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Web Style Guide

Information architecture

At this stage you need to detail the content and organization of the Web site. The team should inventory all existing content, describe what new content is required, and define the organizational structure of the site. Once a content architecture has been sketched out, you should build small prototypes of parts of the site to test what it feels like to move around within the design. Site prototypes are useful for two reasons. First, they are the best way to test site navigation and develop the user interface. The prototypes should incorporate enough pages to assess accurately what it's like to move from menus to content pages. Second, creating a prototype allows the graphic designers to develop relations between how the site looks and how the navigation interface supports the information design. The key to good prototyping is flexibility early on: the site prototypes should not be so complex or elaborate that the team becomes too invested in one design at the expense of exploring better alternatives.

Typical results or contract deliverables at the end of this stage could include:

  • Detailed site design specification
  • Detailed description of site content
  • Site maps, thumbnails, outlines, table of contents
  • Detailed technical support specification
  • Browser technology supported
  • Connection speed supported
  • Web server and server resources
  • Proposals to create programming or technology to support specific features of the site
  • A schedule for implementing the site design and construction
  • One or more site prototypes of multiple pages
  • Multiple graphic design and interface design sketches or roughs