Building a website is a lot like building a house. It can seem like an overwhelming project but with proper planning and thoughtful design, you can trade the stress for success. This article is designed to help you over the “what’s next?” hurdle that holds so many people back from tackling a website redesign. Whether your current site needs some work, or you want to knock your first website out of the park, contemplating the following questions before you start will save you considerable amounts of time, headache, and money.

1: What do you like about your current website?

There’s no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Sit down and make a list of all the elements that are working well for you in your current site and decide which ones can be carried over to the new site. You don’t have to start from scratch, but remember, what you like and what’s actually generating value for your business might not be the same thing. A professional design team can help you decide what makes the cut.

2: What kinds of functionality do you need?

The answer to this question might evolve over time, but it’s important to have a firm idea on what you need out of your website. The answer to this question also relies heavily on what type of business you run. Do you need a space to sell your product or accept donations? If so, a secure, robust payment processing system should be on the top of your wish list. Would you like to give visitors the opportunity to sign up for email newsletters or utilize a chatbot? Have you thought about including a customer relationship management system (CRM) to improve tracking and workflow efforts?

The customization options are virtually endless, so decide what features are most important to you and your business and focus on those.

Question 3: What are your competitors doing?

After you’ve decided what you like and don’t like about your own website, take some time to review competitors’ websites and make similar lists. This is a great way to gain inspiration and find ways to set yourself apart. What best practices can you incorporate in your website redesign, and how can you take things to the next level?

Ask trusted friends and colleagues to take a look at the competition as well and provide feedback on what catches their eye. Giving your design team solid examples of what you’re looking for will help tremendously as you craft your vision for the new site.

4: Who is your audience?

Before designing a website, you have to determine who your target audience is and how they behave online. Understanding your primary user demographic is essential to the success of your website. The answer to this question affects everything from messaging and ad placement, to overall look and functionality.

Not only do you need to know who will be using your website but also how they will use your website. To answer these questions, you may need to implement user surveys and testing to gain a better understanding of the user journey. What makes sense to you might not be intuitive for your potential customers. Take time to get in their head and figure out what they are looking for out of your website.

5: What is your content marketing plan?

If you don’t yet have a content marketing plan, you need one. By providing high quality, original content, you can effectively drive traffic to your page and elevate your brand without dropping huge dollars on advertising. Your website redesign should not just take your content marketing strategy into account, but should be built around it.

The content you produce can take many different forms which is why it’s important to consider this during the planning stage. Blogging is one of the easiest ways to distribute helpful content, but perhaps you plan on producing videos, infographics, or a podcast. Make sure your website supports your content marketing strategy.

6: What is your plan after the initial launch?

Having a post-launch plan in place before you even start on the new website will ensure your long term objectives are being taken into account during the design process. The more thought you put into this question now, the easier it will be to build your future goals into the current design.

Think about content you plan to add down the road in order to stay relevant and generate new, quality leads. If everyone is on the same page about your long term plan, it will make it easier to stick to that plan and keep things fresh. Leave room to grow or else your website will quickly become stagnant and ineffective.

7: What other types of marketing will you use alongside your website?

In order to get the most out of your shiny new website, you need to direct people to it from multiple sources. What types of marketing efforts make sense for your brand and how can you use them to generate traffic on your page? If you just sit back and wait for people to find your site, you’ll miss out on it’s full potential.