plan-your-websiteAs we’ve mentioned in the past, we are working on a series of courses on the “Art Gush” site concerning the topic of “How to Start a Web Publication.” These courses are intended for those who have an interest in journalism as well as folks who want to promote their company, organization or themselves. In other words, the sequence of courses will be ready-made for those desiring to make a difference in their community.

Therefore this entry is going to be looking at the current online course in the publication sequence we are working on which is “How to Plan Your Website.” This topic is useful both if you are just starting out with a website or already have a website and are looking for ways to improve it.

One of the first things you should do when planning a website is to decide the format you are going to use. The two basic ones for those who don’t want to hassle with difficult-to-learn programs are “control panel” and “WordPress.” There are tons of control panel sites out there offered by many different companies. When choosng one you want to think in terms of ease of updating and if the aesthetic works for you. The other option is WordPress which is the best choice for those who are going to want to do a lot of updating of functions. You see, there are literally thousands of different kinds of plugins you can get that do different things.

Once you’ve decided on the format, the next thing you’re going to want to do is look at what menu items you are going to present. If you already have a site then you’ve done this, but might be interested in adding some new ones or delete those that are no longer relevant. Here are five that are classics: “About,” “Contact,” “Donate,” “Staff” and “Blog.” We’re not going to go into detail in this article about these menu items (we do more of that in the Art Gush course) but we will say that these are just a few that are possible.

For example, if you are a nonprofit you might use “Donate” since this is how you survive as an organization, whereas if you are a for-profit you might substite “Products” or “Services.”

In the end what you want to do is to put yourself into the position of your user and audience member and think in terms of what kind of information is useful to them and how you can you make it as easy as possible for them to access what they need.