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Time estimate and team members
Content review and development
Site structure and navigation
Finalizing timeline and content
Visual design development
Production and proofing
Launch and maintenance
Site logs tell you who is visiting your site, where they come from, and what they download. Your Web server keeps track of all of the site visits in "log files," but you'll want a software package to analyze those log files for you, such as AWStats, Urchin, or WebTrends.
If you are updating an existing site, make sure to check your Web stats. Which pages are rarely viewed? Is it because your audience can't find them or because they're not targeted to your audience? Go through each page of your site and identify outdated text and photos. From your focus-group research and competitive analysis, you'll have a good idea of what content might be missing from your site.
Additionally, your team might have great new ideas. This is the time to put together a spreadsheet that lists each current page name and who is rewriting or updating it as well as each new page name and who is responsible for content creation. If your content or audience demands photos, illustrations, or complicated tables, graphs, or charts, you'll want to plan as far in advance as possible for these items.
Share good web-writing practices with content providers so they're focusing on usability and the audience. Talk to your writers about the differences between reading on-screen and on paper. And remember, throughout your site, you'll want to ensure a consistent voice. The following tips can help you write right for the Web.
Readers scan the headings and links rather than reading all the text, so the most important information should jump out at them. Bulleted lists are useful for presenting key points, but don't get carried away; too many lists will make your site read like a PowerPoint presentation.
Smaller, conceptually related chunks make it easier for readers who skim to find what they want.
For example, use a table of contents at the top of pages and on separate index pages.
"Above," "below," "top," and "bottom" aren't necessarily meaningful in a hypertext document. Use "next" and "previous" only when you're certain that users have come from the previous page or know that they've landed in the middle of a linear document (as when the document is marked "page 3 of 13" or has other visual or textual cues).
Limit the length of your copy. Text-heavy pages are uninviting, and some readers will skip them altogether. Edit your text down to a reasonable size (under eight hundred words per page), and use white space, graphics, and varying type sizes and weights to break up the page.
Make it easy for users to tell your pages apart by giving each one a distinctive, descriptive title. This is especially important for bookmarking -- try to use titles that are unique (e.g., "Job Openings at HyperMegaGlobalCorp" rather than just "Jobs").
Links should be as clear as possible to a user who is tabbing through them with a screenreader.
Some types of documents are easier to read off-line (lengthy reports, for example). Offer versions of these designed specifically for printing (pdf, rtf, or HTML with black type on a white background and minimal graphics or navigation) for documents such as resumes, reports, receipts, etc.
It's easy to become distracted on the web, so keep your readers engaged by addressing them directly (whenever that's possible) and using gripping language (wherever that's appropriate).
Create a strong identity and sense of place by developing a recognizable editorial tone.
Will everyone in your audience understand these? (A TLA is a three-letter acronym.) Think about offering a glossary (hyperlinked, of course) for readers who aren't familiar with your terms.
Writing on the web tends to age rather rapidly, so avoid using overworked cliches and trendy buzzwords (just think how dated "Information Superhighway" and "cyber" are!).
Make sure your Web authors share the editorial and structural style. Offer a template or example for writers to follow, assign an editor to review and unify all content after it's written. Keep in mind, you'll be establishing additional, separate style guides for good HTML practices.
Next step: Site structure and navigation