Planning a website

When it comes time to begin thinking about creating a site, there are some basic rules to follow that will help ensure your site is successful.

Determine your Goals

Ask yourself what you hope to gain by having a Web site. Take the time to write down your objectives and remember them as you walk through the design process. These goals help ensure your focus and guide your Web site to an appropriate end.

Organizing the site structure

Use a pen and paper to organize your Web site structure, simple boxes can represent the pages while lines will connect them in a desired pattern. Grouping these pages into clusters will help you remember which pages below to which sections. For larger sites, using sticky notes on a wall is a tried and true method of ensuring your site can be represented quickly and easily.

Normally, setting up a Web site on your company involves creating a base folder with all the files you need for your Web site (referred to as the local site). Take the time to organize some basic file folder, starting with a folder called ‘root’ and creating the basic folders ‘images’ and ‘common’ in your local folder. These two folders will help keep various elements of your site in their appropriate places.

Take your page clusters from before and create a file folder for each of them, placing cluster folders inside other folders which represent them. For example, create a file folder in your ‘root’ directory called ‘about’ and another called ‘products’. You may find that you need a secondary folder within the ‘about’ section called ‘contact’, so you can create a new folder there.

Creating your design look

Maintaining the consistency of your design is very important to creating a good Web site, to do this simply take the time to create your artwork on a piece of paper, planning for your entire site.

Once you’re ready to use an art program to create the artwork, simply complete it and export the files to an HTML editing tool or create the HTML in a text editor.

It’s recommended that you store the design for your site in a single, easy to access location to allow fast updates to the site. This will save you having to open and edit dozens of files to make minor changes.

Designing the navigation scheme

Building your navigation is the most important asset in your Web site. It will appear on all your pages and will allow your visitors to access your site quickly. Here are some basic tips for navigation:

  • Ensure that the navigation is separated from the rest of the page, visitors need to know it’s there.
  • Search tools will help visitors find what they’re looking for.
  • Feedback links help visitors report problems and provide support.

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