What Do I Need to Design a Website?

Ever wonder what you need to design a website? It’s easy. Here’s a checklist. Some items are thought process, others are physical actions. All are absolutely necessary for a web site design to be a success.

Identify the need

You need to identify why you need a website and what it’s purpose is. You may think this is obvious but you would not believe the number of people who come to me with out a basic idea of what need they were trying to solve with their webiste.

Audience

Consider the audience. After all, it’s real people that will be clicking and using your site. Who are they? What are they like? How will they interact with your site? What exactly will they do what and how will they do it?

Goals

What is the mission of the site? Are you trying to sell something? Provide something? Advertise, generate leads or convince surfers to take some kind of specific action? You must establish this before building your site. Identify your site’s goals and design your website to facilitate them.

Create a Sitemap

Now that you have your need, audience, and goals identified, it’s time to map out the web pages needed to satisfy the website’s mission.

What elements will you need to provide what you are looking to provide? What pages will you need to make this happen? Start with a blank piece of paper and sketch out boxers – one for each page, starting with the home page – and go from there. Keep at it until you can create a story board of what a user would go through to accomplish a single goal using your site.

Identify Constraints and Tools Needed

I group tools and constraints together in website design because this is often the case. You may have an existing site or already have content or data in one sort of format that will force your hand to use a specific technology.

Or, after you finished your audience analysis, you may realize that only certain kinds of technologies will work at all. For example, you may need to use WordPress because you need to have a CMS and a blog. You may decide that you absolutely cannot use Flash because your site is for the visual impaired.

Technologies are all just tools that are available to you in your toolbox. Treat them that way. Do you see a specific need for how your site must be designed? Choose the appropriate tool for the job.

OK, that’s my list for what you need to design a website. You may be interested in other items, like styles, or individual technologies or other prep items. Please let me know below and I’ll sever up those guides asap!

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