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Planning your Web Site

When you begin thinking about creating a Web site, you should follow a series of planning steps to make sure your site is successful. Even if you are just creating a personal home page that only friends and family will see, it can still be to your advantage to plan the site carefully in order to make sure everyone will be able to use it easily.

Creating goals for your site
Deciding what your site goals are should be the first step you take when creating a Web site. Ask yourself, about what you hope to accomplish by having a Web site. Write down your goals so that you remember them as you go through the design process. Goals help you focus and target your Web site to your particular needs.

A Web site that provides news about a specific subject should have a different look and navigation than a Web site that sells products. The complexity of your goals will affect the navigation, the media that you use, and even the look and feel of your site.
 

Audience
To whom are you communicating through your site? Define your audience clearly, and then tailor your site to their needs and habits. Building a site for one primary audience is the easiest approach. If you choose, instead, to target multiple audiences, let that choice guide your site’s structure.
 
Sustainability
Building an expansive site is one thing. Keeping it fresh and alive is something else. In other words: don’t bite off today more than you can chew tomorrow. An events calendar that’s two months out of date is useless—and reflects poorly on your group. Before including any time-sensitive features on your site, develop a specific plan for keeping information current. A modest site will serve you better than a massive resource that never quite delivers on what it seems to promise.
 

Planning Check List

1. Purpose:
Define objective of site, answer the "why"

The site will?  The reason I need a site is?  Why this Web site is going to be here?

Examples:  To inform my customers,  To promote my product,  To entertain,
To teach how to do something,  To provide a service,

Note: With the purpose of the site written down there is something to measure the success of the site by. Having a purpose gives direction.
Focus on your purpose by picking the 2 or 3 top reasons for the site. Too wide of a focus will make it much harder to work with.
 

2. Target Audience:
Who will find this site of value, of interest, entertaining or informative?

What will your audience be using this site for?

What will your visitor do at this site?

Why will someone come to this site?

How are they going to find this site?

What kind of technology does your audience have access to, i.e. modem vs broadband?

 Note: When you determine who the audience is it will influence, style, design, content, marketing and the technical aspects of a Web site.
 

3. Marketing:
Who is your competition?

Use the search engines to find similar sites - list , what do you like/dislike about them ?

How will you be different or the same?

What features do you like or dislike on the web.

Domain name/domain hosting - do you have a domain named picked, do you have an Internet service provider (ISP) ?

Getting your own domain name - .com or .ca etc , do you plan on doing this or have your web developer buy ?

Internet service provider, Internet connection, web space - do you need forms, databases, e-commerce ?

Can't be all things to all people - who is your target audience?

 Focus - what is the main purpose and focus of this site?

 Be great at one thing - what is that one thing?

 Be better, be different, and be unique - how ?

Note: Just as a company focuses on a niche or market so does a Web site. A Web site is a marketing tool on its own or can compliment existing marketing tools.
Your web developer needs to plan with you so that your site meets your expectations.
 

4. Content:
The web is read differently, 80 % scan pages., have you short informational "blurbs" prepared , pictures available, graphics to split up content ?

 Writing for the web is different than writing a book, are you going to write your own content ?

 Tell them about your business

 Convince them you are knowledgeable and competent.

 Attract people.

 Why will someone return?

Copyright laws - text, pictures, brochures, graphics, fonts all have copyright issues - how are you going to get permissions or use original content etc.?

Is your content found elsewhere? Can a link to another site be better than repeating content?
 

5. Site Design:

Do you have a look you want?

Do you have certain colors that have to be used or theme colors you want?

What kind of menu/navigation system will work for your site?

What is the impression you want people to get when the first look at your site?
 

6. Technical Specifications:
Do you need your web pages printable?

What browsers do you want the site compatible with?

What screen resolution do you want the site viewed at?

How fast do you want the site to load?

 Are there accessibility questions?

Are you text content in digital format - i.e. a word processing program or will it have to be typed.

Are you supplying photos or images digitally or will they need to be scanned?

Do you need photos taken?

Do you have graphics like logos that will be supplied?
 

7. Time Lines:

When do you want this site ready?

Have you budgeted time to plan the Web site project?
 

8. Maintaining the site:
Who is going to maintain the site?

How are you going to get feedback on the site?

What parts of the Web site will be updated and how often?