This article goes into the the key steps that will help you with planning a website.
As a veteran designer, developer and project manager for more websites than I can count, I’ve identified a common problem with many Web projects: failure to plan. The same issues come up repeatedly in my work, so I’ve written this guide in order to help clients, other designers, businesses and organizations plan and realize successful websites.
This guide is written in relatively non-technical language and provides a broad overview of the process of developing a website, from the initial needs assessment through the launch, maintenance and follow-up. It is appropriate for:
- Small and medium-sized businesses;
- Web designers, developers, and design and development firms.
If you’re building a four-page website for your family reunion or a 5000-page website for a Fortune 500 company, then this guide might not be for you; it will either be too detailed or way too short, respectively.
Planning is essential for most businesses and organizations. In practice, many people fail to plan their websites. Sometimes the ever-busy, dynamic nature of running a business is to blame; there are so many operational demands that proper time is not allotted to projects. But this often happens because people fail to recognize that planning for the Web is just as important as planning for anything else in a business.
The (Lengthy) Deck Example
Consider the example of building a deck. If you want a deck for your house, you probably won’t call several carpenters and ask, “How much is a deck?” If you do, you’ll get the smart answer: “It depends.” In order to provide you with an estimate, a carpenter needs some details about the project:
- What kind of wood? Cedar? Treated? Synthetic?
- Where exactly will the deck go? Are there any obstacles to work around?
- What height will it be, and how many levels will it have?
- Do you want benches, railings, built-in planters?
- Do you have clearance to bring special equipment into your yard?
Then there is the host of other things for the carpenter to consider: scheduling, building permits, inspection, maintenance, etc. That’s why a smart carpenter will answer your simple question with “it depends.”
It makes sense to meet with more than one contractor to address the questions above and more. When you choose a carpenter, they should provide a detailed plan that you both sign. Throughout the building process, the carpenter should check in with you periodically and discuss potential challenges and snags.