Before You Build

Written by Lee Micai on December 10, 2008 – 1:05 pm -

Some things to think about, before you begin.

The following questions are designed to help you determine your purpose and direction on the web before you build a single page.

What is the point of your site?

Simply being on the web is not enough. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish. Do you want to attract business, make money online, provide a public service, share information? Determine the goals of your site, and write them down — this will help keep you on track!

Who is your audience?

Try to get a mental picture of your site’s potential users. Maybe your typical users will be college students, or housewives, or small business owners. Use this mental image to guide you as you plan your site. Also, this is a good time to speculate on the technical level of users. Would they have the latest browser? Be willing to wait 30 seconds for your nifty animation to load? Give this some thought, and plan your site with your users in mind.

How should your information be organized and presented?

The web has come a long way from the early days when having a web presence meant reproducing your company brochure on the Internet. Today web sites hold more information, and the type of information you want to offer should drive the architecture of your site.

What overall image do you want to build?

The web can be a powerful image builder and this power can work for or against your business. Your combination of colors, imagery, information, and tone of “voice” will be your representatives online, so make sure they accurately portray you.

Why should your users use your site?

You are not alone. Your competitors have web sites too. You know why your products and services are better but potential customers may not. Figure out what makes your business the best and highlight that element on your web site.

Once they’re there, what do they want to do?

Having a site where your users can’t find what they want is worse than having no site at all. Many users will form an opinion about your company based on the feeling they get from your site. And a frustrated user is not likely to be a happy customer. Give some thought to the user’s experience. What are the top few things they want to do at your site? Figure these out and make them very easy to find your users will appreciate it.

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