It didn’t take long for the commercial Web’s pioneers to learn that the slogan “If you build it, they will come“ was a hollow joke: You have to build it well, thoughtfully and ambitiously and inventively, and then you have to keep rethinking it and rebuilding it, if you have any hope of attracting a crowd.
—Scott Rosenberg, Salon.com
The first step in designing any web site is to define your goals. Without a clearly stated mission and objectives, the project will drift, bog down, or continue past an appropriate endpoint. Careful planning and a clear purpose are the keys to success in building web sites, particularly when you are working as part of a development team.
Planning a web site is a two-part process: first you gather your development team, analyze your needs and goals, and work through the development process outlined here to refine your plans. Next you create a project charter document that details what you intend to do and why, what technology and content you’ll need, how long the process will take, what you will spend to do it, and how you will assess the results of your efforts. The project charter document is crucial to creating a successful site: it is both the blueprint for your process and the touchstone you’ll use to keep the project focused on the agreed-on goals and deliverables.