I teach courses in designing and developing Web sites. Every semester, many students come to class and think developing a Web site involves merely learning the mechanics of a Web authoring program -- not so. Just like building a house, building a great Web site requires a blueprint. No one would ever think about building a house without a blueprint, or without knowing what tools to use to build the house.
This article will serve as a blueprint to developing a great Web site. The Web blueprint has two components: Systematic Planning and Design and Development. The Systematic Planning and Design and Development components include the following elements:
A. Systematic Planning:
1. Web audience 2. Goals and objectives 3. Sketch out the Web site 4. Select a Web authoring tool
B. Design and Development:
1. Navigation structure 2. Design elements 3. Homepage and page construction 4. Graphics
Both the Systematic Planning and Design and Development elements of the Web blueprint will be discussed using a systems approach. First, we will discuss the systematic planning component of the Web blueprint.
Just as planning is important in building a house, planning is also very important in developing a Web site. Planning can ensure a quality Web site, save time and make the content of the Web site easy to navigate. A systems approach to Web development is an overall plan that gives attention to all the essential elements in designing a Web site. The following questions will guide the systematic planning of your site.
1. Who are your Web site visitors? (Target Web audience)
2. What are the content, depth and breath of information in your Web site? (Goals and objectives of your site)
3. How are you going to arrange the topics and subtopics of your site? (Sketch out Web pages using index cards or flowchart)
4. What are you going to use to construct your Web site? (Selection of a Web authoring program)
The Target Audience
When beginning the planning process, it is important to identify the specific audience that will be coming to your Web site. Ask yourself the following questions: