Designing a Website: First Steps

After you get clear on the business goals and requirements for the website, it’s time to get started with the design.

When you buy furniture that you will need to assemble yourself, you know that you will probably spend 30 minutes or more either trying to assemble it without using the manual or figuring out what the manual wants you to do and in what order.

Web_DesigningThe design stage of a website, especially its first steps, is your opportunity to create an instruction manual and a framework for everyone else before they start moving the pixels around and demand that you do iterations and variations that are not needed in the first place.

Designing a website without creating a big picture or a general plan first is also not a good idea. Imagine getting 70% through the design and then realizing that you didn’t include some critically important functionality, such as a resource area.

In this scenario, you will have to re-do a lot of work that you could have done properly the first time if only you created a plan before that.

Such a plan is also known as a sitemap. A site map shows all major parts of a website, describes how they are connected and how they interact with each other. This is the basis for the navigation scheme that you will create later on.

The sitemap does not include any details that you need to build individual pages. For the pages of a website, you will need to create a collection of wireframes.

A wireframe includes global navigation, pieces of text and media and their location and the design of user interactions.

Once you create a wireframe, you need to test it with the users of the website. Testing is a long and iterative process that should continue all the way into the website development stage.

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