How to Plan Your Website
Planning is the first step in building a good website. The following tips can help you plan the content and navigation of your site.
On this page
- Capture your goal
- Arrange & prioritize content
- Create a graphic design
- Building your website
Before planning your navigation consider:
- Who is your audience?
- How can you tailor your website to reach that audience?
- What is the purpose of your site?
- What content and services will it contain?
- What content will drive people back to your site?
- What are your sources for content?
- How often should the website be updated?
- Who is responsible for updating the website?
- What are other websites with similar goals or with a similar audience?
One way to capture your goal is to use our Website Planning Worksheet. Once you've worked with the worksheet, contact us in Web Services. We can review your needs, help you
- clarify your website goals
- strategize and plan your content
- consider how you'll use design to send the right message
- get you on the right track to building a great website
Contact us any time to setup a session.
After defining your project goals, take inventory of everything you might want to include on the site, and what you want your site to do for those who visit it. It's always extremely useful to get input from key people in your department or group and write down their suggestions.
Ask your target audience. If you want to appeal to students, ask them, too! Contact us in Web Services if you need help with gathering this type of research.
After you have brainstormed content, ask yourself, what areas are most important in supporting your ultimate site goals and objectives? Or better yet, how do your website goals map to your departments business goals? When you find that connection, you'll know which content to prioritize.
Identify these elements and begin to visualize how the reader will logically identify with the information.
Terms that you use within your department or group may not be meaningful to your audience. In fact, your audience could probably care less about your jargon—they just want to get what they need and get out.
What will be most important to your reader? Is this content something you'd like accessed from every page? Think about how you want the reader to navigate your site content. You're goal at this stage is to begin visualizing how the site will navigate. Consider content organization from your audience's perspective, not your perspective.
Make a visual flow chart
Use an organization flow chart model, or boxes with lines that link to sub categories. Or use a traditional outline format that is purely text-based. Identify your global navigation (links that should be included on all pages) and subgroups of these areas. Keep your site objectives and goals in mind as you prioritize information.
Write and finalize your content
It is a good idea to have most of your content finalized before you start working on your graphic design.
Don't let the technology stop you from getting started working on your content. Many people get started with a simple Word document.
As you write your content, you may want to be conscious of your editorial style and search engine optimization techniques.
Your content must drive your graphic design, instead of the graphic design driving your content. Site visitors come to your site for the content, not the design.
As you plan your graphic design, look at designs of other websites that have a similar audience or content focus to get inspiration or simply browse the World Wide Web for designs that area appealing. While you think of your design ideas, you want to keep into account our college fonts and colors as well as the our Logo Guide.
We have a few templates to get you started with creating your website design. You can also create your website design from scratch. If you don’t have the artistic or technical expertise to create a graphic design, there are a few resources available to get assistance.
If you've gone throught the steps above, you should have a solid organizational structure and you should be ready to start building your website. So, how do you start?
Use a Bellevue College template
To save you time, we provide some simple and flexible site templates on this site that come ready to use with a Bellevue College logo, and they are also already in compliance with our current web standards. Templates are intended to be a starting place, allowing you to add your own creativity with content, graphics and customizing the color scheme. So, don't worry—your site doesn't have to look like every other site on the web if you choose this option. And, if you need help customizing a template, contact us in Web Services. Check out the latest templates available.
Build from scratch
We've posted just a few examples of some of the great sites out there that offer step by step tutorials and training. You should also browse the Web and located site designs that you like to get ideas in how to best convey your site goals and content. If you feel you need training or assistance contact us, or utilize one of the great resources right here on campus to seek additional training.