Sunday, August 17, 2008

Planning out a web site

The early stages of planning a website ...

"... You need to plan out the site you’re building

You’ll come upon the odd web project that you can just dive right into without any up front thought, but these are, by far, the exception and not the norm. We’re going to take a look at a fictional band called “The Dung Beatles” and try to help them work through the early stages of planning out their web site. We’ll talk with the band and find out what goals they have, and what they would like to see on their web site. Then we’ll dive in and start working on a structure for the band’s information.
Introducing “The Dung Beatles”

The Dung Beatles (TDB) have a problem. They are the hottest Beatles tribute band in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, but they need to raise their profile for an upcoming North American tour this summer. They’ve got venues scheduled throughout Canada and the United States, but they’re virtually unknown outside of their hometown. If only there was some way, using technology, to reach a large number of Beatles fans for relatively little money.

Lucky for TDB, we’ve got this thing called the World Wide Web, and they quickly decide that building a web site is the answer they’ve been searching for. TDB needs a place to promote their tour dates, build a fan base in other cities and raise awareness of the band. You’re going to work through their ideas with them and see if you can chart out a plan for their web site.

You schedule a meeting with your new clients to hash out the details of what they’re looking for and to decide on due dates and costs. You open the conversation by suggesting that you talk about the goals and objectives of the web site in order to get an idea of what they want. What does the band hope to achieve with their online presence?

TDB starts talking about their upcoming tour, and how they want to get the word out to Beatles fans in all of their scheduled stops. It’s February now, and they’re scheduled to kick off their tour in five months time.

Hang on a second! A web site alone won’t build it’s own traffic and publicise itself. You extract from the conversation thus far that the main goal for the site is to provide a home for TDB fans online; a place where they can keep up to date on the latest news, tour dates and venues. Through the fans (word of mouth), and some other advertising venues, new people will be driven to the web site where they can download sample tracks, check out pictures of the band (in full costume) and find out where/when they can check them out live.

Raul McCoffee, the front man of the group, points out that it would be nice to be able to raise a little extra money for the tour through the sale of some CDs and band merchandise. You gather the band around and draw out a quick sketch of what a visitor might want when they visit the web site. This is just a really rough brainstorm of ideas; it’s got very little structure at this point.

There are two general groups of people who will visit the site—people who know TDB already and like them (fans), and people who are unsure. You’ve got to cater to both those groups in different ways; potential fans need to be “sold” on the group, whereas current fans want to “feed their addiction” (so to speak). What sort of information is each of these groups going to be looking for? Figure 1 gives an indication of this—this is a typical sketch of the type that you’ll want to make at this point in future web site projects. From this, you’ll work out what pages the web site needs, and how they should link to one another.

You settle on a budget, and agree to launch the web site in one month. You promise to get back to the band in a couple of days with some plans outlining the direction you’re going in."    (Continued via Opera Developer Community, Jonathan Lane)    [Usability Resources]

Visitor Wants - Usability, User Interface Design

Visitor Wants

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