Why Plan?

Our experiences with previous clients show that many people who want a website don't really know where to start when creating their website specification.

This can be expensive hosting companies and web designers can charge huge sums of money for poor quality work or services.

For example, clients paid over £100  buying several domain names and then paid for email services that weren't included in any hosting packages.

Speaking to MK Web Design will help you create your website specification and enable to go forward, making decisions based upon a reasonable knowledge Base.

How to plan and implement your website

The process for implementing your site must be thoroughly planned and defined. It needs to have the content organised and structured and the design must be aesthetically pleasing. This applies to all websites. All must be built and all must be launched. All of them!

The process we use here at MK Digital Productions, will take you through the necessary steps and, in doing so, will help you overcome the pitfalls and enable you to reach the number one goal; Have a website that works, is user-friendly, conveys your message and sells your product.

The Project

For any web design the first step is to define the project! There's a bit of work involved in this:

Gather Information

Speak to your clients. Ask them about their experiences’ with your company and how they found you (both geographically and experientially). Did you provide other media for them? What were they? Leaflets? Brochures? Have you got images concerning your products or services?

Understand the Audience (users)

Who is your audience? Why do they want to visit your site? How do they find your site? How do they visit your site?

Identify the users' technical capabilities

How savvy are your users? Will they be able to cope with your expectations of their abilities on your site? Will they have the confidence to use your on site contact forms or any other functions?

Develop Functional requirements

What are the functions that you want? Flash Banners? Contact forms? Video? User registration and logon?

Analyse your industry.

Checkout the competition. How do their sites look and work? What functions do they have? How do their sites look and feel to you? How do you think they look and feel to their users?

Clarify the information

The answers to these questions will help you to clarify, define and set your goals! What’s more, they’ll help you address the often glossed over question, “Why do I want a website?

Planning

At last! You get to do some planning:

Create the Project Plan
Set the budget
Create schedules
Design and build

Develop Site Structure

Content and information strategy determines how to organise information so that users can find it quickly and easily. No matter the size and scope of a website, the need for a logical structure is a constant. Devising a well thought out structure will lay the foundations for everything to come. Including the visual presentation.

Addressing Content

Content and structure are irrevocably intertwined. One without the other will mean your site is lacking. Division and categorisation of content will define the sites backbone. Examine your content from the user's perspective. What content would visitors logically expect to see? Using old content is a trap. Because it's easier and available doesn't mean its right. Audit your existing material and any new ideas. Review copy, images, diagrams, media and etc. Outline content ideas using a familiar alpha-numeric format. Keep it logical and structured and as it develops, it should remain just that, logical and structured. We will help you after you've outlined your content ideas. Try to set a content delivery schedule. It seems that content always arrives late. But this planning will help keep delays to a minimum.

Site Mapping

When we start to get the content together, we can put the blueprint together of where content can be placed. This information will eventually translate into a sitemap which will serve as the backbone to the whole site. This will also allow us to decide on page views, what content will go on which pages.

Address the navigation

This is how your user will connect with the information they want. Offer the user familiarity by adopting consistent patterns. Use the same graphics and link methodology to give a sense of place so users know where they are, where they’re going and how to get back if they want to.

Page View

A bit like storyboarding, you can look at the site on a page-by-page view. You can begin to get the idea of how the pages gel and work together. Consider the users view. Does it look like a user can get from A to B in an efficient, easy-to-follow way? By testing paths, any confusing points can be found and addressed.

Design Visual Interface

The look of the graphic interface (the design) is the first thing the user will experience with your new website. Even before they begin to explore it, they'll see what it looks like.

Designing

The balance between creative expression and functional or technical restraints is a huge challenge. The design is about presenting a beautiful creation that matches the user's needs with solutions on many levels. If the design is compelling, a work of extreme beauty, but it's difficult to use, the site will not succeed.

Develop Concepts

Consider visual solutions that function and meet your objectives. Experiment with colour schemes and your brand/logo. Brand recognition revolves around consistency – logo, colour, service, performance. Don't be constrained by one idea, consider 2 or 3.

Design Smart

A smart design serves the audience. It takes account of the user's environment and capabilities. It's functional and fast loading. It focuses on the audience's experience rather than fulfilling fads and quirks. Using Flash™ and other media might detract from your audience experience. Don't overwhelm them. Use these media when necessary but don't let them distract or frustrate your audience.

Launch

Congratulations! You're ready to have your site go live. Now you have to consider; a) Going about bug-fixing; b) On-going maintenance (including Search Engine Optimisation).

Initial Launch No matter what testing has been done, there will always be something about a live site that isn't quite right. It may have something to do with the content or the position of an image or the quality of an image. It may be that one of the functions isn't quite right. Consider how it's going to be put right.

Maintenance

Your site may include articles that have to be updated regularly or news items that get included from time to time. How will that happen? Will that fall to your web designer? Or will you try to do? Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is vital for a site’s success. This process is ongoing as engines change their crawl methods or other sites come on line with fresher content or a different approach. How will you keep up?

Summary

The plan outlined isn't necessarily the way that you want to do it. But you need something like it to ensure you have a workflow plan that will help you:

Save time
Money
And heartache.

Call your plan a roadmap, a guide or anything that floats your boat. But have one.

If you have any questions about creating a plan, call us to discuss your needs.

I'd like to acknowledge the source of this idea. Thanks to Web Redesign 2.0: Workflow that Works; Authors; Kelly Goto and Emily Cotler.