Once you have defined objectives and audiences for your site, you can start to think about the content and navigation.
Content should at least meet your objectives. Everything else is padding. What you want people to do should be top of your content list and the most prominent item on your navigation. All charities want an 'about us' section, but that isn't the most important part of the site, and people will work harder to find it. If you want them to join, campaign or donate, then that should be clearly signposted on your home page.
Try to think like your audience, not your job title. We traditionally divide content by department - but site visitors don't think like that. They are looking for what interests them or what they want to do, so group content by audience or activity. Think about the sites you like using and how you navigate around them.
Draw out a site map with section headings, which will become your main navigation, and sub-sections that show enough detail to make sense of your content.
Then match your content back to your audience types. Do you have content for all the audiences you listed? If not, where is it coming from? Do you have content that has no audience? If so, drop the content.
If you already have a site and are planning a redesign or rebuild, it is essential to re-evaluate existing content. Decide whether you still want it and, if so, whether it needs rewriting and updating.
When planning your site, expect the most painful job to be creating content internally. Getting other departments to write or update their content is always difficult. Meet each department, discuss what needs writing or updating, agree a schedule and push them hard to keep to the agreed deadlines.
- Sue Fidler is an independent charity ICT and internet consultant.