Here are eight keys to building a class or school web site that is relevant, enticing, and easy to use:
- Define the audience. Who is the site’s intended audience? Does this audience have any unique characteristics (age, socioeconomic background, etc.) that will affect the type of information the site should provide or the format for how this information is presented?
- Set goals. What information is the site trying to convey? What depth of information is appropriate for the intended audience?
- Plan the site’s design. Arrangement of topics and subtopics is crucial. Write a detailed outline of what will go on each page, and make sure it meets with the goals you’ve identified.
- Choose a good web authoring tool. Select a tool that provides sufficient capabilities to present information in the formats you have chosen.
- Provide for clear navigation. Pages and links should flow logically from one topic to another and from general to specific information. Written outlines and index cards are useful ways to organize information so you can conceptualize the site’s navigation before actually uploading information. Some people recommend using pre-built templates to ease this task, while others recommend building to fit your precise needs.
- Choose compelling design elements. The key is to create a site that is simple, unified, and balanced. In other words, images and fonts and design elements should work together to support the information being presented, not confuse the user.
- Consider the user’s experience. The design of each web page is important, especially the home page. Be alert to how much of the home page a reader actually can see on the screen at one time. Put the most important information where it can be seen most easily. It’s helpful to set up “zones” of information on a home page, so readers quickly can understand what types of information are available.
- Add relevant graphics. Graphics are an integral element of most web pages. Graphics can be obtained in many formats; the two most popular are GIF and JPEG. As a general rule, GIF files are adequate for simpler images with a few basic colors.