Web Site Planning
Step One: Conceptualization
1. Establish the goal:
Figure out up front exactly what the web pages to do for your customer. Clearly articulate the purpose. Make sure what you're doing and why before starting the design to save a lot of time you'd otherwise loss to unnecessary revision.
Identify clearly your intended audience. During design, focus on including things that will attract those people.
Stick to the standard HTML tags for the broader audience.
To get a lot of repeat visitors, plan to change elements of the page frequently.
Think about which browser software you plan to support and test with. To reach everyone, use text instead of graphics.
Who's going to maintain the site, and how much time do they have to do it?
Managing and maintaining Web sites and responding to all inquires they generate takes more time and money than originally anticipated.
Launching a web site often leads to more e-mail.
If your company has a global audience, include that in the Web page plan. Make sure to include international Contact as well as a US contact.
Offer the users a choice of language; click on your native language to read without translating.
2. Outline the content:
Once you have a goal in mind, outline what content you want to include in the Web page or set of pages.
Some of the content you will create, and some may be links to information that's not part of your site - include that in your outline, too. The outline service as a starting point for mapping out how the parts will interact.
Which of the information is simply text?
Which text should be scrollable?
Which text should be short chunks that fit easily within a window of the browser?
Do you need to collect any information about the visitors to the page?
Do you want the visitors register their address or other information in the form?
Will the Web site link to any other pages on the same Web server or to
external Web documents?
Will you make internal links relative (all files in the same subdirectory or folder on the same server, so only the unique part of the path name appears in each link address) or absolute (with complete path and file name for each link)?
3. Choose a structure for the Web site:
Once you knew what the Web page need to cover and what external links your customer want, choose organization structure for the Web site.
A liner structure:
Users switch from screen to screen like a sideshow, using "Next and Back" navigation buttons.
A branching structure:
With a choice of major topics on the home page like link to content or a choice of subtopics.
Organic Web structure:
With many links that interconnect the parts of the content.
A Hybrid structure:
Combines a formal hierarchy with some linear slide shows and a complex web as appropriate for the different part of the site.
For a complex site sketch out a map or storyboard for the pages, using lines to indicate links. Make your map with a pencil and paper, index cards and yarn on a bulletin board, a drawing program, or any other tool that works for you. You can use "NaviPress" program to sketch out a map.
Step Two: Building Pages
Or start with the linked pages first and finishing up with the home page; it doesn't really matter.
1. Code, preview, and revise:
Coding, placing graphic, links, preview, and revising the code. Expect to go through many revisions. Format your HTML so that it is easy to revise and debug, and include comments about the code if someone else might maintain the HTML files later.
2. Add internal and external links:
Add links, check and recheck whether they make sense.
3. Optimize for the slowest members of your target audience:
Work for the slowest connections you expect your target audience to use. Test your pages at slower speed and make design changes or offer low-speed alternatives to accommodate these slower connections.
Step Three: Testing
1. Test and revise the site yourself:
Test the Web pages with all the browsers you intend to support, at the slowest speeds you expect in your target audience, and on different computer systems your target audience might have.
For example, what happens to graphics when they're viewed on monitor that shows fewer colors than yours?
2. Have other testers check your work:
Someone else may find obvious flaws that you're blind to in your own Web pages. Have people in-house test your Web pages, or load it all on the Web server as a pilot project and ask a trusted few testers to use the pages and report back any problems or suggestions for improving your Web pages.
Step Four: Loading the files
1. Prepare files for the server
send all files for your pages in one folder (or one directory) to the hard disk of the Web server for your own site via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) or some other electronic file transfer. Save Mac files in binary format.
Within that folder (or directory) you can name the file you mean to be the home page index.html - that's the file that's loaded as the home page by default by most Web server software.
For DOS-based servers, find out if there are any file-naming conventions you need to follow. For example you may need to limit file names to eight characters, plus three-character extension.
2. Double-check your URL
Check with the administrator for the Web site the URL for your pages.
Try out the URL to make sure it is correct before passing it around to testers.
3. Test drive some more
Test, revise, reload, and retest. You may see an unexpected result such as line breaks in your Web page text where you didn't intend them. You may have double-spaced text where you meant to show single-spaced text. You may need to use a UNIX filter to fix line problems, consult the Web site administrator if you're stuck.
Step Five: Announcing Your Web page
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