Spring Hill Studio, LLC


The information gathered from step one, Site Definition is used to organize and create the structural underpinnings, in step two. Step two is often left out because it is not obvious. Think of the the analogy of building a house. You don't see the joists or the rafters, but they are there and hold up the house. The organization of your web site will be the structure that holds up the graphic design.

What is designed at this step, is the HOW a person interacts with your web site. The path that the person takes to find what they are looking for. How they navigate through and use your web site is the basis for the visual design of it.

This is information design and is a different area of graphic design than choosing what colors will be used on a web page. This is a subtle but important distinction to make and one not to be overlooked.

The organization of information can be enhanced by graphic design or it can be impaired by it. Questions to ask and answer in step two:

How is your site going to be organized?
How are viewers going to get around on your site?

How will users interact with your web site?
What do they see first, next, then next, etc?

Navigation, or how a user gets around your web site depends on what information is to appear on your site. We decide which information is included and important, then develop a hierarchy or information structure. What order the information gets presented, and what information goes where, and on what page, before it get visually designed with graphic design.

Information drives design and must be considered first, BEFORE the visual design of the web site is created. When approached this way, your web site will be highly functional, as well as beautiful.

A definition from Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Designing Large-Scale Web Sites (2nd edition)by Louis Rosenfeld, Peter Morville

The combination of organization, labeling, and navigation schemes within an information system.

The structural design of an information space to facilitate task completion and intuitive access to content.

The art and science of structuring and classifying web sites and intranet's to help people find and manage information

Usability involves navigation and task guidance; readability; comprehension; and presentation speed. Unfortunately, usability is equated with graphic design. It is not graphic design, it is about designing information so that users can easily find and make use of the information you want them to have. This second step of organizing information, is often overlooked which can result in increased costs of time and money.

A site map web page comes out of this step, and is published as part of your web site. I recommend providing users a site map for your web site.

Next is Visual Design or step three of your web site.

Outline of *sequential steps for designing a web site

1. Site Definition -defining and planning your web site

2. Organize Information -identifying content and structuring information

3.Visual Design -graphic design, illustrations, photographs, images

4. Site Construction -software choices, html and test files

5. Site Marketing - determined by the Client

6. Delivery - uploading html files to your server

*steps may be repeated and revisited as the web site develop

"Design is art that makes itself useful."

~1984 poster for Die Neue Sammlung, Design Museum, Munich, Germany.