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Building a
Collaborative
Web Project
Define
Design
Site design
Project site
Web development resources
Web design
Write for the Web
Balance content & presentation
Copyright issues
Summary
Further reading
Deliver
1. Information design
2. Site structure
3. Site navigation

Site design

1. Information design

Side Bar

"The beginning of all understanding is classification."

Sir Hayden White

Side Bar

You've brainstormed a number of great ideas and edited them down to a workable number, but how do you organize them in such a way that other people can find what they're looking for in your Web project?

Remember you're building an educational Web site and one of the goals is to help guide people to your information.

The first step is to take all of your ideas and start looking for patterns. Say that your team has gone through several brainstorming sessions and has compiled a list of ideas or specific pieces of information that they want to include on their Web project.

List of Ideas
ex. 1
 

apple yellow hip hop dog
red basketball brown kiwi
monkey jazz peach pop
baseball chicken swimming black
banana green elephant cat
blue watermelon purple rugby

Lumped together like this, these ideas don't make much sense. But, if you look closely you'll recognize patterns and logical relationships. These ideas can be broken down into more manageable groups, such as fruits, colors, animals, sports, and musical styles.

List of Ideas
ex. 2
 

Fruits Colors Sports Animals Musical Styles
apple red baseball monkey jazz
banana blue basketball chicken hip hop
watermelon yellow swimming elephant pop
peach green rugby dog  
kiwi brown   cat  
  purple      
  black      

If you look at most Web sites, you'll see that content is grouped logically. The main page will have a menu or navigation buttons which take you deeper into each of these subject headings. By mapping information, you're not only making sense of that information, you're also determining the framework for your entire site.

Tip: The preceding example is a very simplified version of a team's idea list. In real life, information groups are usually not this clearly defined. You'll find that a number of your ideas or pieces of information might fit reasonably in a number of categories, such as "peach" which is both a fruit and a color.

At this time, your team will need to agree where information should be organized. The important thing to do is try to put yourself in the shoes of your intended audience. How do you think they will see the information?

After you've defined the relationships between information, you'll want to organize these groups into a visual representation, or a site structure, of your Web project.

page 1: Information design
page 2: Site structure
page 3: Site navigation

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