Before you get too far along in making decisions about your new website, you should spend some quality time thinking about some important considerations. All of these questions may not apply in all circumstances, but some of them may elicit critical thoughts that you’ll want to incorporate in the structure, design, and functioning of your site.
If you consider these topics and capture your thoughts on those that are especially relevant to you, you’ll make the planning process that much more effective and efficient.
Do you have a domain name registered? If so:
- Can you access your domain registration account? (username, password)
- When will the primary domain name come up for renewal?
- What other domain names have you registered? Do they point to your existing site?
- Are there similarly-named sites that often get confused with your site?
- Is your domain name easily misspelled?
- Are you satisfied with your domain name(s)?
Do you have an existing website or blog? If so:
- Where is the site currently hosted?
- What are the current hosting account specifics? (Control panel access, FTP access, size/bandwidth limitations, etc.)
- Can you access/interface with any related accounts? (Paypal, Constant Contact, etc.)
- Any other special requests, considerations, or questions regarding your hosting account requirements?
- What is that you want to communicate?
- Who do you consider your “target audience”?
- Why would your target audience be interested in the information your site will offer?
- How will your target users be primarily drawn or directed to your site? (referring links, direct url access, search engines?)
- Why will your target users return to your site on a regular basis?
- What are the 5 most important descriptors (adjectives, adverbs) that you want to communicate to your users?
- How will you measure the success of your new site?
Site Content and Structure Considerations
- Do you have an existing site or blog?
- What existing content needs to be accessible? How to migrate existing content?
- What new content needs to be created?
- How often will new content be created?
- How often will content be modified, updated, or refreshed?
- What graphical elements (logos, images, symbols) do you want to include?
- What content could be on the home page?
- What content could be on every page?
- What are important keywords or search terms that will be associated with your site and its content?
Site Design Requirements and Considerations
General Design Preferences
What’s the general look-and-feel you like or want? What do you NOT want?
What colors do you like or feel are appropriate? What colors do you NOT like/want?
Are there websites that generally reflect the look-and-feel you want?
Do you have any particular preferences for font types?
Structural and Functional Considerations
What are the 3-7 different categories or major subject areas that you want to organize your site around? In other words, from your home page, what are the navigation choices you want to offer to your users/visitors?
From your perspective, what do you want your users/visitors to do when they reach your home page?
From the users/visitors’ perspective, what would you as a user want to be able to do from the home page?
What content do you envision would be more or less static, i.e., pages with information that would not need much updating?
What content do you envision would be more dynamic, i.e., new content being added (like a blog, news postings, etc.)?
What graphics or visual elements do you want to use? (logo, photos, backgrounds, etc.)
Think about how visitors would find your site from a Google or Bing search. What search terms or keywords would you want to lead to your site?
- Main Content
- Second/alternative menu
- External links
- Content to highlight
- Unique elements for home page
- Common elements for all pages
- Blog categories
- Logo, watermark
- Contact form/page
- RSS subscribe button
- Sharing buttons (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)
- Tag cloud
- Recent posts
- Quotations, Testimonials
- Site maps (XML, HTML)
- Google Analytics
- Polls, surveys
- Keywords, Tags
- Sign up for newsletter, info, emails
- Color palette: backgrounds, fonts, borders, links (hover, visited)
- Font family: headings, text, sizes, emphasis
- Layout: sidebars, widths
- Place elements common to all pages
- Select images, determine how they’ll be used
- File naming conventions
- Local files/folders organization
- Server files/folders organization