I’ve been asked, “How do I design a successful website?”
I often reply, “Do you know the fastest way to spoil a new website design?” As you might suspect, the answer is: ‘no proper planning in advance.’
Let’s put it another way. In programming, there is an old axiom that says, “The earlier you start programming, the longer it takes to finish.”
Planning your website before building it is essential. To borrow a technique from filmmaking, I recommend creating a storyboard, which is a kind of flowchart for your new website design. You don’t have to be an accomplished artist to develop an idea, but you do need to create it on paper first.
On each sheet of paper, the goal is to provide space for the image at the top, as well as space below for writing information. As you might think, the first page you should start with is the home page (or welcome page), which will generally contain the most information, as it will contain the page that people visit before they enter your site and while people visit your site. The site will find more information (in levels) as they go down.
Usually the home page links to 5 to 15 pages below, which we might call level 2. Each of these pages links to 5 to 15 other pages, which you can call level 3.
If you use all of these pages, you will end up designing a long website, no fewer than 226 pages (including the home page).
During this process all kinds of problems will arise. But solving it on paper is a lot easier than solving it in the middle of the coding rather than finishing it … If you don’t, you may encounter a major problem in the future that requires “Return to the Drawing Board” for a complete redesign of the site.
Solving things on paper will give you a much better idea of how things work and how to fix problems. And if you have knowledgeable friends, get a second opinion. Once the process is done on paper and you or your web designer are satisfied with the results, you are ready to translate them into code.