By Gail Seymour
Your Web site doesn’t start with a design. A good plan is essential for creating a Web site that meets your goals and gives your visitors what they want.
Before you begin planning out the pages of your new Web site, ask yourself what you want to achieve with it. Typical aims for a company Web site include:
Your visitors arrive with their own agendas, and you need to ensure they are able to complete their objectives, rather than yours. Typical Web site browsers might be looking for:
Draw up a map of your Web site, like a family tree, with each page in a box. Organize these into a logical sequence, from your visitor’s perspective. The difference between your site appearing sales focused and impersonal vs. visitor centric and welcoming can be as simple as the order of your main navigation.
For each page, consider why it’s there, what your visitor’s goal is and what you want them to do while on it.
Prepare the content for each page. For some pages you will have detailed copy and graphics you want to include; for others, only a few bullet points. That’s OK — you can build on this as you go.
Put together a summary of each page including possible titles, keywords and phrases you imagine visitors might use to search for the page and any links you want to include on it.
Once you have your blueprint, it’s time to build your Web site. Whether you do that in-house using design software, or outsource the work to a Web site designer will depend on the knowledge and time constraints of your existing staff. Either way, having this blueprint ready will provide you with a work plan, or the basis on which to ask for quotes from several designers on a like for like basis.
Gail Seymour has been a Web site designer for more than 10 years. During that time she has won three Sitesell design awards, and has provided the content and copy for dozens of Web sites and more than 50,000 Web pages.