The following information is provided as a get started guide. There are some things to think about and some positive actions to take. None of these items gets locked in concrete. Change is inevitable.
In a nutshell:
I will expand a bit on each of these:
What should the site achieve. Or to put it another way, How will I know that my web site is useful to my business?
Quite often, I have heard it said that 'If you are in business, you need a web site.' That may be true. However, web sites do nothing on their own. They need to have a purpose. What is more, it should be possible to determine if the web site is being useful to the business.
Because it is not enough to just have a web site. A web site must have a purpose and there should be measurable objectives that a site should achieve. If the objectives are not being achieved, it is time to revisit the development process.
A presence on the internet can make a significant difference to a company's success. However, that presence must compliment the company in both form and function.
A successful business model must be able to dynamically reflect the business environment. Changes must be able to be achieved while maintaining the day to day running of the business.
If the web site is to fully compliment the business, it must also be able to adapt in a timely manner. Likewise, the site's mission statement may change over time
This must depend on expectations. Realistic expectations and a preparedness to pursue the on-line community through interesting and relevant content are key factors in maintaining a successful site.
Without benchmarks, a site can be considered neither a success or a failure.
It is important to know who is visiting your site, how often and with what success. Statistics on visitors can be provided to assist in this process. Encouraging visitors to register and contribute to the site encourages return visits and allows you to better know your sites visitors. Registration also allows for regular newsletter/email campaigns. Mechanisms allowing feedback from visitors is invaluable in both fine tuning the content and engaging the visitor.
Expectations change over time and it is essential that the site is maintained so that it continues to meet them.
This determines the look and feel of the site. It is what generates the first initial reaction of interest without which the visitor moves on without reading the content. Design is also crucial to the ease and logic in the way information is presented and the way in which the visitor moves between the different pages of the site. A good start here is to gather some links to sites that appeal to you. Bearing in mind copyright laws, it is useful to have a list of two or three sites that you consider do the sort of job you are looking for. The layout drawing for this site is shown here to demonstrate both what is required and a lack of drawing skills.
The data requirements common to all sites such as uploading images, updating pages and storing standard information are already defined. What we need to do here is determine if there are specific data requirements for your business and include them in the design. This may include something as simple as adding a date of birth or age bracket to an existing data store or may extend to the requirement for new tables to store data.
Content is what gets your message across. Succinct, relevant and interesting content will maintain the interest and get your message understood.
A web site will have a default page, often referred to as the home page. This is the page that is presented if the visitor only enters the domain name.
This is usually the first page that a visitor will see. It needs to grab the visitors attention, provide information on what your business does. Then allow the visitor to easily proceed through other pages to determine it's appropriateness.
As a guide a site may also contain pages such as:
This page (or pages) provide more detailed information on what is offered. It may contain a picture gallery or list of products with images
Provides the ability for the visitor to express interest in the product/service offered and request further information
The number of pages is only limited by the complexity that comes with navigating through too many page to find the necessary information. There is also the need to maintain the content and ensure its relevance. too much information can be difficult for your visitors to navigate and a burden to maintain.
Here is the initial page plan for this site. The site continues to grow and adding pages is a simple matter. Start small and grow is a good mantra. (The pages listed on one line separated by commas make a drop down menu)
|Running Costs (PA)|
|Set up (One off)|
|- - - -|
|Total (1st year)||$855|