[thelist] building websites, instructions on

Austin Govella austin at desiremedia.com
Wed Nov 13 12:16:01 CST 2002

In the first chapter of Lynch and Horton's 'Web Style Guide', they go over
"Process", including suggested and possible deliverables:

- defining site goals, audience
- content inventory
- ia
- production checklists
- marketing, seo

You can get chapter 1 of their book online (you can get the entire book):

There was also a copy of the list of questions Vivid supposedly used to
develop sites in the book "The Elements of Web Design". It was awesome. I
copied it and have carried it around for years while working on refining
my own.

It's not online, but there is a decent article on their info design:

There are a couple of things I do that really help me get a handle on a

After I've determined the site's goals, the client's goals, and the
expected user's goals (all of which are different!), I define the website'
s user archetypes. An archetype is a generic kind of user you expect to
visit your website. For example Yahoo Mail can expect one of 3 kinds of

1. Users who are already registered and want to access their email.
2. Users who want to register.
3. Users who want to know more before they register.

(Archetypes are distinct from personas.)

Knowing you're expecting these three types of users helps you plan not
only what content you will *need* (as opposed to content you merely *want*

Secondly, it also tells you what navigation paths to make available
through your website.

The user archetypes help me flesh out my content inventory. Once I have
that, I like to make a cluster map that groups the types of content
together. For a commercial website, you might have several types of

About the company
Company mission
Company directory
Contact info
Company history
Products & services

Traditional nav would put a links to About Us, Products & Services,
Contact Us, etc. on the front page. But this is skewed. The individual
products would be the site's main content (assuming the most important
user archetype was someone looking to buy yard implements).

The other info is almost meta content, so it gets grouped separately in
the nav design. I'd end up with main content nav like so:
- lawnmowers
- rakes
- shovels
- edgers
- weed-whackers

And, meta content nav, like so:

- about us
- contact us

Now I know how to "chunk" my nav in the visual design. I used to just kind
of ferret through these issues mentally, but drawing them out really helps
me see relationships and opportunities it's easy to miss otherwise.

Plus you have nifty collateral that explains to the client not only why
you've done what you've done, but also the explicit assumptions you made.
If the client thinks your assumptions are off, its's easier to communicate
the corrections.

That's probably over my two cents worth, but I hope it's helpful. If I got
confusing and you need clarification, just holler.


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