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Build a Website for Free: Planning Your Site

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This chapter asks questions you should consider when planning your website's structure. Answering as many as you can will help you make important decisions about your site.
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The central question you need to answer before beginning any website project is "Why do you want to build a website?" Sometimes the answer can be simple—the boss wants you to create a site, you want to connect to old school friends, or you want to promote your home-based business. By asking the question, you can begin to figure out the best structure for the site you are building. For example, if you are making a website for your home based-business, you want your products and services on pages by themselves. You should also make sure the business contact information is on every page.

What follows in this section are some questions you should ask when planning your website's structure. You should try to answer as many of them as you can because they will help you make important decisions about your site. Don't just read the questions and think about the answers; make notes and develop a formal plan. If you are building this site for someone else, that person probably wants to see your plan of action. This plan of action would include listing the website's goals, the rough plans for the site and the pages, and a timeline of when you plan to complete the work.

What Type of Site Do You Want to Build?

As we all know, there are so many websites on the Internet that it is impossible to keep track of all of them. We use websites to book plane reservations, talk to friends, and catch up on the scores of last night's games. When you're thinking about why you are creating a website, you also need to figure out what kind of site it will be. The best way to familiarize yourself with types of websites is to look around on the web. Typically you go to the web with a particular objective in mind, such as renting a car or sending an email. This purpose sometimes causes you to overlook the structure and purpose of the sites you are viewing. Take another look at some of your favorite websites, and pay close attention to the structure and purpose of these sites. You'll be surprised by what you learn.

Types of Sites

New types of websites show up every day and are limited only by the imagination of the people creating them. Listed here are a few high-level types. If your website fits into one of these categories, read the listing and go to the example sites, paying close attention to the structure and design of each website.

  • Business— In the early days of the web, there was a virtual gold rush of companies and corporations to the web thinking they could make a fortune overnight. This, of course, happened to only a few, but slowly over the past decade, businesses have begun to figure out how to make money, attract new customers, and find working business models. In fact, these days it is almost impossible to think of a business that doesn't have a website, from huge corporations to the mom-and-pop web shop down the street.Examples:
  • Personal— Before business invaded the World Wide Web, people were creating personal websites. These included family websites, fan sites, and journal sites such as blogs. This is really part of the World Wide Web's greatest cultural effects. Everyone can now have a voice on the web. You don't have to have a million dollars to have a great website that attracts lots of attention. From the rich and famous to the mom down the street, folks are making personal websites.Examples:
  • Social— Ever since computers have become connected to one another, they have become tools for social interactions. They make it simple for people to talk to each other online through social networking sites and email sites. The web is becoming more social every day. No longer is the Internet solely the refuge of geeks, but now just about everyone is making social connections one of the most dominant forces on the web.Examples:
  • Informational— The Internet is a storehouse of information. Some sites exist purely to give you free information. This information is so incredibly helpful that it is changing knowledge and education on a daily basis. The web has terabytes of information added it to every day—so much that you can never keep up on it all.Examples:
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