1.7: Formal processes, common pitfalls
In The Web Style Guide, Chapters 1 and 2, you will read in great detail about the process for building large websites. The websites you build in this class will be much more modest in scope, and you have the advantage of having to please only one person, yourself.
I often say that this chapter from The Web Style Guide is really for the first time you’re asked by an employer to help build a website, or more likely, to help redesign and reconstruct a website.
As you read the chapter, though, try to see how the concepts apply to even the smallest website. These include:
A good team will produce a good website.
- The personnel needed to build a website. You will have to fulfill some or all of the positions the chapter describes on the web development team, such as project manager, tech and production leads and art director. But you also are the main project stakeholder; the No. 1 person you have to satisfy is yourself. Key concept: In the sidebar on web teams, the WSG authors outline how your content and technology strategies work in parallel as you progress from audience research through abstract planning to a concrete design.
- The need to set goals based on your audience. Even a simple personal website such as you will build for midterm needs to be planned with a sense of direction. The WSG authors recommend setting your top three goals, things you want to make happen with your site. I also recommend that you develop a concise mission statement along the guidelines on the next page. Key concept: Know what scope creep is and how to avoid it.
- The process of building a website. The WSG chapter covers just about every contingency that might crop up in building a site. For your own sites, you can benefit from defining the tasks you need to perform and in what order. Key concept: The temptation is to jump right in and start writing code and making visuals. The sidebar “A list of reminders,” is worth reading twice, especially the advice to do the visuals last.
- The common pitfalls. I mentioned scope creep above, as well as the tendency to dive in and start building without thinking through your design. The WSG authors offer one more bit of advice, and that is to avoid the “ready, fire, aim” syndrome. Key concept: Plan the work, work the plan.
- Useability. The method we will follow in this class of using HyperText Markup Language (HTML5) provides the key to flexible design. The best websites are tailored to the medium of the user with more than one Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). We also will insist on alternative text for visuals and other good useability practices. Key concept: The design cycle of requirements, design, development and testing will result in a well-built site and provide a way to maintain and improve your site.
Avoid the common mistake of “ready, fire, aim.”