Architecture and Navigation
Site Planning - Define Web site’s Goals and Purpose
To create a successful web site, consider
some critical bits of information.
- Determine the purpose of your site, define its boundaries.
- Identify your audience.
- Research your market and study competitors’ sites.
- Calculate a web site budget and financial goals for success.
- Set time lines and milestones.
- If there is a team, decide who is in charge.
The architecture of your site reflects the structure of your organization.
After deciding what aspects of your organization should be included on
the Web site, it’s time to outline the structure of the site, illustrating
the information from the top down (see sample outline below). In
this outline, the main sections of the site are defined, which will become
main pages of your Web
sections are broken down into subsections. From this outline, the number
and pages for each section and subsection is readily determined.
Sample outline and org chart
Click to Magnify
Marketing Goal Pages and Webmail Forms
Within the page structure, define the “marketing
These are the destination pages where visitors interact with your site.
After viewing your products and services, visitors can fill out a Webform
to request information or register for a function. When the form is submitted,
this information is emailed to you automatically.
Information from Webmail forms generates well-qualified leads. Collecting
and recording visitor information over time is an excellent way to
build email lists for future marketing campaigns.
If you are interested in e-commerce, these destination
page are where customers buy from your online store. An online store
customers to buy directly from your web site.
For many businesses, a simple online store is sufficient. Here are some
options in order of complexity:
- Online Brochure
A listing of
products or services, descriptions and prices is presented to customers
along with a telephone number. Visitors phone in their order.
- Online Order Form
A more automated approach is
a Webmail form listing products or services. Here customers check
off what they want, submit the order by email, then they send payment
- Online Shopping Carts
More complex stores allow customers select products and add them
to their shopping cart. They fill out personal and shipping information
Then in the final step, they process payment via credit
- top of page -
Design: Architecture and Art
Before building the site itself, answer these questions:
- What is the site's domain name?
- Who will host your web site?
- How will the site be branded? Source:
logos, business cards, letterhead
- What are the key design elements? Product or talent photos, colors,
- Who will write content?
Source: brochures, marketing materials, copywriter (see copy writing
for the Web)
- Do you need a
Web mail response forms?
- Do you want to build lists and respond to customers dynamically?
- Will you need streaming digital
media? Is audio or video an integral part of your business or organization?
useful to demonstrate products, services or content?
- Do you want customers to log in to secure areas of your site?
- Should visitors be able to
search your site for content?
Navigating your web site should be logical and intuitive. Visitors
should have visual clues for where they are now, how they got there and how to get back.
Navigation bars provide a list links to the different
levels of the site. Based on the hierarchy of the site, visitors
can move horizontally and vertically within the structure. Each tier
a separate navigation bar or have subdivisions built into the bar’s
design. Location of navigation
links is important, but, wherever they are located, consistent position
and visibility are
Navigation Bar Examples
If navigating the
site is confusing, visitors will leave. Label navigation links clearly
and consistently to give visitors cues where to find information on
- top of page -
For more information on Web site plan features,
visit our section on Web Site Package Plans.