How to Plan a Website
- 6 October 2011 by Dean 1 Comments
Have you ever heard the phrase “failing to plan is planning to fail?” While it can somewhat be applied to making a website (i.e. failing to plan your website), you can still make a website without a plan.
Well then… why should I plan?
No matter how small you think your website or blog will be, spending even 15 minutes on planning will save you hours later on. And for larger websites, spending just 1 hour on a website could save you days, and money, later on.
Even putting all that aside, the most important reason why I plan spend time planning every website, is to get a clear understanding of exactly what I am aiming for: what will be in the website; how will it work; what it will achieve. Knowing what you want the final outcome to be, will save you time and allow you to make swift and correct decisions when building your site.
OK, but why should I listen to you about planning websites?
During the final year of my degree (Bachelor of Multimedia), I spent about a quarter of my study time involved in learning project management methodologies and putting them into action. I did multimedia because I thought I wanted to be a graphic designer. However after just 6 months in a full time job in the digital industry (fresh out of uni), I started my career as an interactive producer.
An interactive producer takes on many roles, and while you need to know a lot about technology and interactive design, at the core of what you do is digital project management. I started out as an Associate Interactive Producer (a junior) at Amnesia Razorfish in Sydney and finished up my last full time job as a Senior Interactive Producer at Clemenger BBDO and Proximity in Melbourne. As a junior I was working a lot on Xbox Australia’s website, managing maybe one designer and as a senior, I was working on projects worth 100s of 1000s of dollars for Dulux and Yellow Pages (and many other big names), managing large teams.
How to plan a website: the planning process
All website projects large or small go through the same project process. Here we are talking only about planning to build a website.
First, the idea is sparked. Usually created out of a business need or for personal sites, the desire for some form of self-expression. It might be initiated by a group of people, or by yourself. After the initial thought, a commitment to make a website is made.
There are a few different type of requirements that should be considered during the planning process. These fall into two high-level categories:
Business or Communication requirements
If you’re a business, you’ll want to look at both your business and communication requirements. For personal websites, you’ll focus on the communication requirements. As part of the You Make The Website guide, I walk you through these requirements in detail… and it only takes 15 minutes.
This takes a bit longer than 15 minutes! Here you must plan the actual pages that are going to be on your site and the content (text, images and any functionality) that is going to be on those pages.
The objective of the requirements gathering process is to gain a clear understanding of what the final website will contain and what it will actually achieve for you or your business. In smaller projects you’d finish this stage with a one-pager for the business/communication requirements and a document for your content. For larger websites, you might still have a one-pager for the business/communication requirements, but you’d have a larger document and site map for the content requirements.
Working through the planning process will put you on a very good track for building a website. After planning, comes a pre-production phase (things you need to do before building the website), the production process (building the website), testing the website and then finally, launching it!
I’ll talk about the other phases in later blog posts.
Are you planning to plan to build a website?
If you are, then you’ve come to just the right place. Grab the You Make The Website guide, to walk you through creating a successful website for yourself or your business.