Build Your Information Architecture
Before you begin to build out any web pages on your site it is helpful to build the location the pages will live. At that point you can configure a starter page for each area that is configured for that particular area. For example, you can make a page with the “About Us” tab already active and any sub navigation elements relative to the “About Us” area of your site set in place on a single starter page. You can then copy this page for each page you will build in this area of your site. Consider it a template-based-on-a-template. If you are using Dreamweaver or another advanced HTML editor you can further take advantage of this concept by employing Templating within the framework of that tool.
Create Your Website Directory Structure
The directory structure of your website will closely match the information architecture you decided on in the Planning Phase.
- Create a folder at the root of your site for each of the main areas of your site. Remember to use short, descriptive words or acronyms for your folder names. Do not use spaces or special characters. Using all lowercase will make your URL’s look better in print.
- Create the sub directories for each of the nested areas of your site inside their corresponding main area.
- Place any documents, images or other media files you know will be used in the website into their service directories.
Test and Validate Your Website
You have likely been building your website on a local web server or a testing machine. Before you launch your website to the world it is best to ensure you have a everything straight. To save time you or one of your team members may have skipped a spell check or code validation. Take the time to run these quality controls on a regular basis and before any major release.
- Be sure all pages in your site are listed in your site map.
- Check all pages in your site for broken links.
- Validate all pages in your site to ensure you have used only valid XHTML.
- Run an automated accessibility check on all your pages followed by a visual inspection for any potential issues.
- Test your website in multiple browsers and versions of Internet browsers, operating systems, connection speeds, and screen resolutions (based on analysis of your website visitors).
Publish Your Website
If you are certain you site is ready for the world to see, place it on your production servers, and tell the world it is there.
- Place all the files on the live server and run your quality controls one last time.
- Issue a press release about the launch of your new website.
- Invite any and all websites with associated content to link to specific pages on your site that may be helpful to their users.