Mastering Successful Web Site Planning

A Top 10+1 List
contributed by Justin Garrity

Justin Garrity is the Creative Director at PopArt Inc. ( and past creative director of an educational online software development group. His portfolio overflows with Web development success, and there's a reason his job titles always seem to include words like creative and director. He's one of those multitalented types who is creative, technologically savvy, a great manager who naturally motivates and leads, always gets the job done, and genuinely cares.

Lucky for you, Justin tapped into his professional and educational background to pull together the following tips for successfully planning a Web site:

checkbox Content is Everything.  Think of a Web site like a book or a magazine, without a story, the cover and layout do not add up to much.
checkbox Capture Key Use Cases.  Think of the types of visitors who will visit your Web site and write down tasks that each type would probably try to accomplish.  As you create your Web site, refer back to these use cases.
checkbox Create a Site Map.  Organize the pages of your site like you organize files on your computer, by page type. Make sure you think about how your site will probably grow over time and organize for that growth.
checkbox Build a Text Only Version First.  Before messing around with the design, imagery, animation, or font styles, build a simple plain text only version of the site first.  This will help you focus on the content and how the site “reads”.  Do not get distracted with visual design until the text on the site is ready.
checkbox Simplify the Language.  Do not say things like, “Click here to read more about turtles”, just say the subject matter of the link, “Turtles”
checkbox The Menu Should Mirror the Site Map.  The main menu of the site should reflect the highest level of folders/pages on the site map.
checkbox Embedded Links Should Follow the Use Cases.  While the menu follows the site structure, the embedded links within the content of each page should follow the use cases.
checkbox Tables Are for Tables, Not for Layout.  Use CSS for layout.  Stay away from using invisible tables to arrange the elements on the page.  Using CSS reduces file size and centralizes all of the layout information about the Web site.
checkbox Each Page Is a Table of Contents.  Each page is a way to get to another page.  Prevent each page from becoming a dead end.
checkbox Have a Message. Your photo should quickly convey information about your Web site or the particular page it's on.
checkbox Content is Everything.  Wait, did I already say that?  It is true.  Focus on the content and everything else is just frosting.