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Lesson 6 Using the Site Planner for signs and metaphors
Objective Use the Site Planner to determine sign and metaphor needs.

Using the Site Planner for Signs and Metaphors

The Site Planner is not specific to the SEOMining web site. This incredibly valuable tool can be used with any Web site project. The Site Planner is a tool that lists questions that you will need to consider in planning Web site requirements. A number of questions focus on creative needs at each stage of the Web site development process. Although it is written with the assumption that the Web site is a commercial, for-profit site, it can easily be adapted to suit the needs of non-profit organizations or educational institutions. If you have not yet looked at this document, you will need to download it now from the Course Resources Page.

Looking ahead

The Site Planner helps to structure the many competing challenges of web development into a coherent process.
Through the process of asking the many questions which make-up the Site Planner, the developer formulates a clear picture of the site's purpose, objectives, audience, resources, and inevitable constraints. The website planner is the instrument that improves information gathering about the site, and increases the likelihood of an optimal outcome, though there are no guarantees. By its deliberate probing of potential concerns or requirements, it aids the developer in formulating a preliminary design most appropriate to the customer's diverse objectives.

Questions for three phases

The Site Planner is organized in coordination with the phases of the Web Site Development Process Model, and includes questions for the first three phases: Discovery, Definition, and Design. This requires that you solicit information from your client on at least three different occasions, as the project proceeds and both sides develop clearer ideas of what is needed and desired. You and your client can decide if you wish to go through these questions by conference call, email, or meetings. They will most certainly require input from more than one person on the client side, unless it is an extremely small enterprise.

Phase One: Discovery

In the Discovery section, the only question for creative concerns is,
Who will develop and edit the response to the RFP?
As you might imagine, questions at this early stage are more general than questions that follow in subsequent phases. Some questions for business concerns that will have an impact on signs and metaphors address the following issues:
  1. Company strengths (may include brand awareness and loyalty)
  2. Competition (including artwork on their Web sites)
  3. Hopes for the Web site (vision and mission affects look and feel)
  4. Audience (demographics will affect design choices)
  5. Budget (will affect design choices)
  6. Timeline (will affect design choices)

Phase Two: Definition

In the Definition phase, the questions begin to focus in on more specific details of the project.
Some of the questions from the Definition phase's Business section may impact signs and metaphor choices. Areas of concern are:
  1. Future maintenance issues (changing or upgrading artwork)
  2. Decision-making and ownership of various parts of project (affects direction of signs and metaphors)
  3. System capabilities of end users (may limit multimedia options, file sizes)
  4. Need for more training or hiring (determines extent of work load)
  5. Definition of quality
Some of the questions from the Definition phase's Creative section deal with issues of:
  1. Existing marketing materials
  2. Review of similar, competing sites
  3. Budget for new artwork and/or content

Phase Three: Design

The Design phase is the last phase in which this kind of questioning takes place. If information from your client surfaces any later than this phase, you may be faced with a need to rework artwork or structure of the site, which is a threat to your budget and/or schedule.
Some of the questions from the Design phase's Business section deal with issues of:
  1. Measurements of success
  2. Audience: needs of stockholders and stakeholders
  3. Legal requirements (permissions for artwork)
  4. Testing
  5. Critical dates for project

Some of the questions from the Design phase's Creative section deal with issues of:
  1. Key functional and navigational features
  2. Existing vs. needed content
  3. Sources for new content
  4. Brand and marketing guidelines
  5. Brand awareness in consumer base
  6. Integration with other marketing programs
Some of the questions from the Design phase's Technical section deal with issues of:
  1. Platform standards
  2. Security policy, software
  3. Growth plans

Helpful tool

The Site Planner is an extremely effective tool for gathering data. By questioning client representatives, your team will gain valuable information and clarity about their expectations for the site and the work process to develop it. If you have not done so, now is the time to download it from your Course Resources page. The following exercise will require that you look through the Site Planner for answers.
In the next lesson, you will learn some techniques for gathering audience information.

Contingency Site Planning

Click the link below to learn more about contingency site planning.
Contingency Site Planning

Signs Metaphors - Quiz

Click the Quiz link below to test your understanding of roles and documents for effective signs and metaphors.
Signs Metaphors - Quiz