1. define the site’s goals

It sounds obvious, but if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, why bother building a site? Also, you want everyone who has a stake in the site to agree on the content and purpose. Defining a site’s goals solves all of these problems.

2. define the audience

You need to know who your website is aimed at. Sounds obvious, but if you don’t know who you are designing for, how can you get a good result? When you sit down and think about it, it’s likely to be a number of different people with completely different motives (ie investors, clients, customers).

3. create the structure

What pieces of content does the site need? What sorts of functionality will be required? Think of it this way: If you want to build a spaceship out of Lego, you need to pick out all of the pieces you will be using. These pieces represent the content. If you want your Lego to do things, you need to choose which motors and processors you need. These pieces represent the functionality.

4. define the navigation

The site’s structure is the foundation on which you build everything else. After creating a good site structure, everything else will fall into place. A well-designed structure makes it easy to define a navigation system, and the two together make designing page layouts and templates easy.

5. look and feel

The visual design, is perhaps the most satisfying aspect of site design, my favourite bit! One of its main purposes is to provide users with a sense of place. It will give them a feeling of who you are, by how it looks, for instance, open and friendly, fun and human — reflecting your brand values of who you are. As far as navigation goes, they need to know where they are on the site, where they have been, and how to get to where they want to be – to be in control of navigating the site. A good site structure combined with an effective visual design enables users to construct a mental map of the site.


There used to be a ten-second rule – keep your overall page size small, that way you won’t lose visitors who just want to skip the intro, with all the bandwidth we have now, it’s only an issue if your clients are in far-flung corners of the world…