When you begin work on a website, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. There are so many things to consider — audience, content, functionality, look and feel, who will maintain it — the list goes on.
A common mistake is to start with designing the page layouts, color scheme, graphics and typography. That's a bit like designing the sets and costumes for a theater production before selecting the play. Just as decisions about sets and costumes for the theater production are guided by the play, your audience and content will guide the decisions about website design and functionality.
It can help to break the process into four phases:
Phase 1: Think through what you have in mind and get approval for it.
Note: See Requesting a New Website for detailed steps.
- Get approval for the website's subject or task. For example, OAA must approve a new residency before requesting a website.
- Find out if what you have in mind already exists in some form in the college Web presence, or if it already is being planned.
- Think about your audience and what kind of content and functionality will meet your audience's needs. For detailed guidelines, see Analyzing Your Audience and the Website Planning Worksheet. Don't worry if you can't answer all the questions - just answer as many as you can.
- Identify the steward and site administrator for the new website. Work cannot begin until people are assigned to these roles.
- Submit a request for the site though the Office of Communications and Marketing (OCM) Request a Project, Project Initiation Form (log in required).
Phase 2: Work with OCM, ITS and other stakeholders to develop and approve your site.
- Continue to flesh out your audience analysis, content and/or functionality as needed. Under rare circumstances, it may be appropriate to work with an outside vendor.
- Work with OCM, ITS and other stakeholders to plan how your website will fit into the college website as a whole.
- Review existing websites within the college's main site to help think about applying the college's standard page layouts for your audience and content. In most cases, you'll find that the standard layouts will meet your needs. If they do not, discuss other options with OCM. OCM must approve in advance all alternatives to the standard designs.
- Work with OCM to develop your content and get it entered into the TerminalFour (t4) content management system. Most content will be text, but different types of media also may be appropriate.
- Complete all applicable content and technical reviews.
Phase 3: Make the site live.
Once all tests and intermediate reviews are complete, all corrections made and the site steward or designee has signed off on the final review, your site will be made live.
In the simplest terms, this means that it is published to the production Web server and links to your site are added to the college Web presence based on the integration plan for your site.
See the procedure on making a website live for complete details.
Phase 4: Maintain the site.
Maintaining the site means doing the work needed to make sure that all live content on a site is:
- relevant, accurate and current
- in accordance with applicable policies, standards, guidelines and best practices.