Before you decide to build a website some thought should be given to why you want to build a website. What is the business purpose, will a website accomplish this purpose? Don't expect people to come just because you build it.

To build a website that is both functional and useful requires a lot of thought and above all a focus on what the user of the website really needs. This is not necessarily the same things as what the user says that they need because often they don't know or don't articulate what they need.

The next step is to meet both the users' needs while meeting the business purpose. A specification document should be created with use cases and the exact features that will be in the website. From here you can go about designing the website.

The information should be categorized into a hierarchy of groups of information. A good number of groups is in the range of 5-9. People can grasp and remember 5-9 groups before it becomes unmanageable. You can put the same information into multiple groups if it makes sense to do so. You can have multiple levels in your hierarchy by doing this.

It is important to make your site similar to what the user expects a website to be like. The more similar it is the less they will have to learn to use the website. You still can be creative with your colors and content but the overall structure should feel familiar. For example, users expect the log in functionality to be in the upper left corner. There is normally navigation links along the top and/or the left hand side of the page.

One of the more important things to remember is to keep as much information as possible above the fold. The fold is where the user can see without scrolling down. This will vary based on the users screen size and settings.


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