Defining your Website

Before your website design can begin, you need to make sure that you know what pages and links are required to begin with. In addition, you need to make sure that you know what functionality must be built and what special processing must be included.

We will cover standard or common website links that are generally included in websites as well as other pages and links to consider.

What is a Website Definition?

This is our wording or term for a document that:

  • Lists the various areas of the site including links, pages, sections (if applicable), etc
  • Provides an idea on the website ‘flow” i.e. how a visitor gets to pages
  • Provides a breakdown on functionality to be included e.g. an administration area is developed, what will the client be able to do via this administration area

Why do I need a Website Definition?

There are no rules saying you MUST have a website definition in place, but if you plan on paying a company to develop your website, you want to make sure:

  1. You have gotten what you paid for when the project is declared “complete”
  2. Both parties understand what the expectations are and what needs to be delivered

We have had a number of companies come to us due to expectations and promises not being met. Having a clear website definition in place can help everyone involved and is perfect for testing purposes towards completion of the website.

Who should do the Website Definition?

This is an interesting one. We’ve had clients develop their own website definitions and over a meeting or discussion, we finalize and adjust the definition where necessary.

If no definition is provided, then specifically in projects where a database requirement needs to be developed, we setup a website definitions document so we know we understand the requirement and the client knows what they will have upon website completion.

Website Links and Flow

Every website is different, but at the same time, many websites are similar. Your website “flow” should be clear and visitors should not have to click more than 3 links to get to where they want to be.

This is a MAMMOTH RULE and a rule we explain to almost each and every client. The more a user has to click and wait, the greater the possibility of losing the visitor to another website.

What links are a MUST?

Home

Every website needs a home page. Your home page is where you get the opportunity of:

  • Convincing the visitor that they are at the right website
  • Grabbing the interest of the visitor with special features, bargains, sales or even information that is important or valuable to them
  • Making an impression

Contact Page

Most people when surfing the web, look for a contact page. Your contact page would typically contain the following:

  • Contact Numbers – phone, fax, mobile (if applicable)
  • Email Address(es) – sales, enquiries, admin, etc
  • Contact form – allow the user to contact you there and then from your website

Some websites don’t have a contact page. If you don’t want a contact page, make sure you have your contact information (phone numbers and an email address) clearly available on EVERY page.

About Us / Services

You need to give credibility and providing more information on your company and / or your services usually assists visitors is deciding whether you “know what you’re doing”. You can have 2 separate pages i.e. one page on About the company and a Services page that provides a breakdown of your services or alternatively, choose the link that suits you best.

For the About Us page, you can include the following information:

  • When the company began
  • Who are the main parties involved in the company
  • Your company motto or goal

For your Services page, you can include the following information:

  • Breakdown and explanation of services that your company offers
  • Why use your company

What other links could I have?

The beauty of a website is that you can have as many pages as you want. Sometimes, less is more, but when your subject matter is broad, you may need to consider what information needs to be included that your visitor will find useful.

Other links to consider including are:

  • Portfolio
  • Latest News
  • Products
  • Specials
  • How it works?
  • Why Us?
  • Gallery
  • Sitemap (we like this page – it’s valuable and useful, but some companies don’t like to include it)
  • Blog (links to a blog – see blogging article for more information on blogs)
  • Directions (could also form part of your contact page)
  • Service specific pages (breaking up your core services into pages of their own – so in our case it would be web design, web development, database development, seo etc)

** Some of the above mentioned links would not be applicable or suitable for your website. You will need to use your discretion when choosing your website links. **

What functionality is a MUST?

This is completely up to you and what you:

  • Want your visitor to be able to do
  • Want to be able to do/manage on your website

Functionality you may want included in your website may include:

  • The ability to update a gallery
  • The ability to have users be able to login and view “protected information”
  • The ability to update text on your pages like (see content management system)
  • The ability for a user to sign up for your newsletter
  • A search facility

Functionality is very much based on your subject matter and is ultimately up to you, the website owner. Complex functionality will need to be discussed and documented with both you and the web agency to ensure the functionality requirements are clearly understood by both parties.

Certain functionality included in websites will dictate the hosting required for a website (see choosing you hosting company). For example: if a database is required, then you will need to be hosted at a company that supports the appropriate database and can support the appropriate scripting language e.g. ASP, PHP, etc.

What else is there to think about?

One particular thing of importance is the future of the project and whether you know that you would like to expand the website as the business / concept grows.

There are 2 ways that you can do this:

  • Rebuild your website when your website needs an additional 20 links added on the home page
  • Make sure your website is designed and built with flexibility in mind and that additional links can be incorporated easily.

Summary

You are paying for your website to be developed PROPERLY. You need to make sure that you and the web agency are clear on requirements and expectations to ensure the project runs as smoothly as possible.
MAKE SURE that if you plan on adding significantly onto the website in the future, that your Web Agency is aware of this and designs accordingly, Left Navigation, tree like menus and drop down menus are great in assisting with these kinds of scenarios.