You may be one of the many business men out there who have developed a product or service that you’re itching to share with the rest of the world.
As we’ve said designing and creating website is a job for the experts, but planning what you want to achieve with your proposed website is something we are all capable of. Websites are created to spread the word about business, product or service and to make it accessible to as many people as possible. Therefore it makes sense to spend some time planning out its structure: we’re not talking about site architecture here, or navigation schemes and page schematics, we’re dealing with the relatively simple concepts of considering which audiences or markets your business plans to target and defining the purpose of the site and what content needs to be developed. All the techy bits are best left to the website architects.
Website design is often likened to creating an online book. In many respects it’s a fairly appropriate analogy. However, there are fundamental differences. A website certainly contains displayed information like a book, and to some extent each additional webpage is like a book within a book. Unfortunately, that’s where the similarity ends: unlike a printed book where the end product and appearance is a known quantity, website development uses a framework based on digital code and display technology to construct and maintain an environment in which information can be displayed in multiple formats. Bear with me if you’re starting to drift off now: all the technical stuff goes on behind the scenes and is taken care of by the website designers.
Your role in this is to determine precisely what the purpose of your website is, establish which audience you’d like to gear the site to and to consider what you want your website to look like.
Ask yourself what you want to accomplish with the site and consider what users will take from the experience when they visit your site. Having a clearly defined purpose helps to make the subsequent development and content of the site more focused and measurable. If you know what your short term goals are, it makes planning for the longer term that little bit easier.
The same considerations apply to your potential audience. Once you are able to clearly define your target audience, then website development becomes much simpler. The people who will come to your website will be coming for a specific purpose, and you need to have an understanding and appreciation of what this is. Think about your audience’s preferences and how you feel they would like information presented to them. What type of web experience do you envisage for your potential audience? Do you want to interact with them, or simply be a resource that they might visit occasionally?
If you can approach a website designer with this information already established and mapped out in advance, then the development process will be much simpler and quicker. However, website design takes time and effort and a lot of testing to determine that the environment delivers effectively and efficiently. There’ll be further articles in the coming weeks on the more detailed side of website design, like accessibility, layout and navigation for those who may prefer to have a fuller understanding of the process.