BEFORE YOU BEGIN
14 About Planning Your Site
16 Match Your Design and Content to Your Audience
Before working on your site, there are several steps to take. First, as outlined in 14 About Planning Your Site , decide why you want to build a website. Is it to share news with friends and family? Pontificate about world events? Try to sell auction items?
Based on that, you need to decide on what kind of website you want to build. There are three basic kinds of websites you might want to create:
A personal site , where you might simply want to share your hobbies or personal musings with the world on a site or blog .
Blog A website that is in diary-like format, in which there are a series of short, dated entries. Many blogs also allow for readers to post comments on the site.
A website for a non-profit group , such as a youth soccer league, or school, in which you want to share information about the group.
A business site , in which you publicize your business, or take orders over the Internet.
As a first step in deciding on what you want to present, consider writing a mission statement. A mission statement is one or two sentences that describe succinctly the point of your sitein short, its mission. When drawing one up, make sure it's not too long. A too-long mission statement usually means that you can't decide on the primary reason you're building a website.
Keep in mind that you shouldn't try to mix and match these sites. In other words, don't try to create a website that is both a personal site and a business site. Your customers might not really appreciate having to read about your pet chinchilla, or your collection of vintage license plates.
Got a hobby you want to share with the world? Need to get something off your chest? Do you want your own personal soapbox?
Those are just some of the reasons why you might want to build a personal website or blog. Many people create them to keep in touch with friends and family, or just to announce to the world, "I'm here!" And they're great places to post pictures of yourself, your family, and your vacation. (For more information about blogs, turn to 180 About Blogging .)
In fact, the only reason you might want to build a personal website is just for the fun of doing it.
No matter your reason, though, your personal website should be as much as possible a personal reflection of yourself. You can also make the design as informal as you want, and can disclose only the information about yourself that you want. In short, when it comes to building a personal website, the only real rules you need to make are your own. You can be as wild or staid as you want.
Just about any non-profit group could make good use of a website. Whether it's an amateur theater group, a neighborhood association, a parent group, a youth soccer league, a charitable organization, or almost any other kind of non-profit group, there are good reasons to build a website for it.
One of the main reasons for building this kind of website is to get the word out about the groupfor example, to do fund-raising, get people to join, or get people to take some kind of action. Calendars, information about upcoming events, basic information about the group, and contacts are just some of the other kinds of basic information you'll put on this site. This type of site will have to be more formal-looking than a personal site.
In addition to doing good, building a website for a non-profit has another benefit as wellit can help you in your career. When you build one, you'll get real-world, practical experience that will make your resum ƒ stand out from others.
One more thing to keep in mind when building this site: Often, it will require the input of many people, and many people may have to sign off on it before it's posted. So if you're building this sort of site, leave plenty of time for others to review it.
If you have a small business, the benefits of building a website are fairly obvious. It's a great way to get new customers, to keep in touch with existing customers, and to keep in touch with suppliers. And you can also use your website to take orders, as well.
This kind of website should be the most formal looking of the three major types of sites. And considering that the site is intended to make money, you should think about spending more for a hosting service than you will for a personal website or non-profit website. It'll be worth your while to pay extra for a site that has substantial backup. And in any event, if you want to take orders over the Web, you might have to pay extra for a hosting service that offers this feature.
Sometimes it's a good idea to mix business and pleasure . If you have a personal website, consider posting your resum ƒ there and updating it regularly, even if you aren't looking for work. It's free, it's easy to do, and you never know what kind of work it might bring your way.