Commercial Web Site Planning

  1. Define the purpose of the site
  2. Define the target audience
  3. Plan the contents which will meet the purpose and serve the target audience
  4. Define the design principles
  5. Set priorities
  6. Review the site
  7. Market the site

1. Purpose of the Web Site?

A web site disseminates information and invites audience feedback. From a commercial point of view, a web site can market a company and its products, and provide valuable customer services. The first task in web planning is to list what the company hopes to achieve with its site.

2. Target Audience?

Who does the company want to see the web site? Who else will see it? The target audience helps define the content and design.

3. Content?

How will the purpose statement be achieved and the target audience served? You probably want people to visit the site, be interested enough to browse through the site, and to return to the site. A good first content aim is therefore to provide useful information that benefits the reader in some way.

Sites benefit from being easy to navigate with readers quickly being able to find information they want. Draw a navigation overview: a family tree format often works well.

4. Design Principles?

The purpose and audience may impose design constraints. Web pages will appear differently in different browsers, and different people have different connection speeds. Should, for example, images be used with restraint to minimise downloading time, or will my target readers have the latest browsers and high speed links.

5. Priorities?

Find out which pages should be written first and who is responsible for gathering information.

6. Review

7. Marketing

Once the opening pages of the web site are on-line, tell everyone about them. Here are some techniques for web marketing.

  1. Submit to Internet search engines. Target the most popular first, and any specifically aimed at the site's field. For each page submitted decide on the keywords which when searched for will return your page. To help decide these I recommending using the Google adwords service. Make sure the key words are in the title, first heading, first paragraph and elsewhere on the page. When linking to the page from other pages, make sure your keywords are in the link.
  2. Post messages, ideally answering questions, in one or two relevant newsgroups. Make sure to include your web address.
  3. Locate related sites and suggest that they may like to add your site.
  4. Send press releases to relevant magazines and newspapers detailing how the new site will be of interest to their readers. This applies both to print and internet publications.
  5. Quote the web address in all adverts and product literature (manuals, leaflets, newsletters and so on).
  6. Consider mailing a regular newsletter to subscribers. Use an automatic mailing program like Subscribe Me.

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Copyright Jill Studholme (http://www.studholme.net/) 1996-2004.
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July 2004
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