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August 25, 2005

Organizing, acquiring, and creating content for your website - Part One

cartoonmapsm.jpg

Having reviewed our goals and those of our audience, we should now be at the stage where we have a list of content ideas. Some of these we've come up with on our own and some have been suggested by our prospective site visitors.

If you are like me you may have these items scrawled out in no particular order on a legal pad, note cards, or the back of an unused airsickness bag. Now is the time to make sense of them.

Organizing your content
The first thing I try to do is arrange my items into logical clusters, then give names to the clusters. These names will become the items in the menu on our site.


alumnimapsm.jpg

One way to do this would be to write each topic on a post-it note and put it on the wall. This way you can move things around as you see natural clusters forming. You could also do this with notecards on a bulletin board, or you could move them around in the computer program of your choice. Any technique will do so long as it makes sense to you.

Our objective in clumping these topics together is to build a map of our website. This can be illustrated as a flowchart as shown above, or done in a simple outline.

Here on the Department of Cartooning Sitemap you will see one possible way to arrange the content. Some categories have only a few items while others have so many that they can be broken up into sub categories. I've arranged them so the category names are both descriptive and fairly general. I want terms that will be understandable to a wide audience so that users won't have to stumble blindly through the site in the hopes of finding something specific such as the page on pens and pencils. I'm hoping that resources will appear to be an obvious category for this topic and that they won't look first in About Us or Academics. Given that people process information differently there is no guarantee that this will make sense to each and every user, but my hope is that by using broad categories I can funnel the users through the broad terms on down to more specific items.

Reviewing the sitemap
Now that I've built my sitemap I have a clear picture in my head of where everything will go and what pages I will need to create. I can see by the structure of my site that Case's advanced template will work well for the site because it allows for a primary horizontal menu as well as vertical submenus that can be used within each section.

My sitemap may also indicate changes that should be made. While looking at this map I've realized that I've not created a portfolio category to showcase the work of our students. I may be missing other things as well so at this point it is probably a good idea to share the map with others in your department who can help you finalize the map.

Once you and your team have agreed on the site map you can start acquiring your content. We'll discuss that in detail in Part Two.

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Posted by: Heidi Cool August 25, 2005 10:50 AM | Category: Heidi's Entries , Planning Your Website

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Posted by: hac4 (Heidi Cool) August 25, 2005 10:50 AM | Comments (0) | Trackback