By Blair Wadman. 8 minute read
I'm in the process of redesigning my consulting website. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking about a redesign from the appearance point of view and start to play around with the visual design. Before I got to that point, I wanted a clearer picture of who the website is for, what it's purpose is, how it will help people and how it could convert anonymous readers into email subscribers and clients. So I started with the website blueprint.
A website blueprint is the starting point for a new website build, or redesign. It outlines who the website is for, the high level messaging, what sections will be included and the main marketing assets.
It isn't a document encompassing all requirements. Such documents are too time consuming to create, and too subject to change, rendering the time spent upfront a waste. Instead, the website blueprint is sufficient to give you a high level overview, a sketch of what to build and an acceptance that this is a living and breathing document that will change.
The sections you include in your blueprint could be different to mine, because you have different priorities, a different type of business and therefore a different type of website altogether. You're welcome to borrow some of my headings and adapt for your own purposes.
It's worth pointing out that you are likely to need a period of discovery before you attempt to create your blueprint. At the very least you're going to need to know who you serve and what you can offer them before you can start to outline your website in the blueprint.
Without further-ado, here are the sections that I've included in mine:
The vertical is the industry or audience type that you focus on. Not everyone has a vertical focus, and that is fine. If you focus on a particular technology and serve multiple industries (a type of horizontal specialisation), then change this to "speciality".
Why should the audience, you are trying to attract, care about your website? What problems will you help them solve? What questions do they have that you can answer?
This is the core message that describes what you do and who you do it for. Often it will include the problems you solve for them. Some people call this the "positioning statement" or "perception statement". When I did mine, I started with one general message that I felt described what I'm doing and then created variations for these different platforms:
I also included a note on what is my USP (Unique Selling Point). I included this because it helps to inform the messaging.
Website homepage: I'm a web developer and email automation consultant that enables online educators and membership organisations to educate and engage with their audience.
LinkedIn: Web developer & email automation consultant for membership organisations & online educators
Twitter: Web developer & email automation consultant. Tips on ConvertKit, Pardot, Drupal.
The bio for Twitter includes what I share on the platform. This is helpful for people who are deciding whether to follow me or not, as it will give them a good idea of what they'll get out of it.
The service page is an overview of what you do for your clients. If you sell products rather than services, then this would be the main products page. There are many ways to structure the services page and the way you do yours will entirely depend on the context of your business.
I've split mine into two broad sections:
Each section has three core services.
This is very much experimental and will change as I get more feedback from the people I'm working with.
A marketing asset is something that generates business value over time. The website itself could be considered a marketing asset. But for the purposes of the blueprint, I'm including assets that add business value to the website. For the most part, they are used as an offer to encourage people to become an email subscriber. Here are some examples of my assets:
This section outlines how someone goes from being an anonymous reader to an email subscriber. An email subscriber can be thought of as a fan who is committing to a longer term educational relationship with you.
It's a funnel because there will naturally be more people at the top of the funnel than at the bottom.
Here's an outline of my funnel:
The Lead Funnel outlines how someone goes from being either an anonymous reader or an email subscriber to a qualified lead.
Here's an outline for my lead funnel:
There will be many variations of this. For example, some people will become a lead after first subscribing to my newsletter. But for the purposes of the blueprint, I wanted to keep it simple.
Most websites treat everyone the same. But people aren't the same, they have different needs. A [[smart website]] is one that will understand what people need and offer them an experience that reflects that. That is where segmentation and personalisation comes in. Segmentation allows you to group your audience into sensible buckets and personalisation allows you to offer a more personal experience for each bucket (and sub buckets).
This is what is included in my blueprint for segmentation and personalisation:
Identify core attributes:
Parts of the website I'll personalise initially:
Ways to segment:
Vertical specific call to actions:
I mentioned that I have two main verticals that I'm focused on: online educators and membership organisations. Each of them as a call-to action at the top of the homepage. This triggers an experience where I can find out more about what they need and in turn, give them that.
I've included the main navigation last not because it is least important, but because I want to define everything else in the blueprint before deciding on the main navigation. The main navigation is important because it is one of the primary ways that your users will move between the main hubs on your website. I like to keep this as minimalist as possible because if you have too many options, you'll confuse people. Rather than trying to stuff everything into the navigation, it is better to organise the site into hubs and the navigation makes it easier to move between the hubs. The hubs then provide ways to people to move deeper into the site.
I have four main hub pages currently, and therefore four links in the main navigation:
Here is a template you can use as a starting point. Feel free to adapt to your needs
Before jumping into a new website project, it's important to know what the end goal is, and a high level view of who it's for, how it will help people and how it will convert people. Just enough detail to give you a sense of direction, but not so much detail that you end up spending too much time in planning mode. The website blueprint is a great way to achieve these. Everyone's blueprint will be different, and hopefully this will give you a starting point for yours.