If you want to create a good and solid website, you need a good and solid plan. It’s hard and you probably want to keep playing with your new website, but it’s time to take a break away from your computer and turn to pen and paper.
On a piece of paper, describe your site. Take five to twenty minutes to come up with a purpose for your site, or better yet, call it your Mission Statement.
Answer the following questions:
- What am I going to do with this?
- Who is going to read this?
- What kinds of information will I be posting?
- Why am I doing this?
- Who am I doing this for?
- How often am I going to be posting and adding information?
Now, compile this information into a paragraph so it looks like this:
This website will be dedicated to X, Y, and Z,
and cover the topics of A, B, and C. The audience will
be __________ ________________ _______. I will be adding
posts every _____________ about ________ _______ ______________.
I am doing this because _____________ _____________ __________________.
Using the Information Using the Information
From this exercise, we’ve gathered a lot of information. We’ve uncovered information on how you might layout and design your site. If you know your audience is mostly made up of young people under the age of 25, you will probably want a fashionable look ranging from wild colors and crazy graphics to dark foreboding tones. If you are providing factual information about a serious subject, then you will probably want a more conservative look where the information is more important than a lot of pop and flash.
You may already have a design idea in mind, or perhaps you will be copying over from your previous site, but take a moment to use this information to reconsider your design, and to see how what you want will work with the WordPress options.
You have also uncovered the possible categories for your site. The topics and subjects you will be covering are listed in your purpose statement. Let’s say your purpose statement said,
- “The website will be dedicated to providing news and information on computers, web pages, and the internet and cover the topics of computer tips, web page design, and internet news.”
Your topics are your categories. Write your categories down below your purpose paragraph and notes about your web page design.
Now, what subcategories might be under these topics? Under Computer Tips, you might want to segregate them by Windows, Linux, and Mac. Or maybe Software and Hardware. You can have sub-sub-categories, but let’s stop with subcategories for right now. Write these down.
Remember the question about why you are doing this? Is it because you have valuable and timely information or knowledge to share, because you want to talk about a subject that interests you, or maybe because you just think it will be fun to do.
Understanding the timeliness of the information you want to present on your site helps you organize the information on your website. Your website is organized by several different methods. If the date of when you posted the information is critical to the success of the page, then having links to your posts referenced by date is important. If the information itself is more important and timeless, then having your posts referenced by category is the best choice.
Have you noticed that you are starting to lay out your website? If you remember our earlier test drive of your new WordPress website, we examined the sidebar menu. This is the area where your past posts are organized. If you take another look, you will see the sidebar is laid out in a list, including Archives by date and Categories by category. It may even feature a calendar.
As you lay out your website on paper, consider whether you want both categories and dates, or just one of them in your sidebar. What information you have and how you want to help the user find the information is critical to your website design.
As you think about what information the user will need to know, you have to consider what information you are willing to share with them. That information may include how to contact you, what the purpose of the site is, who you are, and what your expertise is.
A WordPress feature called Pages makes the process of presenting this information easier. Pages, similar to posts, are most commonly used to present unchanging information such as About Us, Contact Us, Sign Up for Our Mailing List, and other static information. Before creating your individual Pages, you need to think about what information you would like the Page to hold. Write down the possible Page titles and describe the information you want to share on each Page.