Steps to Take in Coming Up with an Architecture for Your Website

 

  1. Finding out what the mission or purpose of the website is: why will people come to your site?
  2. Determining the immediate and long-range goals of the site: are they different?
  3. Pinpointing the intended audiences and conducting a requirements analysis for each group.
  4. Collecting site content and developing a content inventory.
  5. Determining the website’s organizational structure, which can include:
    • hierarchical
    • narrow and deep
    • broad and shallow
    • sequential
  6. Creating an outline of the site, which can include:
    • Content Outline: a hierarchical view of the site content, typically in a spreadsheet format, which briefly describes the content that should appear on each page and indicates where pages belong in terms of global and local navigation.
    • Site Maps: visual diagrams that reflect site navigation and main content areas. They are usually constructed to look like flowcharts and show how users will navigate from one section to another. Other formats may also indicate the relationships between pages on the site.
  7. Creating a visual blueprint of the site, which can include:
    • Wireframes: rough illustrations of page content and structure, which may also indicate how users will interact with the website. These diagrams get handed off to a visual designer, who will establish page layout and visual design. Wireframes are useful for communicating early design ideas and inform the designer and the client of exactly what information, links, content, promotional space, and navigation will be on every page of the site. Wireframes may illustrate design priorities in cases where various types of information appear to be competing.
  8. Defining the navigation systems:
    • Global navigation: Global navigation is the primary means of navigation through a website. Global navigation links appear on every page of the site, typically as a menu located at the top of each web page.
    • Local navigation: Local links may appear as text links within the content of a page or as a sub menu for a section of the website. Local navigation generally appears in the left-hand margin of a web page and sometimes is placed below the global navigation.
    • Utility links: Utility links appear in the header or footer of every page. These may include infrequently used links such as: Contact Us, About Us, Customer Support, Customer Feedback, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, Site Map, Press Room, etc. Search boxes often appear in the header of the site as well, so the Search feature is available on every page of the site.