Considerations for a new or revamped website

When creating a new website or redesigning an existing site, you should take a moment to consider some basic questions about how you want to proceed. Addressing these concerns up front will make for a more useful, better-designed website.

Purpose and Audience

  • What do you hope to accomplish with this project? What are your major goals? What is the motivation for undertaking this project at this point in time?
  • What is the purpose of your site? Are you trying to get information out to to the web, are you soliciting others for information, or are you just wanting to establish links to other resources?
  • Who will be the audience for your site? Academics / researchers? The public? Prospective students? The media? While a site can address more than one audience at a time, knowing who the primary audience will be can help focus your organization and presentation. If your material is valuable to your target audience, they will come back and send others your way.
  • It’s also worth considering if a website is the best way to share your material with your audience. If your main goal is just to share documents or other material with specific colleagues (not the public), for example, you might be better off using something like the Microsoft SharePoint service available through LTS. Contact the LTS SharePoint team for more information about that offering.

Process

  • Who will be working on this project on your end of things? Who are the key decision-makers, and who will act as a “gatekeeper” (primary, solo point of contact) to address issues that arise during the course of the project?
  • What does your timeline look like? What deadlines need to be met? Does this redesign need to fall into line with any portion of the academic calendar?
  • How will we know if this project has succeeded? What are the criteria for success?
  • Once the site is live, who will be responsible for maintaining the content, ensuring that the content remains timely and accurate, making edits as needed to the website, etc.?

Content

  • How much material will exist on the site? Have you already created this content, and if not, how will you go about that process? Will you have a handful of pages or hundreds?
  • What’s the best way to sort and structure your content? Will users be able to find what they need without resorting to a search box?
  • Are there any existing sites with similar content that you like, either in terms of design or usability?
  • Will all of the material be made available to the public, or is there anything that needs to be protected (by a password or UT EID, etc)?
  • How often will your content be updated or added to?
  • Apart from your main material, what other pages should be on the site? Further reading, photographs, bios of people involved in your project, links to other similar projects, etc, could help flesh out the site and make it more useful to your visitors.
  • Are there any copyright or other legal issues involved in posting any of your content? If so, would it be possible to contact the author/owner of the material in question to secure permission?

Presentation

  • Do you have any sites that you find appealing, either visually or in terms of usability?
  • Do you have any photographs or existing design elements (logos, branding, other graphics) that you would like to include on your new site?
  • As a matter of policy, websites that are built and maintained by LTS Web Services are required to use the standard Law School header (the UT tower, orange banner, dropdown menus) and footer (the date, copyright info, and links at the bottom of the page). The only exceptions to this are “standalone”, time-sensitive sites such as our conferences. If you do not want to use the common header and footer, you will have to outsource the design of your site to a 3rd party (we can still host the site on utexas.edu, however).