The Web Development Blog has moved to http://www.heidicool.com/blog/. Please visit me there to read the latest entries and to update your bookmarks and RSS feeds.
July 01, 2005
So you want to build a website
This is the first in a series of entries on how to plan your website. Whether you are starting from scratch or rebuilding an existing site, I hope this will help you understand how with careful planning you can build a site that serves the needs of your target audience.
Now that you've decided to make a site, you are probably thinking about colors, html and menus, etc. But just as one doesn't hit the ball in one's first tennis lesson, one doesn't start a website by jumping into the code.
Instead, the first question you should ask yourself is: WHY?
Why do you need the site?
Initial responses to this question often include things like:
- My boss said we need a site and she put me in charge because I'm good with computers.
- I want to learn HTML.
- I have 50 cute pictures of Rottweilers that I want to share with the world.
While those may be true, they're not the real reason you need to build the site. The real reason involves your goals. (If your goal is to learn HTML, then pick a topic with which you are familiar, and pick your goals accordingly. I'd recommend something with a narrow focus such as the wonderful things you can do with capers as opposed to the history of nanotechnology.)
What are your real goals?
Here at Case I find that goals tend to involve the distribution of basic information, dissemination of knowledge, and a marketing call to action.
Basic information usually includes the location of your office, hours you are available, a directory of staff and faculty in the department, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc.
Dissemination of knowledge involves the sharing of more in-depth information. Examples would include a biography of Bertolt Brecht, a tutorial on the double helix, your grandmother's compendium of apple pie recipes, information on configuring your e-mail program, or reviews of B Movies featuring creatures from other planets complete with cast lists, photos and the names of the costumers.
Marketing (for our purposes) means a call to action. What do you want people to do as a result of visiting your website? Examples might be:
- Apply for admission to your program.
- Attend events such as your gaming/pizzafest marathon.
- Donate money to a memorial scholarship fund.
- Read Chapters 12-15 before Tuesday's class.
- Participate in your research project.
Almost all of you will have one or more marketing goals.
So let's say you're the one with the 50 pictures of cute Rotties. What are your real reasons for building the site? Do you just want to share your photos with other Rottweiler fans? Do you want people to hire you to take pictures of their dogs? Do you want to educate the public about Rottweilers and dispel myths about their viciousness? Do you want to provide information about the care and training of Rottweilers so that their owners will treat them with the respect and affection they may need? All of the above? Something else?
Think carefully about this. When you have a clear idea of your goals we can go onto the next steps: Understanding your target audience and choosing the content you need to support your goals.
Happy July 4th!Next >>
TrackbacksTrackback URL for this entry is: So you want to build a website
Office of Marketing and Communications