Website design project plan marin sonoma

The FAQs of Website Dedesign

As a website developer I find myself answering similar questions on my first meeting with nearly every client:   What are the components?  How will we tackle this project? What else is involved? What do these words mean?

Site design, architecture, content, platform, hosting, SEO strategy, social media strategy and development are all critical.  If they could talk, each of them would be as determined and as demanding as a vociferous 3 year-old “But I am the most important factor! Nothing else would work or be worthwhile without me! Spend your time and money on me, Me, ME!” Just like dealing with 3 year-olds, we need to consider and pay attention to each of them, but we also need to take our own decisions based on the overall priorities and goals of the project.

Site Design:

The look and the feel: color palette, fonts and layout. the width of the site, colors of the background, the height of the header, the width of the sidebar, the borders of the pictures, the layout of the menu,. Hopefully you will LOVE the design of your site, and feel that it is a strong visual representation of your brand and message.

If you were building a house, the design would be the cohesion of the external appearance – the style of the building and the choice of finishes, interior and exterior, the flooring, cabinetry, drapes etc


Site Architecture – shown through the Site Map

The list of pages that you plan to put into the site, and how they fit under the menu tabs.

For a building, the list of rooms and the function of each room.




The text and pictures that you intend to put into each page. Hopefully, your content will be planned to blend in well with your design.

Like furniture and personal possessions – the content of a room can change as often as you want.


The technology that is to use to build your site. Each of these terms describe a platform: HTML, WordPress, Joomla, Hosted etc…

Choosing a platform is like choosing one building method over another – there is no universal right or wrong, but there is a right choice for your needs:  wood frame, steel frame, high rise, bungalow, office building, below ground, above ground… As a website owner,  ask enough questions of your web developer to feel confident of the platform they are advising you to build on.


Where you are going to place your site after it is built – the code alone is just a pile of code. It needs a server that will be up 24/7.

The plot of land where your building sits.

SEO Strategy

Search Engine Optimization. Work done to and about your site to push it towards the holy grail of a Page One Google Ranking.

Onsite SEO – work done on your site to make sure that the words people search on are well represented on your site.

Offsite SEO – Links from other sites to your site.

Here are some of the most important points about SEO

1. Google uses about 200 factors in ranking a page.

2. There is no silver bullet – there is no ‘one thing’ anyone can do to improve your sites SEO but many steps, all working together.

3. SEO includes everything you can control on your site, some things you can impact off your site  and a lot that you cannot control off your site.

For a commercial building: the signage in the building explaining every room, the signage outside explaining the purpose and the links in directories and maps to help you get there. Print, Radio and TV Ads that you pay for to bring people in.

Social Media Strategy

How you plan to promote your site through Blogging, Facebook, Twitter et al.

For a company in a building – getting your company promoted through business networks, chamber of commerce, conferences, print articles, radio and TV coverage.

Site Development:

Once you and your web developer have decided on the Design, Site Map, Platform, Content, Hosting and SEO strategy, they can go off into their own tech world and build your site, already.

In building construction, this is the time that the contractors move in with their team.

14 replies
  1. Louise Edington
    Louise Edington says:

    I love the anaoly too. I have just had mine redone and it took a lot more thinking about than I ever imagined! I wish I had had this analogy then as I’m still not sure I got what I really wanted….
    Louise Edington
    Breaking Through Online Frontiers

  2. Jennifer Peek
    Jennifer Peek says:

    This is a great outline for all that is involved.  The analogy to a house made so much sense to me – and reinforced how much work is involved in the initial creation as well as in what goes into the longer term maintenance, upkeep and potential remodeling.  

  3. Brandy Mychals
    Brandy Mychals says:

    Great breakdown of the basics to starting your website… and then the many tiny details that come under each category create endless fun! I love information that helps people get started 🙂

  4. Candace Davenport
    Candace Davenport says:

    Love the analogy to the building. Made a whole lot of sense. And I also loved the fact that even though I have a website, I may be living in a hovel which needs to be rebuilt using the newest and latest building supplies! Thanks for this.

    Candace Davenport ~ Little Books with a Big Message

  5. Robbie Schlosser
    Robbie Schlosser says:

    Hi, Abigail,
    Thanks for describing all the components of constructing a website. It’s enlightening to understand so clearly how all the components fit together, and your analogy to constructing a building is very helpful. Since 1995, I’ve been building, fiddling, and tinkering with my own website, and whenever a pro examines it, I learn again it can always be better. The lesson for me usually is “less is more”, a phrase popularized by architects in the mid 20th century. Like you say, it’s like building a building.

  6. Kathy Long
    Kathy Long says:

    I’m a web developer too and you’ve hit upon one of my soap boxes and that is you need it all! Like I say, “Pretty can get you a wink, but not necessarily a relationship.” I’m so glad to find another web developer who gets it! I’m sure your customers appreciate you.

  7. Maureena Bivins, PhD
    Maureena Bivins, PhD says:

    I worked closely with my website designer and it was a great experience. In fact, I had her sample some of the services offered at my place of business so that she and I could build from that. Your presentation of the steps involved are very helpful and gave me some things to reconsider about one of my sites.

    Maureena Bivins. PhD
    Acupuncture & Somatic Therapy

  8. Judy Stone-Goldman
    Judy Stone-Goldman says:

    Thanks for breaking down the components so clearly. I’ve always been vague on a lot of these things–I hear the words everywhere without quite knowing what they mean. I’m going to go back and study this morning. Gradually I’ve done more to improve my site and increase my SEO, and this should help me do more.

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing

  9. Cory Zacker
    Cory Zacker says:

    Abigail – this is extremely helpful and so well explained. It’s a must-read for those about to build a website as well as those of us who already have sites. There are so any factors that go into it and it’s really not intuitive if you’ve never done it before. Thank you for explaining it so clearly!

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