The Pre-Design Process
Before cranking up your editor to build a site, take time to consider just a few things. Clearly defining these things will ensure not only a more polished site but also a more successful one.
What is the purpose of the site? This is the first question I ask clients. You'd be surprised how often they don't have an answer. In the rush to get on the Net, the question of why is often overlooked. Whether you are building a site for yourself or for a client, the answer to 'why' can be the key to success. Here are some common reasons for building a site:
- to provide customer service.
- to sell a product.
- to build familiarity.
- to provide information.
- to build customer loyalty.
- to make an announcement.
What do you or your client hope to accomplish by building the site? The goal of a Web site is almost always to make money or share information - and often both. This is true whether the site is a personal one with photos of a new baby, a corporate site providing customer service, a store offering online ordering, or a site devoted to self-promotion.
Exactly who must you reach to achieve your goals? Will the target audience belong to a specific sex, age group, locality, or educational demographic? How to reach and appeal to this target audience is something that should be taken into consideration before deciding on a 'look and feel' for the site.
What will the target audience expect to find on the site? Will they be looking for specific information, online ordering, entertainment? Clearly define what content will be necessary to engage the target audience and accomplish the stated goal of the site. Remember, the Net is about information and convenience. Provide the content and services your visitors want and expect and you've taken the first step towards success.
Style is the focal point of the above considerations. With this information you can choose a design that is appropriate to the target audience and site goals. Obviously, a site for a mortuary should not look at all like a site for an amusement park. Choose colors and design elements that are appropriate for the purpose of the site and will appeal to the target audience. Choose technologies carefully. Some technologies will enhance the value of a site. Others will only serve to annoy your site visitors.
Here are a few sites that appear to have taken the above factors into consideration and incorporated that information into an appropriate site design: