1. Think it through
Seek out different people
and ask them some questions: Does the target audience have access
to computers and is this an acceptable method of communication?
Who will be responsible for the content and the ongoing technical
management of the site? What should the contents include? Do we
have the financial resources to do the work and keep the site updated?
Are there alternatives?
2. Decide on content
Begin by looking at what
your group is already doing: newsletters, brochures, posters, and
other mailers. Brainstorm what would be ideal: secure fundraising,
online surveys, live chat sessions, etc. Check out other the web
sites of groups who do similar work and those that are considered
cutting edge. Prioritize contents based on technical capabilities
3. Map out navigation
Plan the web site before
creating it, keeping it simple and consistent. Similar to an organization
chart, show how the relationship between screens, or pages, and
how they will be connected. Diagram the flow on paper.
This is also the time
to plan for how viewers will get around the site. Include a table
of contents so people can choose whatís most pertinent to them.
Provide place markersóa "you are here" signóthat shows
the path they have followed and an easy escape out to select another
topic. If a web site is going to contain a large number of pages,
get expert advice. This is a critical step to plan and keep organized.
4. Write for the medium
Web writing is more than
taking printed brochures and articles and putting them online. While
this material can be used, it should be adapted. Itís estimated
that only 10% of viewers will scroll beyond the first screen of
text, so break the text up and put a table of contents so viewers
can choose easily. This type of writing is referred to as "basic."
There are two other types
of web pages: splash and scripted. Splash writing is brief and concise.
A splash page offers readers choices to more in-depth material but
still communicates a message. Scripted writing is taking full advantage
of the medium, getting a reader to interact with the text and graphics
such as through a game. There are a minimal number of words on those
types of pages.
5. Design a look
Create a layout that
is consistent. This means use a style that is similar to existing
printed pieces and uses the same logo. It also means making sure
each page within the web site looks alike: same background color,
navigation links always in the same place, and contact information
(name, address, phone, email address). Keep in mind that viewers
may not sequentially go through your site. Every page needs to be
a stand-alone from the whole.
6. Make it visual
Capitalize on the medium
by making use of icons and images. Donít assume icons will be intuitively
understood; provide a label or pop-up window description. Photographs
and images need captions. Just as with print, however, make sure
photographs, maps and drawings strengthen the content and are not
just for decoration making a file too large.
Because images and special
effects such as animations use a lot of memory, use them sparingly.
If a screen takes too long to download due to large files, many
people wonít wait to see it. A good rule of thumb is to design for
the slowest system; that means dial-up modems as opposed to cable
modems or DSL.
Be sure to also do research
on "web colors." Certain colors work better than others
on computer monitors, or video display systems. Try and avoid deeply
saturated primary colors (red, green, blue); they are prone to smearing
or bleeding, making the image difficult to see.
7. Build it and test
Bring the elements together
using a web page software program. Then once the graphics, text,
and links are combined, test the site. Make sure every link works
and every image appears. Also have someone who was not involved
in the writing proof the text for typos, flow, and accuracy.
8. Post it
Follow the instructions
according to the web software, the host serverís protocol, or the
advice of a technician. Be sure to consider protection measures
and submitting the site to search engines. Then let folks know about
it. Issue a press release and write an article for a newsletter,
and add the web site address to business cards, brochures, and other