BEFORE YOU BEGIN
14 About Planning Your Site
15 About Focusing on What You Want to Present
17 Organize Your Site's Content
So now you've taken the first stepyou've decided what kind of website you want to build. Now comes an even harder part. You have to figure out who your target audience is, what kind of content to put on the site, and then match the design of the site to the information you want to present and your target audience. In this task, you'll learn how to do all that.
Define Your Audience
Knowing the kind of site you want to build isn't enoughyou also have to define what kind of audience you're after. And the best way to define your audience is to ask yourself questions about who they are. Be as specific as possible. Here are some basic questions to ask. Don't stop here, though. Add questions of your own.
Create a Visitor Profile
After you answer these questions, you've got a good start on understanding your intended audience. Based on your answers, write a short profile of who your primary visitors will be. Be as specific as possible. Keep in mind that the content and design of your site should be aimed primarily at them, so you want to define them as comprehensively as you possibly can. You might also want to create a profile of your secondary visitors or even tertiary visitors. You can design part of the site for them as well. But don't let that distract you from the main point of this exercisedeciding who is your target audience.
Decide on Interactivity
No matter who your audience, make sure to ask yourself one basic question about them: Will they want interactivity of some sort with the site, with you, or with your business or group? For example, if they want to be able to get answers to questions, or to contact you directly, make sure to include a link that they can click on to send you email. And if you're creating a blog, decide whether you want to let visitors post comments. (See 193 Limit Who Can Comment on Your Blog .)
Determine the Content
You now should have a profile of your target audience. Now it's time to figure out what kind of content they want.
Start off in brainstorming mode. Don't expect to be able to figure this out in a logical manner. Get a piece of paper and a pen, and start off by writing down a comprehensive list of everything you think your target audience would want from your website. Keep referring back to your audience description, and focus on your primary audience first. Don't worry about trying to organize the information at this pointjust keep writing down ideas. And don't think yet about how you might present the information; that comes later.
Just in case you need some help to get you started with figuring out what kind of content you should have, here's a very short list of things to consider, for each kind of the three main types of websites you might want to create.
Include These Must-Haves
No matter the kind of website you're building, there are three piece of information that should be on it. You should include contact informationand if it's a personal site, you'll probably only want to include an email address rather than a phone number so that you don't get crank calls. You should also include an "About" statement, which describes the purpose of the site or group. And you should also have a FAQ area. FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions, and it's a list of common questions that people might ask. You'll be amazed at how much a simple FAQ page can help your visitors.
Put It All on Paper
Make sure that you put everything down on paperdon't assume you'll remember it all. Don't worry about organizing all your material at this point. Just get it down on paper. In the next task, you'll find out how to organize it into a coherent whole.