Chapter 3: Gathering Content
In This Chapter
Determining a site’s content needs
Gathering existing content and obtaining new content
Organizing site content
Creating a visual site map
t this point in the process, you’ve created an identity for the site, have
a clear understanding of the target audience, know who the ideal site
visitor is, and recognize the benefits that can be offered to site visitors.
You’re now at the stage where you can begin guiding the Web client in the
task of gathering and organizing content for the site in a useful and meaning-
ful way. Content includes any text, logos and branding, graphics, photos,
illustrations, Flash movies, MP3s, QuickTime videos, plug-ins, and so forth
that will appear on the site.
Why would you (and your client) want to determine the site’s content needs
before you begin working on the design? Because the content can help
determine the design, organization, navigation, and layout of the site. You
need this information now, before you start the design.
With luck, the client has already prepared a lot of this mate-
rial for you, and your work is just a matter of helping the
client organize that information in a way that’s best
suited for the Web environment. What’s more likely,
however, is that the client has only a vague, fuzzy
idea of what should go on the site, how that content
should be organized, and what a visitor’s experi-
ence on the site might be like.
Please try not to feel too overwhelmed by this task.
Yes, a lot of content may be available, but this chap-
ter is designed to give you the techniques you need
to gather the right content for your site. In fact, to
make it even easier, I’ll start right now with the following
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Defining Site Content Requirements
The client should be responsible for gathering and providing all the
Web site content to you. If the client wants your help with gathering
and/or generating content, he needs to pay you additional fees for these
You should have no redundancy in the content on the site.
Everything should be logically placed into hierarchical categories.
The client must create original work or else obtain the rights for any
images, graphics, and photos used on the site.
If it doesn’t make sense or isn’t necessary, don’t use it.
To assist you with this large and what some think of as a tiresome task, I’ve
created some helpful tools and techniques for you in this chapter. For
starters, you find a series of questions you can ask your client (or yourself,
if designing your own site) to help the client generate ideas for content,
page order, metadata, and site navigation. Then you discover information
and suggestions about where to obtain help with copywriting and editing
and where to license or purchase photographs and illustrations needed for
the site. The latter part of the chapter deals with a Web site architectural
technique called wireframing, and it ends with a few sections on content
organization and the creation of a graphical site map of the entire project.
Defining Site Content Requirements
Before you design or build any Web pages, you must first gather everything
you can from the client to really lock down what content will go on the site.
The reason for this is twofold:
You want to know what will go on the site so that you can create a
design tailored specifically to the site’s content.
You need to set tangible boundaries for your client (for example, gather
all the content now, and after that, no new pages can be added to the
site without incurring additional costs) so that the project can move
ahead successfully and stay on schedule through completion.
Gathering content
The content-gathering process includes getting all the text for the pages,
logos and branding graphics, photographs (either in electronic format or as
images that need to be scanned), illustrations, Flash movies, MP3s,
QuickTime videos, PDFs, and anything else that will appear on, or can be
downloaded from, the site. Some of these items will already be prepared by
the client, but other items might need to be created, licensed, and other-
wise obtained. Most of this content-gathering stuff is really the client’s
responsibility, not yours. However, because many Web clients don’t yet
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