Website Planning and Inception

This is the most important part of setting up a website. If this part is not done properly, much time may be wasted.

Business Interests

Before beginning the task of planning and setting up the website, the business interests and objectives must be considered. Is this a business site that will have a budget? If so, what are the available resources? What are the goals of the business? How much should be paid for web hosting or credit card services?

Website Functionality

Along with the business interests and objectives for the site, the site functionality must be considered initially. This includes site functions as listed below:

  • Will the site need a shopping cart?
  • Will the site need a forums section?
  • Will the site need the ability to post content by people that are not technical?
  • Will the site need a an events calendar?
  • Will the site need an ability for third parties to post links?
  • Should the site have a guestbook?
  • Should the site be able to take polls?

Website Theme

The type and purpose of the organization will have a great deal to do with determining the theme of the website. The site purpose may be informational, it may be built to sell products, or it may contain some combination of themes and purposes. The type of information on the site and its purpose will help determine the theme. The site may be business oriented and traditional, it may be a non traditional business with attention grabbers. If the site is some organization with a group mission, it may be an uncomplicated site stating group purpose and mission with contact information along with some public information.

Website Content

The website content should be supportive of your main theme but be broad enough to allow for excellent promotional capability. Consider some of the following website content:

  • Consider providing free tutorials or information supportive of your site main theme.
  • Consider providing some chat groups or forums supportive of your main theme.
  • Consider providing web site awards to sites with themes similar to yours or to a broad category of web sites.

Website Layout

Generally the layout of the site is influenced by its theme, purpose, and navigational setup. The following should be thought about early in design:

When considering these items, the type of browser the user will be using should be considered. It should be considered whether the user's browser will support these features.

The web page should not be too crowded and have a reasonable amount of white space and graphics to make it pleasing to the eye. The web page should be designed to draw attention to its main theme. During layout, consider the fact that normally, the eye starts viewing somewhere near, but below the upper left (the upper left center) then moves to the right, then down.

Website Navigation - Frames?

Setting up navigation is a very important part of web layout. The user must be able to quickly and easily find the information they are looking for or they will probably go elsewhere. Things to consider include:

Color Scheme

Color schemes are very important on websites. I'm not an expert on color, but I like greens, and blues. I like light colors. Text and backgrounds must have a high amount of contrast. If one is dark, the other must be light. I have noticed that dark text is easier to read on a light background than light text on a dark background. When using a high resolution screen such as 1600 by 1200 resolution, it is difficult to see light text on dark backgrounds. Web designers should be aware of this. Red usually indicates warning, but I like to use it to draw attention and for additional color.

Website Graphics

Most good websites should have a reasonable quantity of graphics. Graphic items may be drawn pictures, charts, illustrative diagrams, or photographs. When using graphics, the designer should consider the time it will take to load over various internet media, such as serial lines using modems. There should be enough graphic content to make the page pleasing to the eye.

Text Fonts

There are many different text fonts available. The text fonts that will show up on the client computer are dependent on the fonts that are installed on that computer. Therefore, it is best to use text fonts that are commonly available. Also, different text fonts are not displayed the same with different browsers. You will notice this if Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer are used to view the same page side by side. I like to use Arial for normal text and Times New Roman font for header text on my web site. The Arial font is easy to read, and Times New Roman has serifs on the letters.

HTML

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language and is the format most web documents are placed in to be made available for viewing. HTML is simply used to indicate to the web browser, how to display the content. It uses elements consisting of sets of tags (beginning and end tag) to mark the type of elements such as paragraphs, headers, lists, and tables.

There is one significant note about HTML that concerns you whether you are technical or not. The current web standard as set by the World Wide Web Consortium at http://www.w3.org is XHTML. What this means is there are some additional construction rules for the markup language. Some rules involve proper nesting of elements and tags and using tags with lower case characters. See the HTML Guide Page about XHTML for more information about XHTML.

If your site is not written in XHTML, it does not mean your site will not function properly. It just means you are not using the latest standard. It would be best to use the latest standard, however, to avoid the possiblity of future work to bring it up to the standard. If you write the code yourself, you should use the XHTML standard. If you use an HTML page making tool, it should either output pages in XHTML or expect to be upgraded in the future for XHTML.

Website Creation Tools

There are several types of tools that may be used when creating a website. These include:

The person who is doing the work to create the site will determine the tools to use. If the person has good HTML knowledge, it may be preferable to hand enter HTML. with an HTML editor. Most who do not have this technical knowledge may not wish to take the time to learn it. Therefore it is fine to use tools such as Microsoft Front Page or the Netscape Communicator tool set. These tools allow you to edit the page as it is seen and takes care of the technical details of creating the page. Whatever tools you use, you should first evaluate them by reading reviews about them and ask other people who have used them such as can be done on forum and discussion websites. There are links to these types of websites in the main weblinks category at the Computer Technology Documentation Project Websites pages. Under the "Technical Information" header, click on the link that says "Technical Forums". The second half of the page has "Forum Sites for Website Owners"

Web Hosting Provider

It is just as important to pick the correct web hosting service as it is to pick the correct tools. Following are some considerations for a web hosting service:

As was done with the tools, the web hosting service should be evaluated before making a final selection. Use websites listed at the Computer Documentation Document Project or others that you may find using search engines or other methods. Read reviews about the specific services and ask people at web hosting forum and other forum websites. The Computer Technology Documentation Project Websites pages has a list of some providers under the header "Internet Services" in the link called "Web Page Hosting".

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