How to Plan a Website

22 July

How to Plan a Website

Most people know that the first step to creating a website is planning. What might be a little more unclear is how is the best way to go about planning a site.

Your 1st step should be to find websites that are serving a similar purpose as the one you want to build. Next, you should asses the strengths and the weaknesses of those sites. Use the sites to get ideas of what you would like to incorporate and what needs work.

For the second step get out a piece of paper and a pen (you can also you a pencil). On this paper jot down all your ideas about how you picture your site. Answer the following questions:

• “What are your goals in creating this website, what overall information do you want to convey?
• Who is your audience? Students, prospective students, faculty, staff, community, or a combination of two or more of these? What will be their goals in using your website?
• Are there different goals for different audiences? If so, what are the goals for each?
• Does the written content for your site already exist, or will someone be creating it?
• If the content exists, how and where is it currently stored?
• How often does the content change?
• Are there constraints on the information you want to display? For example, a page on this website should only be visible to students enrolled in a specific course.
• What interaction do you need between your site and its users? Do you have a database from which you want to extract and display information? Do you have forms that site visitors will need to complete?”

Once you have answered all these questions and have written down all your thoughts it is time to make an outline. Think of this outline as a sort of table of contents of what will be found on your site.
From this move on to the 3rd step; a flow chart. This will allow you to have a visual representation of your site. You will be able to see clearly which pages link to each other and how your users will go through the site.
Finally make actual sketches of how you want each page to be laid out. Now this does not have to be perfect but it will allow you to have a good idea of what the final page will look like.

Now you are ready to get on the computer and actually make your site. Enjoy and don’t forget to check some of the design rules that I often talk about!

TAGS: Web Design, General