The internet is the one place where different people, using different software, on different platforms, can all receive the same information. With ongoing breakthroughs in technology, HTML (the language of the web) has evolved. This has created a richer, more robust environment for the designer. However, many aspects have to be considered before the first magical line of code is ever entered:
  • The viewer has to be targeted.
  • A profile of the targeted viewer has to be created.
  • A plan for reaching the targeted viewer has to be considered.
With this information, the web site development process takes its directions, as to:
  • Architecture
  • HTML dialect vs. user system compatibility
  • Expected attention span vs. bandwidth
  • Handicap accessibility
  • Age group appeal
  • Web site promotional plans

These directions will be the guidelines, used to construct the proper code for the web pages. Web pages that will be attractive, appealing, and most important, clearly rendered by the viewers internet equipment.

The architecture of the site refers to the way the information is going to be presented. That is, the way the pages are going to be arranged so the information can be logically and effortlessly extracted from your site.

The architectural layout of the site will dictate the level of HTML coding that will be employed. Newer versions of HTML will allow the designer to create more interesting pages, but will limit the amount of viewers to those with newer software on their systems. The statistical information on the targeted viewer will aid in the choice of HTML dialect that will work with the basic architecture of the site.

To maximize exposure, different versions of the same site can be combined to accommodate a larger viewing audience. For example, there are four versions of this site to accommodate:

  • Visitors with browsers that read text only
  • Visitors with text-to-speech or text-to-braille readers whose software needs a special page layout to function without confusion.
  • Visitors who have non-frames capable browsers or who prefer non-frames layout
  • Visitors who respond to the high tech look and navigation ease of a well designed framed site

The expected age group of the target audience is going to influence the design elements of the site. There is a concept referred to as "young eyes" that is a very important factor as to the success of a site. "Young eyes" refers to the accepted logic that younger viewers (perhaps under the age of 35-40) respond to brighter colors, embedded music, animated graphics, smaller text, and generally have a longer attention span allowing a longer download-time budget.

Conversely, older visitors respond favorably to more conservative color combinations with sharper contrast and larger, easy to read text. Their attention span is shorter, requiring faster download times through smaller packs of information. This visitor is looking more for information than entertainment. The success of the site is based on designing to the preferences and needs of the visitor.

Another success factor that must be considered is promotion. The greatest web site in the world will not produce any revenue if people do not know it’s there. Search engines are important, but statistically 80% of all internet sales originate OFF THE NET. This points out the need to cross promote the site to develop the traffic necessary for success. Some methods include cross linking with web sites that have related themes, building bookmarkable features into your site to promote return visits, and off-the-net cross promotion through traditional media.

With these points in mind, the ground work for your site is laid out, now ready to be embellished with compelling text and the visual impact of graphics.