insight

Nuts & Bolts

Planning your site...

Intro
What do you do?
Who do you do it for?
What do you want?
How will you know?
Scope of work: Content
Scope of work: Design
Scope of work: Technology
Budget
Think ahead
Putting it all together

Scope of work

The development of your site can be broken down into three broad areas: content, design and technology. How much are you going to supply?

Content

This is almost certainly the area where you'll have the most work to do. It's your business, after all; you know what you want to say, and show, on your site. A description of your line of business, staff profiles and a pic of your office building, though, is not enough. Give your visitors something meaningful in return for their visit—and I don't mean a T-shirt. Give them information. Show them that you're an specialist in your field. Include case studies, articles, news. Improve their life in some small way, and they'll be back.

Hot tip: plan on engaging a professional writer to edit, if not produce, your site copy. The Web is not print. Way too many sites suffer from terminally bad writing. Consider carefully: if you hadn't written it, would you read it?

Develop a prototype site map. Break your content down into logical sections; this is the top level of your navigation hierarchy. Aim for a number of top level sections in single figures. Five or six is ideal; twelve is too many. Then organise all your content to fit into this structure. Construct a flow chart or simple diagram to show how the information flow within the site moves from the top level to level 2, level 3, and so on—as far as you need to.

What visual assets do you already have on hand (maybe photos you had produced for that brochure)? Do you own the license to use them online? What do you need to have produced, or source from stock libraries? Again, beware the temptation to provide home-made graphics and photos—unless you're a photographer.

If the task of mapping out the content for your entire site is too daunting, separate the job into two parts: list what you must have for launch, and what can wait and be added later. Important, because the visual and navigational design of the site must make allowance for future additions and expansion.

Next: Scope of work: Design

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