Original Content

Plan Before You Code a Website

Plan I report Licensed under a Creative Commons License from www.nesta.org.uk

When working on a new website it is so easy to want to jump right in and start coding, or at least start storyboarding. I have been working on a new website with the marketing department at my university, and before we could start any work they asked me to first define my audience.

Once I clearly articulated who I was trying to reach I was asked to provide information for specific pages. As a team we decided to include the following pages:

  • Landing Page
  • Supplemental Pages
    • About
    • Resources
    • Events
    • Contact us
    • Event Slider
    • Calendar

Then, I was asked to identify the sub-groups of my broadly defined audience that each page should target. We only started writing once each page had a specified population. The words used for each page needed to align with both the broad audience and the targeted sub-group.

The process of planning a website before creating the website has been a great learning experience. I have been forced to articulate my goals and specify end users. I’ve been more thoughtful about this project than I have been in previous instances when many decisions were left up to me. Our marketing team has been an amazing resource and I hope to apply their thinking to future projects.

Does anyone else ever feel like they need a public relations training to be a librarian?

Also, I’d love to hear any advice you have for me as I plan websites.