Develop Website Content

by Jason Vaughn

This lesson is designed to help you develop and gather content for a Web site. In this lesson, you will learn about content and how to organize it as well as what questions to ask your client.

Web site content and structure

Determine your menu and content for your site by deciding what service, product or type of site your client is needing. Some clients have no idea what they want, it's up to the designer to help the client understand the types of Web sites there are and how to get started.

Clients you're working with usually have a better understanding of their business than you do. You will need your client to provide as much information about what they do as possible -- have them provide samples of brochures, business cards, newspaper ads, yellow page ads or anything else you can think of that will help you design and structure their site.

At this point, you may need to hire a copywriter to produce text for the site. If the client does not have this in their budget, then have the client provide text for you based on your guidelines. Some clients already have an idea of what they want. Use what they have and enhance it when necessary.

The following are types of questions and information to get from your client. These questions will help you in the design process and better enable you to build a site map.

Questions to ask

Purpose of Web site:
Ask your client what they plan to do with the site. In other words, are they selling a product like nuts and bolts or is this more of an information site, like a brochure.

Who's the target audience? Who's most likely to visit this site? What age group are you targeting?

Type of Web site:
Make sure your client understands the types of sites that are out there. Help the client determine what they need, based on the "Purpose" of their site. Will this site be a portal, promotional, ecommerce, or a content site? It's up to you to educate your client so they can better understand what you are talking about.

Page links and page content:
Once you have a basic understanding of what the client's needs are, then it's time to determine links, content and how many pages the site will be. Each link will have to have content based on the information you gathered from the client.

For example, the home page of the Web site will have the majority of the links. It's always best to start off with the "Home" page first and then follow with other pages.

For each page, you may want to add separate sheets of paper and write down the links they may have. Some site's "secondary pages" have links to other pages within the site. Later, you'll transfer this to a site map for a visual layout and structure of the site.

Remember that you don't have to use these link names. Be creative with your link names, but keep them clear and understandable to your visitor.

Suggested links for the "Home" page

Company (about us):
Discuss company information. Tell how the company got started and how long they have been in business. Possibly list awards and business partner relationships.

Information on how clients can contact you. Make sure to include email, phone, etc.

List what the company does, what services are offered, and possibly include a pricing section.

Product or project showcase:
Have a showcase for the client to display their projects. Whether it's art or construction, an area for displaying projects is essential.

Secondary page links "Product Page":
Let's say this site is a hardware store. For this example, you will have three links to three different product pages.

• Nuts and Bolts

• Tools

• Wood

Now for each product, you'll need to consult your client and have information provided to you on each of these areas.

Technical support questions

You will need to find out who your client is using for a hosting provider. You may want to offer them a great hosting plan yourself or guide them to a company to get hosting services. Keep in mind that most clients are coming to you for full service. Most clients don't understand how the Internet works, they just want their Web site to work. Research hosting plans and come up with a list of ways to make money for yourself or find an easy way for clients to handle it.

Hosting (service provider)
Who's the client's hosting company. Discuss plans and costs for services needed.

FTP (file transfer protocol)
Get your server information from the service provider providing the hosting service, including username and password to access the site upload area.

Domain name
Find out if your client already has a domain name. You will need to get that account information to forward any domains to a new server location.

Think of keywords that you want the search engines to be able to search for. For example, use words like: tools, nuts, bolts, wood, and hardware. These keywords will help you set up the Meta Tag section of the site, which enables search engines to locate the page.

Overall, this lesson will help you determine the client's needs. After asking these questions and getting all the necessary information, it's time to put it all together and create a site map. Once this is done, get with your client to approve copy and site structure. After that approval process is done, then move onto design.

Article posted with permission from:
Art Space Design