. The reason a company (just like yours) considers a redesign is much deeper than colors, fonts, and images. It starts with careful consideration of why all these elements on your website need to change.

There’s a metaphor in the marketing world: building a website is like building a house. You need a plan — some kind of blueprint — before you start nailing boards together or connecting web pages. This keeps you from making mistakes that can cause major problems down the line and feel confident your ideas will get the desired results. So as in construction is in website design: Measure twice, cut once.

Tackling a website redesign is all about building a plan around what you want to accomplish. Your website strategy not only lays out a plan, it ensures that all decisions are geared toward accomplishing your overall business objectives. A good strategy helps you capture and convert leads through well-thought-out processes on your new site.

Let’s get into how you can strategically plan a website so the project is not only digestible but results-driven too.

What We’ll Cover:

Nail Your Message
Plan a Logical Structure
Evaluate + Create Content
Develop an Opinion About Design
Incorporate an Ongoing Marketing Strategy
Measure Twice, Cut Once
Chapter 01

Nail Your Message

A pretty website is nothing without solid content. All of your content efforts help to guide the buyer through their journey. The trick, however, is getting them to trust you as their guide. To gain this trust, you have to simply state how you can help them.

This means before you start any kind of marketing campaign, be it social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, etc., you need to develop a clear brand message. Gather your team and work together to sort out what your core message is and how you plan to communicate it to potential customers. It’s important that your entire team is on the same page so your brand’s messaging stays consistent throughout the web design process.

We recommend doing this by creating and finalizing a BrandScript. This document acts as a template for how to reach your target audience. It helps you to identify helpful titles that resonate with your reader, allows you to outline your value proposition, explain the “How It Works” of your business and refine CTAs. Basically, your BrandScript helps you tailor your message to the customer’s experience so you can capture new leads and increase conversion rates.

It’s not uncommon during a redesign for someone to think they have their messaging and positioning all buttoned up. And although that can be the case, if you don’t have it documented anywhere, chances are it’s not as clear as it needs to be going into a website redesign. But wait, why does your messaging need to be nailed down before you head into a website build? 

  1. You’ll inevitably rack up extra costs on revisions at later stages of the project.
  2. You’ll have to deal with stakeholders and decision-makers tossing their opinions in when your plan isn’t as flexible anymore.
  3. Your content and design teams won’t have the proper context to perform their areas of the project.

So it might take you a little time to herd people into the same boardroom or Zoom call, but it will be well worth the effort in the end if you start the web design process with clear messaging that everyone agrees on.

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Chapter 02

Plan a Logical Structure

As you begin to build (or rebuild) your website, you’ll want to make sure you’re creating logical structures for users to follow. This part of your web strategy is focused not only on how your web pages look and what copy is on them but also the overall user experience. Your website should be easy to navigate with each page serving a predetermined purpose in the customer journey.


Creating a sitemap with the user in mind is essential when it comes to determining the hierarchy of your website. It allows you to better understand where users will enter your website, what their recommended next step from every page should be and where their journey on your site will end. 

The best way to go about creating a sitemap for a redesign is to use the metrics from your current website or information from Google Analytics to see how users are navigating your web pages. This will help you see areas that need to improve so you can keep users moving forward. Consider things like:

  • What content/pages are users finding valuable (low bounce rate, average to high time spent on page)
  • What content/pages are users not visiting but they should be? 
  • Are users moving around the website as we hoped they would to learn more and ultimately reach out to us?

It’s also key to plan clear, helpful navigation at this early stage of the planning process. Before you get into the weeds of what will go on every page and how people will get there, deciding on the language you’ll use to steer people through your website is a must. 

The beginning of a web design is the easiest place to add some optimization to your navigation with these best practices:

  • Instead of opting for generic labels, use descriptive words and phrases in your navigation bar that catch the user’s eye and tell them exactly what’s on that page. You can even implement keywords here to boost your website’s SEO rankings. 
    • But with this in mind, make sure you don’t use industry jargon or lingo that the average user wouldn’t understand
  • Limit your navigation bar to a maximum of 4-5 items. This helps to highlight the most important areas of your website and decreases the likelihood users will scan over valuable information because they’re presented with too many options at once.
  • Put your most important navigation items and the beginning and end of the list. These are the two spots that people will remember most and are the most effective, so order is important!

Finally, remember that the flow of your site is all about solving for the user’s journey, not streamlining internal bureaucracy. A sitemap should be designed with the user’s problem, path and solution in mind.

User flows

As you create your site map, you’ll also want to think about the user flows on your website. These are the paths users will follow through your pages to reach a goal. What goal, you ask? That’s up to you!

The first step to creating an effective user flow is to identify the goal of each page on your sitemap. How do the pages fit into your digital strategy? Are they meant to inform or convert? Will they capture leads for your sales team? Figuring out exactly what you hope to get out of each webpage can help you to steer people through the right content at the right time, which can help your conversion rates. 

Once you know your goals, you’ll have to find a way to arrange the pages so they guide the customer through their journey. This is where using a sitemap can be particularly helpful by giving you a visual representation of your user flows. 

When determining the page order, you want to think about the most pertinent things you could say to potential customers to get them to reach the page goal. What do they need to know to trust you enough to follow you through your website instead of scrolling to the bottom of one page and clicking away?

Finding these messages can be tricky and it requires a lot of self-editing. You’ll have to determine where your business goals and customers’ needs intersect, then put words to that sliver of the Venn diagram. Likely, you’ll go through a few rounds of ideas and editing, so don’t get discouraged if at first, you don’t succeed.

One way to make this process a little easier is to use all the work you did while sitemapping. You’ve already seen how people use your website, and that can guide your user flow decisions. For example, if a user typically views your homepage, service pages and about page, then converts on an offer, how can you make that journey easier? Is there a step you can remove or information you can include somewhere else? Using these analytics can help you ensure the process from discovery to conversion is as streamlined as possible and easy for the user to navigate.

Site Map Example


At this stage you should have a working model of the hierarchy of pages on your website and their goals, know how you intend users to move through your website to reach those goals and what information should be on each page. Now it’s time to build a visual outline of what the page might look like, a.k.a a wireframe.

Wireframe Screen For Blog Featured

As you can see, wireframes are more functional than pretty. They’re meant to serve as simplified outlines, which is critical at this stage to keep you focused on the functionality of each page. A wireframe removes the distraction of choosing colors and fonts and photos and forces you to look strictly and where elements are placed and how they relate to each other.

Returning to the house metaphor I mentioned at the beginning of this article, your website’s wireframe is like a house’s blueprint. It’s critical to start with a wireframe so you can establish a clear direction and your entire team is on the same page. This saves you time and money down the line on revisions and redesigns.

Because this stage is so important to getting everyone moving in the same direction and establishing a guide for next steps, it’s also the best time to speak up. The wireframing portion of web designing is the easiest (and most cost-effective) place to make changes, add elements or adjust content structure before moving into the heavy lifting portions of the project, so don’t be afraid to give and take continuous feedback until it’s perfect.  

When reviewing your wireframe, there are four questions you can ask to ensure it’s a stable foundation for your site:

  1. Does the section order align with the purpose of the page?
  2. Does it align with the customer journey?
  3. Does it align with your goals?
  4. Does it communicate the problem and how to solve it?

If you answer yes to all of these, then you’ve created a great wireframe! If you answer no to any of them, don’t worry. Just head back to the drawing board and keep working until your pages fit these criteria.

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Chapter 03

Evaluate + Create Content

Evaluating Content

Content is key to any kind of digital marketing, including the curation of your online presence through your website. That’s why the first step in the content portion of every website strategy should be auditing your existing content. To do this, you’ll need that approved BrandScript we talked about earlier so your copywriters have a template for the purpose and tone of content worth keeping.

Content Audit Tracker Example

That’s the content tracker we used during our own content audit. It was incredibly helpful when it came time for us to decide what was working and what wasn’t because it keeps a record of:

  • URL’s
  • Page Titles
  • Description
  • Missing content sections
  • Suggested revisions
  • Gives a score and a verdict for each page

Some CMS’s include a type of content tracking or auditing feature, but in some cases you might need a separate marketing tool or to create your own audit form like we did. 

Creating Content

After your evaluation, use the content audit findings to decide where you need to create new content and what content can be edited to fit your new style or updated message. 

Wireframes can be incredibly helpful in this area because they give the copywriter an outline of how the content will be laid out on the page. This prevents over or underwriting and presenting information in a format that doesn’t support the user flow at that stage in the customer journey.

A crucial philosophy to keep in mind at this stage is that content comes before design. Period. Your content provides context for the design of your site. Your design might vary slightly across different platforms like mobile devices and smartphones, but your content will always be the same. To produce an effective design across all platforms and not end up with a “templated” website, it’s absolutely essential to take the time to create quality content before the designers get started.

Chapter 04

Develop an Opinion About Design

Design can be tough. It’s not often you meet someone who feels confident painting an entire room after seeing only a paint swatch. Most people need a few different colors taped to their wall for a week or so until they feel comfortable making a decision. This same strategy goes for your website.

Don’t make your team beholden to an idea they’ve only seen a swatch of. When it’s time to get feedback on basic design ideas, have a few different options ready for your stakeholders to view. You can point out what makes them each unique and give the group time to examine them and ask questions. Lots of times, people know what looks right when they see it, so you just have to get that perfect option in front of them. (And keep in mind the option you love might not be their favorite.)

It’s important to include decision-makers early in the design process so they can express likes and dislikes in a collaborative, non-judgmental environment. This helps your design team get an idea of what style you’re looking for and allows everyone involved to have a say on what might work best. It’s the best way to put everyone on the same page and start working toward your goal with minimal future revisions.


An easy way to get everyone thinking along the same lines of design is creating a moodboard. When strategizing for a website, you want to open a conversation about design, not paint a masterpiece and expect everyone to love it like you do. Moodboards allow you to put together the basics of design so you can get a feeling of how your website would look in a few different styles.

One element people love using moodboards for is color. You can brainstorm colors outside of your brand guidelines and see how they’ll look when all combined on a page. You’ll need colors for things like CTA buttons or cards and background colors for your copy. 

A moodboard is also where you can identify potential new fonts. Just like with color, the fonts on your website should complement each other, so seeing them listed in one space can help you decide if they create the intended flow of style from title to subheaders or they don’t quite match what you’re looking for.

Think of your moodboard like those inspirational posters we all made in high school with magazine cutouts of our future careers and goals. (No? Just me?) You can include links to other websites on your moodboard to serve as inspiration. It doesn’t have to be a business in your industry or your competitors; it’s just a website with a design you like. It might be the colors they use or the font or everything put together. There’s no right or wrong here.

Design Comparables

As helpful as moodboards are, they only take you so far when it comes to seeing how the website would actually look. That’s why the next step is designing comparables. Take the elements from your top three moodboards and plug them into the top two sections of a website. This will give you a better idea of how the whole project will look in those styles and give your team a chance to provide feedback.

This is when you can get a good idea of what your team is thinking. Do they like one design more than the others? Do they like only certain elements from each? Your goal in this stage isn’t to nail down a specific design, but to determine the most logical path to a homepage everyone will approve. 

Your design team can incorporate feedback into comparables too. For example, if your team liked the colors in option A, the font in B, and the image style in C, the designers can combine all of those into option D.

The key to success in this part of the process is to have an opinion. If you say you aren’t a “design person” or you “don’t care what it looks like,” then it becomes very difficult for your designers to create something you’ll love. Don’t worry about people disagreeing with you or thinking you’ll say the wrong thing. You like what you like and that’s okay. This is the time to voice it.

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Chapter 05

Incorporate An Ongoing Marketing Strategy

Your website is the hub for all your marketing efforts, so don’t forget to incorporate your marketing strategy into your website strategy. This means creating a plan for the “what next” that comes at the end of every big project. 

Launching your new website—whether it was a quick design on SquareSpace or a comprehensive build on HubSpot—marks the beginning of a new approach to your business. And to keep your new website working at peak performance, you need a marketing plan.

I’m not talking about building out your digital marketing or scheduling social media posts. I’m talking about a marketing plan that supports the health of your website. To do this, there are a few things to focus on:

  • Create a content plan to keep your website constantly refreshed in the eyes of Google. This means using keywords in blogs, optimizing landing pages, including long-form downloadable content and utilizing pillar pages (like this one) to maximize internal linking.
  • Keep a close eye on your website metrics and consider adding heat mapping to your site to ensure users are taking the intended paths you created in the site mapping and user flow stages.
  • Continue creating additional web pages that will aid your user’s journey.
  • Consistently evaluate conversion opportunities and make adjustments where necessary.
  • Stay on top of best practices associated with algorithm changes.
Chapter 06

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Hopefully, by now you understand why it’s so important to have your blueprint before building your house. Websites, unfortunately, don’t spring up overnight. It takes careful planning and lots of time to get them right the first time, but it’s absolutely worth going slowly to avoid a blown budget and a blown timeline.

We’ve seen time and time again the client who wants to move fast, skip all the “extra” steps and move straight into the design. It never works, folks. I’ve never seen a project that skips the strategy and ends on time or on budget. Planning is just too critical.

Some people want to skip the planning to keep their costs down. After all, adding everything we’ve talked about does add to your bill. But in the long run, you save so much time and money on redesigns and revisions when your project is properly planned from day one. It allows you to set the best expectations possible and understand what will be delivered.

Here at Lone Fir Creative, website strategy is one of our favorite processes to go through with clients! We love collaborating to make your vision come to life in the form of a well-thought-out and functional website. 

You can learn more about our website services on our recently refreshed website. Or if you’re ready to dive in, contact us today! We’d love to chat with you about setting up a website strategy.

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