Web design involves the structure of the website including the information architecture (navigation schemes and naming conventions), the layout or the pages (wireframes or page schematics are created to show consistent placement of items including functional features), and the conceptual design with branding.
All websites should begin with a clear strategy so that it is apparent what they are trying to achieve. The strategy then enables the design to fulfill defined goals.
Web design is similar (in a very simplistic way) to traditional print publishing. Every website is an information display container, just as a book; and every web page is like the page in a book.
It is essential to define the purpose of the website as one of the first steps in the planning process. A purpose statement should show focus based on what the website will accomplish and what the users will get from it. A clearly defined purpose will help the rest of the planning process as the audience is identified and the content of the site is developed. Setting short and long term goals for the website will help make the purpose clear and plan for the future when expansion, modification, and improvement will take place. Measurable objectives should be identified to track the progress of the site and determine success.
Content evaluation and organization requires that the purpose of the website be clearly defined. Collecting a list of the necessary content then organizing it according to the audience’s needs is a key step in website planning. In the process of gathering the content being offered, any items that do not support the defined purpose or accomplish target audience objectives should be removed. It is a good idea to test the content and purpose on a focus group and compare the offerings to the audience needs. The next step is to organize the basic information structure by categorizing the content and organizing it according to user needs. Each category should be named with a concise and descriptive title that will become a link on the website. Planning for the site’s content ensures that the wants or needs of the target audience and the purpose of the site will be fulfilled.
Purposing web design is a complex, but essential ongoing activity. Before creating and uploading a website, it is important to take the time to plan exactly what is needed in the website. Thoroughly considering the audience or target market, as well as defining the purpose and deciding what content will be developed, are extremely important.