Mapping Out Your Website Design

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Explanation

Depending on your learning style you may want to complete this assignment earlier in the course.  You might find it helps you relate to the other assignments. In this lesson you will get a chance to take a deep dive into how you would like your website to look.  What features you would like to have on it now and what features you might like to have in the future.  You will get to use your creative juices and shoot for the moon here. In the next lesson, you will actually have to build it though. ;-(

Frustration Alert

You want me to design my entire site when I am knew to this whole thing?  Seriously?!   Perhaps you are feeling this way right now.  When I first started putting together websites for my classes I had a very limited idea of exactly what I wanted.  I just knew I wanted to do it.  I felt empowered knowing I did not have to completely finish the website design all in one session.  That my initial map was just a start and that I would add to the map and the website along the way.  The best way to build a site is to just do it.  At this point in the course you have the skills, or at least a reference to all the skills you will need.  As Mr. Nike says,  “JUST DO IT.”

AssignmentAssignment

  1. Grab a free mind mapping program.  My personal favorite is Xmind.  Feel free to do it by hand if you prefer.  I like big whiteboards for this sort of thing too.
  2. Map out your web pages.  Start with the top level such as class subjects, or similar, and then start listing the topics that are underneath.
  3. Add some notes to each of the web pages so you will know what content goes there later when you start building
  4. In the comments section below, leave a brief response (for or against) this statement: “It is crazy to build a website without a plan.  Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!”
    1. If you have done so already, consider getting your own Gravatar. This will enable a picture of some sort to be next to any comment you make on this website and many, many others around the web. Interested? Try it out here.
  5. Upload a copy of your web map. You can do this as a picture, PDF or link
  6. Write a reflection (250 word minimum) about your finalized map.  You might want to discuss:
    1. The size or intensity of the task you have before you
    2. The most enjoyable aspects to deciding how your website should be designed
    3. The difficulties of designing a website; perhaps for the first time

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heritageIf you registered for this course via the THI website, please submit your assignments via the THI portal here.  Questions?  Email Michael right away.

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53 Comments

  1. I don’t agree with this statement, since different people has different preference. For those, who needs to see a clear picture of where they are heading to, it is a good idea for planning, and I am one of them. However, there are also group of people, they would freak out, if they are given too much stuff at one time, and planning will make them feel that way.

    • I agree. I don’t like to plan in the beginning as I have no idea what exactly I am doing! Much better for me to build my website for a while, get a feel for it and then draw out the map.

      It depends on the size of the website too though. A company should have a website map first.

      • As a Web Design teacher, this is the most critical piece I have my students complete. Without this plan, they would waste valuable lab time, sitting staring at a blank computer screen or surfing the web getting them no where. Choosing their topic is usually the hardest part, then I have them visit other related sites to help get ideas of different pages to help complete their mappings.

  2. Yes, I agree with it. I like to plan before action. To build a website is a huge task for me, therefore without plan I don’t think I can make it. Since there are so many things to organize on the website, a plan can help me to have a general and clear view of all the things I want to input, which is absolutely necessary.

  3. I disagree this statement since I like building a website with a plan. It helps me have a clear picture of what I want my website look like. It does take time on mapping out the website design, but it deserve this because when you know your target clearly before you do, it will help you save more time when you work on it.

  4. Building a website without a plan would be like trying to build a house without blueprints. It just wouldn’t go very well.

    Before you begin to build any website you should have a design for the finished product. This way you make sure you have all the pieces included and that they will fit together in a cohesive way. The design can be modified if need be, but it sets the structure to begin.

    • I am TERRIBLE with creating a plan first for some reason. I just love to get right in and start building. After building for a while, I then like to go back and ensure I have a plan of some sort.

      I think it just fits the way I learn. If I jump in then I start to understand what is possible. I can then sit back and reflect a little bit about it all and make design.

  5. For some people planning is essential. For others, it just slows them down. I love to plan. Even though I plan, my idea usually goes through an evolution of “I thought that would work” and “you’re right, I’m dumb”, before the finish product emerges. I agree with your last post, dinking around on the website and then drawing out a map was a great idea.

    • Good for you for being a planner. It took me until my forties to become a planner. I was always about “click and go.” For some reason now I don’t mind planning first. In the end, I think this planning “thing” is really a good idea. As soon as I get the understanding of what is possible, then I can plan effectively .

  6. Planning and just “going for it” are like two edges of the same sword. I find that there is usually a balance between the two that works for me. Planning tends to work best when I am well skilled in my endeavor and have a clear understanding of my goal. However, that is not always the case. So what happens if skills are raw and the vision is not completely resolved? I don’t just want a plan; I want a good plan. I think a better term for “just going for it” might be ‘exploration’. For me the exploration phase is what lead to a clear plan. Sometimes going for it leads to having to re-do, or rebuild, but that process is what builds skill and generates creative ideas. I think that it might consume a bit more time in that way but results in better plan in the end.

    • Josh you are so right with the “exploration” idea. I know our students love to explore first and then plan later. Well, sometimes they don’t really like to plan. 😉 Exploring is what makes things so interesting and enticing. Sometimes I worry if we ask students to plan so much, we take away the fun part of learning something new.

  7. I started mapping this site out before even starting it so I know how important this step is. I think it was just a natural part of the brainstorming process for me. However, as I start to build the site I can see I will make adjustments once I see what it really looks like on the Web.

    • I want to be a person who can plan first and build second, but I can’t seem to work it out that way. Still need to play first, then plan, then build. Oh well. At my age I guess I have come to understand how I learn!

  8. I don’t really agree with the statement. It was important for me to make a plan of what I want to include in my website, but I could not have done the plan without starting my site first. I had to play with the program and figure out what all my options were before I could actually consider what to include. Whenever I do a big project, I always have to jump right into it first and get messy, and then I do a plan to flush out the details and think about how I can fine tune the product.

  9. “It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!”

    I may be mirroring some previous comments, but I am definitely the play first, build second and maybe plan later type. The only order inside my mind is chaotic order, but that is not to dismiss the benefits of pre-planning, as different people will have different methods. Personally, I enjoy jumping right in and tweaking as I go along or refine at the end. I have learned that I tend to play it safer and take fewer risks if I plan ahead, because rather than letting my ideas spill, I am busy critiquing myself or scratching out ideas. To each their own. : )

    • I guess it depends on your learning style. For those of us that like to play first, before we can learn, this method seems better. That is what I love about computers. I can do tons of stuff and get my hands dirty at the same time.

  10. “It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!”

    I’m of two minds regarding this statement. I think it’s important to have a general sense of the big picture that you’re seeking. This vision will help guide you in making decisions and alleviate the sense of feeling overwhelmed by too many choices. By looking at similar sites, those who are unsure are able to gather ideas which may help point them in a specific direction. However, I don’t think every detail needs to be nailed down. Along the way, often you have a new idea or insight, realize what you initially thought isn’t going to work as well, etc and need to have the freedom to explore and create. I would recommend though that through the exploration process keeping those pages/ posts in draft form before making it public. It also helps to have two or three sets of eyes take a look at what you’re building. I often ask my close friends for feedback as I build as I know they may see something that I’m might be overlooking.

  11. There are many different learning styles and people work in many different ways. It would be hard to say that no one should complete a web page without a map, but it does make sense. When looking at how to write a paper or speech, or build a house, it would be wise to create a set of plans to know what to do when. For me, it was nice to see everything that I wanted on paper and then start creating. However, I know that just through the process, there will be new ideas that come up and will change. I will likely continue to add, edit and create long after the initial site is up and running. And I think that’s ok. Obviously, over time, websites will need to adapt and change based on the needs of the people it serves. I think thats the real important thing.

  12. “It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!”

    Before receiving this assignment, when I started to think about my webpage, I made my own map of what I wanted to include in it. I am a visual learner and needed to map out what I wanted before I got started so that I could be sure I didn’t forget any important information. For me, building a website without a plan would be very messy and could possibly lead to at page that would be difficult to navigate. When creating a new website, it helps a great deal to have a plan for your project. At the same time, the website plan should not be written in stone. I think it is also very important to play with the website and make sure that the design works.

  13. The temptation to start building without a plan is too strong for mere mortals like myself. It is only after you make the mistake of actually trying to create a bunch of content, then see where it should go, that you realize you are lost, lost, lost in a web of repetitive and overlapping categories. Like many, I did try to build a website without a plan and it left me disorganized and frustrated, with results. It is right up there with beginning to teach a new unit without a plan, or build a table without a plan, or basically anything complex that has a defined end product. You *need* a plan. That being said, I didn’t realize I needed one until assignment #7 or so, when I cooked one up. Since then, things have been much more clear!

    • Uh oh, maybe I should put a link to assignment #7 early on then! That would be a good idea. Thanks for suggesting it! Anyway, the main difference between your building a site with out a plan and teaching a class without a plan is no students were harmed during the making of you website. 😉

  14. “It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!”

    I am not sure about “crazy”, but I am a firm believer in some sort of planning because I find my time to be quite valuable. I frequently utilize time I have in meetings to brain storm on paper, which is what I did this last week in simple preparation for my website project. I have to say that it got a bit overwhelming as I thought up all of the possible information that could be added to my site for students and parents. Perhaps the planning in and of itself could drive me “crazy”?

    • Wait, that is awesome! Brainstorming a website during a staff meeting! I think we should start a movement on this. People will be happier at staff meetings and the world will have more teacher websites.

      What do you think?

  15. Does anyone actually build a website without any basic idea of what they want? Although I hadn’t written anything down until this point, I’ve had a good idea of what on my website for a long time. I find that I’m more creative when I don’t have a set plan. I also find that I’m a little more disorganized and easily distracted. Those distractions, however, have led me to finding some great inspiration! Sketching out a plan was a useful task for me, but I imagine my website’s plan will evolve and change quite a bit.

    • I am totally sure your website will evolve. For me that is what makes it all so awesome! I love to just play and create and then go back and plan as well. Does that mean great minds think alike? 😉

  16. “It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!”

    I think this depends of the purpose of the site and external factors. If you are designing the site for someone else or to meet a specific purpose (class Unit of Inquiry etc.) then you need a more specific site map. This allows other stakeholders in the site to be more actively involved in the design process. However, if you are designing a site for your own personal use, then I think a basic plan is all you need. There is a kind of freedom and spontaneity in designing as you go that you can’t get in a structured map. I’m sure you probably engage in a lot more trial and error learning this way as well.

  17. Hello everyone! If you are having trouble defining a “static” page as a default home page and a separate “blog” page link I’ve got a great instructional link for you.

    https://codex.wordpress.org/Creating_a_Static_Front_Page

    In regards to the statement “It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly”. I believe the level of preplanning depends on the purpose, content, and complexity of the website. For example a personal blog site vs. a corporate website. For my teacher site I found it helpful to map it out visually yet much of the structure of the site was predetermined by the classes and the projects I teach. The current template “2014” I’m using has a “persistent” navigation bar that is visible even when the page is scrolled which makes for easy navigation throughout the site. WARNING: “2014” is glitchy when it comes to the use of the “sticky post” option.

  18. “It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!” I have been very “silly” in the past. It worked a little
    but using an organizer can smooth things. Even though one can never completely predict what glitches may come, planning sure does narrow them
    down. Each person works different, teaching others has taught me that. I do love efficiency. The older I get the less time I want to waste.

  19. That statement made me laugh, since that’s about what I’ve been doing so far–I had a general concept in my head, but the layout of the site has definitely evolved through the assignments and as I have built it up. I have found myself doing some of the mind mapping in my head–thinking about it as I walk up the stairs to my office, or at other various times. I don’t think it’s silly to go in without a plan–but at the very least you need a solid idea. And I think it depends on your time table as well–if you want a site up and launched soon, it’s better to have things clearly mapped out. If you have time and room for flexibility, then letting it organically unfold isn’t always a terrible idea, but might take a lot longer with more trial and error.

  20. I am going to take the middle road with the statement “It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!”. The objective or goal of the website is the most important piece of the plan and that needs to be known in advance. A well developed website needs to have a certain design depending on the goal of the site, and that needs to be carefully thought out ahead of time. Revamping a site because of problems that are found later can be very time consuming. For example, a personal site is not a problem, but online businesses can succeed or fail depending on their website design.

    Having said that though, a website is also a creative thing. Creativity can only be planned ahead so far. And the best thing about websites are that they can be modified, tweaked, reworked, and scrapped as the need arises – it just takes time.

    • It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!
      I agree and disagree with this statement. I believe that it is important to have an outline of what you want to do with the website, but I don’t think that it is crazy or silly to start without one. In general in the education field, it’s important to have an end goal in mind before starting something. Every time I develop curriculum I start with what I want my students’ final product to be, and then I go backwards to create the steps with how I’d like them to get there.
      With my website, I had a rough outline of what I wanted my students and me to be able to do with the final product, however I’ve been tweaking things as I’ve started it’s development. New creative ideas arise as I’ve started working on it, that I didn’t have when I started. In the end, I’ll always be able to tweak things as I go, and that makes the whole process more flexible. It wouldn’t have been crazy to start without a rough plan, but I’m glad that I did have a plan before I started mine.

  21. “It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!”

    I think that it sure makes it a lot easier to build when you plan and have the end result in mind. Having a map of what the final site will look like allows you to gather resources and content and get everything organized. It makes the actual construction of the site a little easier because you aren’t going back and forth and changing the layout. Once you know what the plan is it’s easier to chunk up the work and get it done bit by bit.

  22. “It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!”

    I thought that too, until the assignments led me to “just go for it”. Now, I had a plan in my head, I just didn’t map it out. I felt that this assignment was similar to writing a paper and then being told I needed an outline after the paper was perfected. But oh well, its done!

  23. “It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!”

    I am a planner, so I like to have at least a skeletal plan before I write a paper or complete an assignment or detailed task – whether that is in my mind or on paper. My plan for the web page has evolved over the duration of this course, but I did start with a plan. For those who “go for it” – to each his/her own. Some people can do just fine without a plan, but I am not that person.

  24. I definitely prefer to have a plan before I begin a task, but I also know people who prefer to just jump write in and edit and change and completely reconfigure as needed. I think it just depends on a person’s way of relating to the world.

  25. I thought I was nice to have a basic plan down. I don’t think it’s necessary to have a lot details, or even the whole end product, mapped out. I planned out the first few things that I wanted on my site, and I felt like it inspired me to explore on my own on WordPress after that. I knew I would be able to figure out the basics. Since I had a purpose and my first few pages in mind, I spent more time creating the site immediately after I mapped it out. I’m sure there are some people that prefer to skip the planning process though.

  26. I agree and disagree, sometimes it is difficult to plan too far in the future. I have often done this when trying to plan for classes in the summertime. I will spend a week planning different projects, but when the time comes, I end up changing the plan because I need to adapt to unpredicted circumstances.

  27. “It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!”

    I’m not in full agreement with this statement. Sure I hand wrote a short rough draft, but most of the planning took place a) in my head and b) by trial and error. I am a planner, but not in the traditional write it down see it format. It seems to work for me…or at least I think it does.

  28. “It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!”

    My response to that prompt is that both planning and ‘going for it,’ are valuable. Planning a website is something totally new to me. When I started this class I tried to plan what I wanted on a website and found that my plans did not go very far. I had never created a website before and didn’t know what my capabilities would be in WordPress. So for me, doing some trial and error and exploration in the beginning – or ‘going for it’ – have enabled me to build a better plan. I feel like now that I have tinkered a bit with WordPress, I can create an educated plan without wasting time in fruitless directions.

  29. “It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!” Before I started this website I had an idea of what I wanted to put on it. The problem with me is that too often I think that more is better. Right now it’s pretty simple and straight forward and the changes I am thinking of making will create more complexities, I’m think. So am not sure if that’s a good idea or not. Clearly one needs a plan when building a website, or at the least a general idea of what the purpose is of it and what needs to be on it. The exact order of things may evolve as it’s developed. BUT all that said, it’s easier in the long run to have a plan and construct it, with some flexibility, so that the end product does reflect the desired intent.

  30. I don’t think that it is crazy to build a website without a plan. A lot of the planning comes about as you work your way through the site options. It gives you ideas about the planning process as you go along. I really appreciate that I could start the learning process without a huge plan in the beginning. However, as I prepare to have high school students building a site within a Digital Production course, I do want to have a plan for them. I want to be able to have them follow me step-by-step…and I need to know where I am going in order to lead them. Later, they can go off on their own creative bent, but in the beginning there are too many students who would falter without clear guidance from me. If I had a student that embraced WordPress and wanted to break away from the plan, I would have no problem with that.

  31. I think that for the purpose of this class, learning how to build a website using WordPress, going for it without a plan is fine. For some, this might always work. For me…not so much. I like having a plan and a back up plan and a back up for my back up. This seemed a little chaotic to me at times. The good news is that I think I can change around the aspects that I want to change with little effort. Key word being think. I would be a little stressed if I was months into this website development and then finally formulated a plan.

  32. I don’t think it is crazy to “go for it without a plan.” It might just take longer to format a website to be exactly as you want if you start it without a plan because you will be reorganizing things after you have already created them.

  33. Having a plan was very comforting to me. I like starting a project with an idea of where I’m going, with lots of flexibility built-in.for adjustments along the way.

  34. Everyone works best in their own unique way. I need a solid plan, other people may do just as well without one.

  35. I agree with the statement “It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!”. I like the idea of learning the basics of web design first so you know what you are capable of, but once you know that it makes sense to have a plan. Without a plan your site may come out to be a confusing mess.

  36. I like a little bit of both. Starting with a general idea that is later complimented by creativity is my recipe for success.

  37. “It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!”

    This is certainly a true statement for me. I am definitely a planner and I like to begin with the end in mind. I don’t like to waste time, and it works for me to plan things out. On the other hand, different people think in different ways, and I could see where some people could do just fine jumping in to the project without much planning and they could generate a great website.

  38. (for or against) this statement: “It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!”

    A plan is a great idea, whether it is formal such as our website maps, or the ideas you have had in your mind with some notes scribbled on a sticky note along the way. I enjoyed mapping it out on paper though so it gives me a chance to get creative. I’m looking forward to the finished product!

  39. “It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!”

    I agree with this statement. Although not everyone will agree with this statement, likely due to different styles of completing assignments and differences in learning styles, I am the type of person that likes to have a plan before diving into a project. While some people can create something without a plan, I like to have at least an idea in my mind of what I’d like to create.

  40. It is crazy to build a website without a plan. Those people who just ‘go for it’ are silly!”
    As a beginner at website design, I can see that it can get very elaborate in the planning stages…I just kept everything simple yet logical.

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