Having a good website is key to developing a web presence, but it can be hard to know where to start. In this blog series, I'm giving you a sneak peek into Practical Promotion's and Livestock HUB's step-by-step website building process, beginning with Step One: Planning.
Today we're moving on to Step Two: Organization. Remember how I said you'll never regret the time spent devoted to an initial planning session because the information gained would be really helpful later on? Now is the "later on". It's time to take all the information gathered and begin to sort it into a website tree, a very useful tool for organizing information that helps form the framework and structure of the website.
Outline the Information
The first stage of organization is to outline the information gathered in the planning session in step one. We'll use my client website example as an illustration. In our planning session, my client and I pinpointed the purpose, target audience, and goals of the website, then I made an outline:
Purpose: To create an easy-to-use website for our customers/future customers to gain information needed to consider us for future work. The website should highlight our history, quality demonstrated through case studies, technology, and upcoming events.
Target Audience: 1) new private sector customers, 2) existing private sector customers, and 3) government and government prime contractors.
Making an outline really simplifies the information and helps the important information rise to the top.
Build a Website Tree
The next stage of organization is building a website tree. A website tree is a simple tool to help organize the information that will be contained in the website and structure it into a framework that's clear and easy for the target audience to navigate. Important questions to consider when beginning a website tree include:
In our example, my client's clear purpose and goals made building a website tree a snap. Check out the samples of my client's website tree. I've included step-by-step illustrations because I built the tree in stages, starting with the most important information and working my way down through the supporting information and minor details. The most important information became the main pages of the website and the headings featured in the navigation bar (Fig. 1).
After main pages have been determined, I begin filling in the supporting information for each (Fig.2). My client from our website example was very clear about what information he wanted, how he wanted it prioritized, and where the supporting information should go. The majority of my clients need more help with this stage of the website building process, so I ask a lot of questions, such as:
The website now has a basic organizational framework in place. Once I begin designing the physical website, it looks something like this:
The navigation bar items are all lined up at the top of the page. Hovering on a navigation bar item shows the drop down pages that are built in underneath. This example shows what happens when you hover over "Our Work" - you can see there are two child pages in the drop down, "Case Studies" and "Parts Gallery".
Now that the basic organizational layout of the site has been determined, my client and I will move on to content, which is the third step in building a website and the final brick in the base of our website building process. I'll be discussing content in the next blog post, so stay tuned.
Keep on friends!
In this digital age of information and technology, having a web presence is more vital today than ever before. The first step to achieving a solid web presence is a good website. Millions of people take the world wide web with them wherever they go on their phones, tablets and laptops. An attractive, easy-to-use website makes a great first impression, and it’s a place customers and patrons can come back to time and time again for the information they need.
In this series, I'll walk you through the process Practical Promotions and Livestock HUB use to build websites: Planning, Organization, Content, Media, Design, and Functionality. Building websites is a multi-step process with each step building on the previous ones, starting from the ground up. Miss a step, and your website structure is weak. In this post, we'll be covering the first step: Planning.
Step One: Planning
A website is like a house; without proper framework and foundation, it falls apart. It's important to take the time for planning at the beginning of the website building process in order to build a solid framework for a new website. I promise this first step sets you up for a great start on your website, and I promise it will save you so much time and mental energy later!
While in the planning stage, we ask a lot of questions. The following questions’ answers help us begin to structure the website's framework:
What is the Purpose of This Website?
It's a temptation to skip right past this question. You need a website so people can find you online, duh. But why? Why do you want them to find you? What do you want to happen once they do? Make peace with this question. This question is your new best friend. It's not until you determine what you want the main purpose of your website to be that the rest of your planning begins to take shape.
Website example: The website example I'm using for this series is a website redesign for a local company. I designed the original website, but now a second generation is coming on board in this company's management. It's time to go over the website planning steps again. My first question to them, of course, was "What is the purpose of this website?" My client's response:
"To create an easy-to-use website for our customers/future customers to gain information needed to consider us for future work. The website should highlight our history, quality demonstrated through case studies, technology, and upcoming events."
This answer is a good one. It hits the nail on the head as far as the purpose of the website - to provide the information needed so customers and future customers will consider them for future work. Not only that, his answer touches on what we'll be considering in the next: the target audience and the website goals.
Who is the Target Audience?
This question can seem like a no-brainer. To be honest, most people already have a vision of who they want their website to reach. Even if that is the case and you feel like you already have a good grasp on this topic, I urge you to give the target audience question some extra thought. Here are some points for consideration:
Website example: My website client did an excellent job defining his target audience for me. He hinted at it in his answer to the first question above - his website is targeted at the company's customers and future customers. He then went on to break it down further into three categories, 1) new private sector customers, 2) existing private sector customers, and 3) government and government prime contractors.
Now that my client has identified the three specific target audiences for his website, we can begin to define each one's needs and come up with a plan on how to best present his company's solutions to those needs in a relevant, concise, and specific, call-to-action way.
What are the Goals of This Website?
At first glance, it may seem we've already settled this question when we discussed the purpose of the website. Look deeper. The website's purpose is its end game, the what-is-this-website-here-for. The website's goals outline the practical steps you'll take to get there. If the website's purpose is the "what", the goals are the "how". Let's look at our website example to help further explain how this works.
Website example: My client wants a redesigned website that will give his customers and prospective customers (target audiences) the information they need in order to consider his company for future projects (purpose). But how will we do that? By implementing his goals:
Determining the purpose, target audience, and goals of a website is absolutely vital to getting off to a good start on a new website or website redesign. These three questions provide the foundational first brick of website planning, a brick upon which all the other steps will be built on.
Next up: organization. This is where my little orderly brain really starts to churn. In part two of this blog series, "Designing a Website, Part 2: Organization", we'll take all of the information we've gathered from the above three questions, plus much more, and begin to sort it all into tabs and pages. Exciting stuff - well at least it is to me! Until next time, friends!
Hi, I'm Christa, founder of HUB Creative Media, an Iowa-based business specializing in targeted messaging, copywriting, and ghostwriting services. I have one handsome hubby who's my partner in crime (not literally) and two great kids who keep us busy (Track and field! Volleyball! Basketball! All the sports!) Using words to help people promote what they love is my favorite!