BEFORE YOU BEGIN
15 About Focusing on What You Want to Present
16 Match Your Design and Content to Your Audience
14 About Planning Your Site
Now that you've gone to so much effort to list all the content you might want on your site, it's time to get it all organized. At this point, you should have a large, sprawling list of ideas. If you've done your homework, there's far more information than you'll ever be able to publish. In fact, if there's not more information than you can possibly use, you've probably done something wrong.
So how to put that mass of information into a more coherent whole? Follow these steps, and you'll start to get it all into shape.
Group Related Ideas
Study your ideas for a while, and you'll notice that they fall into related topics. For example, on a personal web page, you could group together all your hobbies and personal interests, or you could group your resum ƒ with information about your current job. On a non-profit website, you could combine email and phone contact information with driving directions on how to get to the group's headquarters.
Also, put related interactivity together. You might want visitors to your site to be able to chat with one another, be able to sign a guestbook, or take interactive polls of some kind. If so, put them all in one area.
17. Organize Your Site's Content
A web page can have as little or as much information as you want on it. If you include a great deal of writing on it, the page simply scrolls ‚ and scrolls ‚ and scrolls . But how much information is too much? Keep your information as bite- sized as possible on the Web, otherwise you'll lose people's attention. A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn't have more than about 350 words per page. There are exceptions, of coursefor example, if your page is made up of short diary entries in a "blog"-like fashion, a page can be longer because people can pick and choose among those snippets. But in general, when it comes to the Web, less is more. Also, keep in mind that too many graphics on a page will make the page load very slowly, so you want to keep them under control as well.
Prune the Groups
Too many groups spoil the site. These groups that you've just created will become the main sections of your website. You should limit them to no more than between five to seven. If you have any more than five to seven of them, people will soon get lostand in fact, when people come to the site, they might see how sprawling the site is and not even bother to stay.
So either cut out the groups that are peripheral, or else combine several groups into one. Under each group, list all the information that you want to have in that group.
Prioritize Your Topics
You should now have five to seven topics, with several (or many) ideas under each of those topics. But not all ideas are created equalsome are more important than others. So prioritize. Put a 1, 2, or 3 next to each of your ideas, according to its importance, with a 1 being the most important. (You shouldn't number your topics, but rather the ideas under each topic.) When it comes time to design your site, you'll probably want to start only with the number 1s on your list. If you want to grow it from there, you can move to the number 2s and number 3s.
Look for Links Between Ideas
The heart of the Web is the capability to link pages to one another. So look at your information and start thinking about which pages should be linked to which. You can't link every page to every other page, because that quickly becomes far too confusing. But you will notice ideas that should be linked to each other. For example, if you have a page that mentions each member of your family, and also have a page with photos, you'll want to link the names of your family members to their photos, and vice versa.
Consider Links to Other Sites
It's a good idea not only to link to pages on your own site, but also to other websites as well. Although you might think doing so will send people away from your site, that isn't the case. If people know they can find good links from your site to other useful or entertaining sites, they'll keep coming back to yours for more.
People love clicking around the Web and are always looking for new sites to visit. So on your personal website, consider creating a favorite links page. Describe each and why you like the site. Rather than a single, long list, group the links into related subjectsfor example, sports, cooking, travel, and so on.
Think About Graphics
When you start building your website, you'll find out that one of the most difficult problems is getting fresh sources of graphics. So it's never too early to start thinking about what kind of graphics you'll want to usethe more time you spend thinking about what they should be and how you can find them, the better.