HTML and CSS Reference
Web Site Planning
Web site planning, which is the first phase of the Web development life cycle,
involves identifying the goals or purpose of the Web site. The first step in the Web
site planning phase is to answer the question “What is the purpose of this Web site?”
As you have learned, individuals and groups design and publish Web sites for a variety
of purposes. Individuals develop Web sites to share their hobbies, to post résumés,
or just to share ideas on personal interests. Organizations create Web sites to keep
members informed of upcoming events or to recruit new members. Businesses create
Web sites to advertise and sell products or to give their customers 24-hour online
support. Instructors publish Web sites, or add information to their courses using the
school's online course management software, to inform students of course policies,
assignments, and due dates, as well as course requirements. Until you can adequately
identify the intended purpose of the Web site, you should not proceed with the Web
In addition to understanding the Web site's purpose, you should also understand
who will use the Web site and the computing environments of most of the users.
Knowing the makeup of your target audience — including age, gender, general
demographic background, and level of computer literacy — will help you design a Web
site appropriate for the target users. Understanding users' computing environments
will determine what types of Web technologies to use. For example, if most users have
low-speed Internet connections, you would not want to create pages with large graphics
or multimedia elements.
A final aspect to the Web site planning phase is to identify the content owners and
authors. To determine this, you need to ask the questions:
Who owns and authors the information on the Web site?
Who decides if/where the information goes on the Web site?
Once you have identified who will provide and authorize the Web site content, you
can include those individuals in all aspects of the Web development project.
Web Site Analysis
During the analysis phase, you make decisions about the Web site content and
functionality. To help define the appropriate Web site content and functionality, you
should first identify the tasks that users need to perform. Answering that question allows
you to define necessary content to facilitate those tasks and determine useful information
for the users. Extraneous content that does not serve any purpose should be eliminated
from the Web site.
In the analysis phase, it is also important to consider the processes required to
support Web site features. For example, if you determine that users should be able to
order products through the Web site, then you also need to define the processes or actions
to be taken each time an order is submitted. For instance, after an order is submitted,
how will that order be processed throughout the back-office business applications such
as inventory control and accounts payable? Will users receive e-mail confirmations with
details about their orders? The analysis phase is one of the more important phases in the
Web development life cycle. Clearly understanding and defining the desired content and
functionality of the Web site will direct the type of Web site that you design and reduce
changes during Web site development.