Checklist for a Successful Web Site Design

2003 Viki Nygaard

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Designing a Web site can be a time consuming and often complicated task. Even if you have a general idea or a vision for your site, there are many details that will need your attention before the project is completed. How in the world do you keep up with it all?

We suggest that you start a journal that will contain your thoughts, notes, and ideas for your Web site design. You can use a standard manila file folder and loose-leaf paper or you may want to create a folder on your computer and use a text editor such as Microsoft Word for your pages. Label your folder "My Web Site". You will need six pages. Label each page as follows:

1. Purpose and Goals
2. Target Audience
3. What I Like
4. What I Don't Like
5. Site Map
6. Other Thoughts/Ideas

Or feel free to visit to download the worksheets we use. (This is also the page we use when customers hire us. Please look beyond the information and deposit sections. The worksheet you need is starts with the question "What is the purpose of your site?")

1. Purpose and Goals

What is the purpose of your Web site? What do you hope to achieve with it? What are your goals? Is your purpose to attract a larger audience through search engines? Or to provide information to your current customer base? Jot down your thoughts on your "Purpose and Goals" worksheet. This will help keep you focused on working towards and achieving the goals you set for your Web site.

2. Target Audience

Take some time to think about who your target audience is. What is their age group? Their gender? Most importantly, what sort of a Web design interface is going to appeal to them?

What do you plan to say to them? Do you have a good idea of how to communicate with your target customer through your Web site copy? Consider what their problems are and how you plan to offers solutions to those problems through your product or service. Write down your thoughts on your "Target Audience" worksheet.

3. What You Like

Spend time browsing the Web. Take note of the Web sites that appeal to you. What is it you like about them? The layout? The colors? The navigation? The fonts?

Think about how you would like your Web site layout to look. Write down the URL's of several Web sites that have a layout similar to what you would like to have on your Web site. Add notes on what you like about the layout to your "What I Like" worksheet.

What kind of navigation links would you like for your site? Buttons? Tabs? Text links? Drop down menu? A combination? Again, take note of the URL's of several Web sites that have navigation links that you like.

Carefully choose your colors. We can't emphasize enough how important the colors are. Keep your target audience in mind - what would appeal to them? Remember that colors represent emotions and perceptions.

  • Elegant, business-like colors include dark colors such as navy blue and burgundy.

  • Fresh, healthy colors include bright colors such as pale yellows, blues and greens.

  • Loud, high-impact colors include vibrant colors such as red and bright shades of yellow, blue, orange and purple and black.

When you see a Web site that has a color or color scheme that you would like for your site be sure to write down the URL on your worksheet! We recommend choosing one color that will be your primary color throughout the site and one or two complimentary colors.

If you choose a background color other than white for your Web site, make sure you choose a text color that is easily read on that background color.

We recommend using an easy-to-read font for the majority of your text, but fancy fonts can be used for headings and subheadings. Take note of several Web sites that use fonts that you like.

4. What You Don't Like

It is also important that you take notes on Web sites you don't like. What don't you like about them? Are they visually overwhelming? Difficult to read? Write down the URLs of several Web sites that you do not like with a short explanation as to why you don't like them on your "What I Don't Like" worksheet.

5. Site Map

Decide on how many pages you would like to start out with. More pages can be added in the future as your company grows.

Home Page - This is the first page of your Web site and it is mandatory. It's also known as the index page. It should clearly state what your Web site is about. It sometimes includes a mission statement and contains links to your "inner" pages. This page is your most valuable page, as it is the front door to your Web site and will be the first impression that your visitors will have of you.
Inner Pages - here is a listing of some of the most popular inner pages. You can customize this list by adding to it or subtracting from it to meet your needs:

  • About Us Page - This is a page about you and/or your company. It may include your credentials or your resume. You may also what to include your picture.

  • Resources Page - This page contains a listing of links and resources that are relevant to your Web site and may be of interest to your visitors. This is a good place to list Web sites that you have affiliate programs with.

  • Services/Rates Page - This page contains a listing of your services or products and can also list your rates and prices.

  • Contact Us Page - This is a page that contains information on how to contact you. Often times it contains a form for your visitors to fill out. It may also contain your address, phone number, fax number and email address.

  • Testimonials - This page may contain letters of recommendation or testimonials that your clients have written for you.

  • Terms of Use/Disclaimer Page - This page provides a clear definition of how you intend to use information collected on your site.

  • Site Map - This is a page devoted to site navigation and contains a detailed map of your Web site.

  • Other - Write down any thoughts you have for additional pages.

6. Other Thoughts/Ideas

Take note of any other thoughts and ideas that you have for your Web site. Do you want your navigation buttons to change when the mouse rolls over them? Do you want a copyright statement at the bottom of your pages (recommended)? Do you want a Flash movie added to your Web site? Message board? Polls? Any other special features? Add these to your "Other Thoughts/Ideas" worksheet.

Once you have filled up your journal with your thoughts and ideas, it is time to hand it over to your designer along with the copy (text) for your pages.

Your designer will be most impressed with the information and clear insight you're able to provide. You'll also save a lot of time by clearing up questions regarding your design before they ever crop up. Just like creating a plan for your business strategy or marketing efforts, creating a plan for the creation and design of your site is highly recommended.

Viki Nygaard is President of Mount Evans Designs specializing in professional Web design. For those businesses who insist on quality but must maintain a budget, visit today. You'll be thrilled with the exceptional designs and the affordable rates!