PLANNING YOUR SITE

GENERAL NOTES I cannot reinforce too much that having a well thought out plan or outline is the key to a successful website also saves time which reduces the cost and ensure your site will be running quicker. Also remember that web designers are experts in their field but may not be an expert in yours.
If you site is aimed at the general public, keep it simple so that they can under stand the terms and language use.

Keep the site user friendly.
Do not put too much on each page. Attempting to put vast amounts on one page will not reduce the cost since this is based on the amount of time it takes to create the site not purely on number of pages.
Keep each subject on separate page, also this makes it more likely that it will be found by the search engines as they will index each page by the page title, meta description, key words, <h1>Heading</h1>, <h2>Subheading</h2>. The search engines use the these tags to find the headings and subheadings. Page title, tags and content and should all be relative to each other. See SEO

NAVIGATION
There is a limit to the number of main menus that will fit neatly on the page. Sites with large number of pages, either use dropdown menus (see socoa or gfles) or submenus on each page like on this site or text links where necessary on the page (see johnglynn). Whichever method used, it is important your prospective clients can navigate around your site easily and quickly to find what they are looking. The general rule no more than 3 clicks, ideally no more than 2 clicks. If the surfer cannot find what they are looking for quickly they will simply go to a site that they can.

PLANNING Whether you going to build your own website (DIY) or have it professionally built, you need to know your objectives, aims and have an outline plan before you start. Once the framework for the website is set up it can be difficult to change so therefore it will save both time and money in the long run to spend some time on planning. Initially I do this on paper, then use a word processor as its easier and neater to insert, move and delete items. Generally, better the plan the cheaper cost and the quicker the site is up and running.
It can help by seeing what your opposition is up to. I'm not suggesting that you should copy their sites, apart from not being very ethical, and the problems of copyright. Your site should stand out as being yours and independent to the other sites.
If using a professional designer it can help to give a list of websites you do and don't like with the your reasons why.

PAGE CONTENT
First consideration is the general content of each page. This can also be done on a word processor, for each web page use separate page. Be aware that the word processor puts hidden formatting information within the text. The safest is to use text only option (saved as .txt) as this removes the hidden and unwanted formatting. The formatting will be set by a separate .css file (Cascading Style Sheet).

HOME PAGE (menu heading) Sample Layout

index page  (outlining the ideas)
my portfolio (samples of work)
(when you have a brainwave write it down straight away before you forget )

PROFILES (menu heading)

about bob
my mission
environmental policy*
privacy policy*
testimonials

etc, etc

To avoid losing surfers following a link away from your site or to pages without a menu or return link, mark these pages to be opened in a new page or tab (target="_blank"). In this example I have noted these with a (*).  Initially don't get bogged down with details, these can be added and improved later on.

STYLES
If you are using a web designer make a separate note of your colour and style preferences.

BUILDING METHODS You can build it your self (DIY). You can use our free online WebBuilder or use a offline program i.e., FrontPage, DreamWeaver and may others) which converts the design into the necessary html code that browsers need.
Or have this professionally done for you with the benefits that your website is running quicker and leaving your free to keep your focus on running your business. 

STYLE SHEET
Keep the style separate from the html code use a css file (Cascading Style Sheet). This makes it easy to maintain a consistency between pages and simple to change the style.

FONTS
Either leave the fort styling to your designer or list your preferred fonts. Remember that the font styles that you use are on YOUR computer and may not necessary be on the surfer's computer! Should you use a font that is unavailable then these will be substituted by the suffers computer. The font used for the heading on this website is "Dom Casual" so to ensure this style is followed correctly even if the font is unavailable on the surfers computer, it is implemented as a picture of the text and not as actual text.

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10/04/2015