Website Planning

On the other hand a website which is carefully thought over is sure to achieve its objectives. So you need a meticulous approach while constructing your website and follow some important steps listed below like defining the purpose, identifying the target audience and content management.

Purpose

The first thing that you should determine is the purpose or the objective of your website. Identify what you want to achieve with a web presence. What information you wish the site should provide. Should the users be able to know about your company, product & services; should they be able to shop online. Having a set of objectives for your website will also help you measure the success of your website. Be clear in your mind as to what your business wishes to achieve through the website in the next 2 years. Identify your goals. Is it acquiring new customers? If so how many? Is it increasing sales to existing customers? If so, how much more? How much revenue you want to generate through online selling? Such measurable objectives will help you give the right direction in planning for the website and also its future expansions and modifications.


Audience

The first thing that you should determine is the purpose or the objective of your website. Identify what you want to achieve with a web presence.The next thing that you need to determine is your target market. Who is going to visit your site- customers, suppliers, partners, employees? What age group of people? What will be their information preferences? Are they experienced in using the Internet? From where are they likely to access your website? What exactly will they be looking for when they visit your site? Such information can be very helpful in determining how your website should be designed and presented. It will help you in answering questions like what information you should provide, what website technologies to use, what features you should incorporate etc. Thus defining your audience will help in developing an effective website that provides them exactly what they are looking for. It will guide you in providing appropriate visuals and content in the site that meets the preferences of your target audience, holds their attention and persuades them to stay longer on your site.


Content

An integral part of website planning is content management. The graphics and the content used in your site speak a lot about your company. A well written content that is organized according to your target audience needs creates a good first impression. Before putting the content on the site you should be fully satisfied that it accomplishes the objectives that you've set for your website. Anything that does not achieve the purpose defined should not be used. Next you need to make sure that your content is crisp and to the point. Ambiguous content will deter the audience's attention. Also create a basic information structure by categorizing content under different subheadings. This will make it easier for the reader to comprehend. Proper content management will ensure that the purpose of your site is achieved.


Compatibility and restrictions

The next thing that needs to be taken care of is the compatibility of your site with major surfers. To become popular among your viewers, you need to ensure that your site runs on major platforms. The best way to do this is to test your site on different platforms.


As modern browsers capture the market share the compatibility of your website with the viewers is restricted. For instance, a website that is designed for the majority of websurfers will be limited to the use of valid XHTML 1.0 Strict or older, Cascading Style Sheets Level 1, and 1024x768 display resolution. This is because Internet Explorer is not fully W3C standards compliant with the modularity of XHTML 1.1 and the majority of CSS beyond 1. A target market using browsers like Firefox and Opera allows for more W3C compliance and thus a big range of options for a web designer.


There are also restrictions on the image file format that can be used during web design. Majority of users can support GIF, JPEG, and PNG (with restrictions). Internet Explorer is the major restriction here, that does not fully support PNG's advanced transparency features. Thus GIF format is still the most widely used graphic file format for transparent images.


Recently the new browser versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox are moving toward more standards compliance. It was only in the beginning of 2008 that the developers of Internet Explorer 8 announced the new version of Internet Explorer (8.0) will be standards compliant. As of today all widely used browsers in development are standards compliant.


Planning documentation

Once you have defined the purpose, identified your target audience and identified the content that is to be put up on this site, the next step is documentation. This involves designing the structure of the site, how the content will be organized and how different parts will interact with each other. Laying down such a visual plan or prototype will help in future changes, enhancements and improvements.


First you should formulate an information structure by categorizing your content under different headings. Then develop a sitemap depicting what content will appear on each web page and how different web pages will be interlinked.


    You can use any of the following approach to develop your website structure:

  • Linear Website Diagrams – In this the viewer will move in a particular sequence.
  • Tree Design Website Diagrams- (Hierarchical structures) It provide more than one way for users to go to their destination.
  • Branch Design Website Diagrams- This allows many interconnections between web pages such as hyperlinks within sentences.

In addition to the overall structure of the site, individual pages should also be planned, by creating a visual portrayal of the web pages. This process is called storyboarding. Here you record the description, purpose and title of each web page in your website, and show the linkages using an effective logical diagram type. Some individual pages may be designed in greater detail as a website wireframe. It is basically a comprehensive layout of what the page will actually look like.


Conclusion

Websites need constant upgradation. While you build a website, your primary concern should be that it is informative and feature rich for the viewer. It should have all that your target audience will be looking for. So make it professional and effective and for this Website planning is just the first step of the ladder to success.