When a man does not know what harbor he is making for,
no wind is the right wind.

[Seneca]

I produced my first web-site design over a decade ago. At the time, I’d never seen the internet but I’d taught myself the basics of writing HTML. I started with a goal-and-objectives statement. Then I outlined the structure, content, and mechanics of the site. I ended my planning stage by producing an intricate site diagram. The visual-design stage and gathering of resources followed. Because of all this preliminary work, the actual page production was easy. When it was complete, there were no glitches to fix and the site was launched without further tweaks.

Since then, I’ve designed and produced many sites of varying size and complexity. Some were difficult, not because of the technology but because the organizational structure fell apart in the design and production process. The easiest ones to produce followed the process I mentioned above. Since I produced these for other people, the final product sometimes does not reflect my personal preferences in design, but I’ve tried to guide my clients toward a few basic principles.

  • Defining the purpose for the site and concretely designing the organizational structure is an essential first step.

  • Eye candy is also essential as a backdrop to the site content because people do judge books by their covers, but it should not overpower the content or slow down the tour of the site.

  • The site guest is paramount in site planning — anything that is a barrier to the positive experience of the site guest should be avoided.

  • Simple is better. The site should be easy to navigate, easy to glean information from, and not technically challenging for most browsers.

There is always something new to learn. I’m basically a visual desinger, but constantly search for technical information that will help me improve web-site presentation. However, the first thing I learned is still the best — the more thorough the planning stage, the easier and more precise the production stage.

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