WebDesignz explains that the first important step in the website creation process, is to determine the purpose of your web site. Too often a website lacks the focus of a clear purpose and visitors are quickly confused and click away. It's an established fact that Internet users today are increasingly impatient and intolerable. A website visitor will not spend their precious time trying to figure out what the site is about (or how it can benefit them). A website with a well defined purpose stands out and a visitor should instantly recognize it without effort. Clearly defining the purpose of your website before its creation, will ensure that your website is optimized to achieve the required purpose. After all, you can only meet your goals when you know what they are. For your part, you need to first focus and understand why you are making this website?
You might be trying to:
Building on theme analysis to conception of a theme for a hypothetical website. If, for example, it was determined you were creating this website for the purpose of providing information, and because of your love for pets, you want to offer your knowledge in a website for general care and grooming of pets. You might also want to consider offering your skills in a localized grooming service (in the area you live)! We'll say it's to do with dogs more specifically rather than all pet animals. You may also consider narrowing your focus to only a specific breed if this would be beneficial but I would suggest to keep your theme in most cases, fairly broad because we can 'individualize' within our theme.
We now arrive at:
PURPOSE: To provide an informative resource guide on the grooming and care of pet dogs [and a localized grooming service].
WEB SITE THEME: Grooming and care of pet dogs
By accurately defining our site's purpose, we can clearly derive at the focus for our site (website theme). The individual words of our homepage title are actually our keywords (derived from our purpose and theme) and when grouped together in a logical form, they serve more importantly as key-phrases.
Know Your Audience
Now we know the purpose and theme of our site, we need to know who it is we have created this site for.
We must first address - what is a Target Audience?
Definition: A specified audience or demographic group for which an a message is designed.
Now we know the purpose (the reason why the site exists) and theme (what the site is about) of our site, we have to ask ourselves:
Who is it we must reach to achieve the goals of the site?
We need traffic (visitors) to our site or our efforts are in vain but we cannot be everything to everyone. A determination must be sought on the types of people that will want and need to interact with our website.
We need to understand our intended target audience might belong to a specific:
Most people use the Internet as a resource for seeking information. This is why the vast majority of sites on the web are information-centric. That is, they provide text-based information as their main content. Relative to the purpose of your new website, you must satisfy this need for information by developing high quality content that will benefit your intended target audience. The web content you devise, layout and development are arguably the most important area of your site. However, many other issues come into play which we must understand.
The web does not work in linear ways like print. In print, the user is focused on the entire set of information. On the web, we'll likely need to split each document into multiple, hyper-linked pages because web users dislike having to scroll down and read long pages. It's estimated that reading from computer screens is 25% slower than from paper. Your web content therefore should have approximately 50% of the word count of its paper equivalent. Other studies show over 75% of web users scan web pages instead of reading word-for-word.
We must also consider people connect via the Internet: from literally anywhere in the world with different connection speeds with varying types of technology. Our website (content) as a whole must create a site that is 'user-friendly' to the wider audience. We must ensure all users interacting with our site are minimally obstructed with the textual content, site navigation, orientation and general functioning of our site.
In a word, our site must strive for 'simplicity.' Simplicity is the main, web design principal for websites.
Web design is about good content design and making life easy for the user to read, navigate and interact with your content. This does not automatically mean your site must look dull, be boring and is lifeless; it simply means our site is addressing issues for greater audience participation and use.
We now start developing our website's content to benefit our target audience. What type of content is your intended target audience expecting to find? You should already have a good idea of who your target audience is. The site is being created to fill its purpose and interact with people that will have some interest in the theme of this website. We can we now develop our website's content to benefit our targeted audience. We have to place ourselves in their shoes and ask, "What will I come to this site for?"
We have to also:
Principally of interest, we want to:
Some of the many considerations in writing quality and effective content for your web pages are:
Website style is defined through page layout, design and personalization of your site's web pages. We need to blend in with our target audience so once they arrive; they will feel right at home (so to speak). Styling is really the combination of determining audience and content considerations.
Now we know what our visitors are expecting when they arrive at our site, how are we going to present our site to them? In the need to envisage design thoughts for our site, we should appreciate: Simplicity is king; always.
Web surfers are most comfortable with standard design techniques that they are used to. When writing web page content, the document usually becomes part of a larger collection. It's important that the site follows a common structure so all the documents are available in a logical place. Bear in mind each individual document will likely have its own structural considerations.
The style of a document helps a reader to browse through it, in order to find the information they are looking for. All documents should share the same style (i.e. all your pages should be of uniform design throughout the site). This makes it easier to understand any particular document, and to jump to related information. Using the same template to create all documents will ensure each element is used for the same function in all documents. This also helps maintaining the documents in the long term because all documents share the same markup (page coding) style.
Once your visitor has made a decision to stay, draw their attention to what you feel they should see first; in other words, guide them through your site. Styling is personal but you must make it appealing to your target audience for effective results.
It's beneficial to surf around to get ideas from other sites on how they present site content to their audience. It's best to research sites of similar nature as your own as the content will be comparable. Remember, your site must have its own unique identity which is why you can't copy exact content and design from other sites.
Purpose: What is the purpose of my web site?
Goals: What are the goals of my web site?
Theme: What is the theme of my web site?
Keyphrase: What is my PRINCIPAL Keyphrase?
Keyphrases: What are my probable Keyphrases?
Title: What might my homepage title be?
Audience: Who are my target audience?
Content: What content (pages/forms/interactivity) do I want on my site?
Style: How do I want my site to be styled?
Adapted from Paula Thompson