Its like building a home, only in digital. You need research, design, blueprints, to think things through before you lay the foundation and build on it. Its quite essential to make a plan of the website and/or software application you want to build, otherwise, it will eventually come to disaster. Here are some areas where a plan really makes a difference for your next website build.
Construct a tree-list of your pages
Make a list in a parent-child format of the different content pages you need on the website. This can be the blueprint for your web development team to start building them out. Yes you can add and remove things from this list but one must be made to help everyone, even yourself as the website owner. Group your pages of content in a way that makes sense and is organic, for example :
- Garden design
- Garden maintenance
- Garden expansion
the sitemap above means that there are 7 pages on the website. You do not need to outline inner-content grouping here as it will be something that’s part of the content of the page and not a separate page itself.
Have your designers construct templates
Some of your pages might look alike in terms of layout, the homepage is going to be different than them along with the contact page et cetera. But the services pages might have a similar layout. Thinking in templates will help you be able to create new pages any time you want and also allow for the website to retain a solidity and flow, making it easy for the visitor to consume content and not have to get accustomed to ever-changing layouts.
For our example, there are three templates that we would create :
- one templated layout for the homepage
- one to use in each service content page
- one for the contact us page.
to make things even more simple, there is actually one re-usable template to create here, the one for the services page.
Think ahead and optimize
The mentality you need to have around this is that you should design ( architecturally ) things to be as minimal and as optimal as possible. When we design a database for instance in software development, this is the Canonicalization process that we follow. An example would be this : say that in the gardening website above, there is one small part of the content that is being shown the same throughout the website. One way to implement this is to just build it the same in every page, sort of like copying and pasting. But what happens if this needs to change at some point?
In this case, you would need to edit all the pages this is being shown on. So why not do it in a way that you can change it once? Implement it somewhere once and then load this on every page instead? This would allow you to minimize the time to edit along with many more good things.
This is just one example. There are quite more and the more experienced you become with software development and architecture, the easier it will be to spot and think about. But experience only comes from practice, so why not just start thinking like this from your next project?