Site Design

Do you have the purpose of your website sorted out? No? Then read the section on Planning. Do you have your content gathered together? No? Then read the section on Writing. What about some pictures and graphics? Yes! Then we are ready to talk about site design.

Design of a website takes two elements. The site plan determines how the various pages and pieces of content will be put together. The second part is the "look and feel" of each page of the website.

Site Plan

Looking a little like an organizational chart, this simple plan shows how the chunks of content fit together and how the navigation will need to be developed. Site plans tend to evolve so don't be too worried about getting it right the first time.

One of the challenges is that most of us tend to think in a linear fashion. Like a book's table of contents - Chapter 2 follows Chapter 1 and comes before Chapter 3. But the web is a web because we can jump from Chapter 6 to Chapter 2 without actually looking at Chapter 1. The notecard trick in the planning section is a good way to get a grip on the chunks of information and where they need to be.

Once you get the notecards organized then put the basic headings on a page and start on the next step.

"Look and feel"

All the pretty color and pictures in your website exist for one reason. To support and amplify the purpose of your website. A basic web page has a few parts. A header, primary navigation, secondary navigation, utility navigation, CONTENT, and a footer.

On most sites the home page has a different look than the rest of the site. Its job is to give the visitor a quick guide to the site. The one question that the front page has to answer for a visitor? Is this site going to help me reach my goal? And so we are back to purpose.

Navigation is a bit like street signs in a city. Navigation helps us:

  • know where we are,
  • get where we are going,
  • keep track of where we have been.

Again most of us think in a linear fashion but people need different things at different times on a web site. So we present navigation consistently and in a variety of ways.

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