Design Strategy

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.

Site Architecture

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 the main pages of your Web site. Next, these sections are broken down into subsections. From this outline, the number of tiers 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 goal” pages. 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.

Online Stores

If you are interested in e-commerce, these destination page are where customers buy from your online store. An online store allows 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Online Order Form
    A more automated approach is to provide a Webmail form listing products or services. Here customers check off what they want, submit the order by email, then they send payment separately.
  3. Online Shopping Carts
    More complex stores allow customers select products and add them to their shopping cart. They fill out personal and shipping information forms. Then in the final step, they process payment via credit card.

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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, style?
  • 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?
  • Will animation be 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?

Site Navigation

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
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 can have 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 equally important.

Navigation Bars
Navigation Bar Examples

Hyperlink Labels
If navigating the site is confusing, visitors will leave. Label navigation links clearly and consistently to give visitors cues where to find information on your site.

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Web Site Packages

For more information on Web site plan features, visit our section on Web Site Package Plans.