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Icon or Spacer Macromedia Website Production Management Techniques Phase 3: Structure
Site View

Viewing the project from a bird's eye perspective is a chance to see how the site is organized and how the user will view the site from a content and informational perspective. This is a primary reason to create a site map, which is the blueprint or backbone that will shape the site during the development process. Traditionally, there is an individual from the design team who is designated as the information architect or information designer. Whether you have a dedicated individual or will need to handle structuring as the project manager, it is worth the effort to educate the client and the team about how important this step is to the overall development process. The time spent in this step will allow the client, the designers, the production team and engineering to be on the same page throughout the process.

 
Site View
A high level conceptual view and backbone structure of the entire site. Creation of the site map usually occurs at this stage, which identifies how the content will be presented from hierarchical perspective. Some functional aspects may be shown, often through flowchart-like process flows. However, it is usually not a technical specification document.
 

Building a Site Map
The site map shows a high level view of the site, and should show main areas of content and a representation of all HTML pages and dynamic or database-driven areas within each section. Your site map should be based on the content outline, as well as any sketches or existing site maps the client may provide. If possible, it is best if the client approves the content outline before site map creation begins. Once you complete the initial structure of your site map (which may take several iterations)—you need to take a look at the structure from a user's perspective to see if it makes sense and is navigable. Use a drawing program such as Macromedia FreeHand or an outlining program such as Microsoft Visio or Inspiration Software to show the main pages and high level functionality. Be sure to show primary links and global navigation.

 
Keep Site Map Updated
The site map, once created, will be used by the entire team to stay on track during the project. It MUST be kept up to date. HTML production artists use the site map to check off their progress during the production process; content creators use the site map to check off pages and deliverables; programmers use it while building functionality. Keep a version number and date on the top of the document, and make sure every team member (including the client) has an updated copy.
 

Setting Naming Conventions
Setting the naming conventions during site map creation is an important part of the process. Naming conventions, once set, will help to determine the organization of the project (from content/asset organization to HTML production and application building.) There are two types of naming conventions that should be addressed: Organizational (numeric) and URL conventions. Organizational naming is a manner of applying a numeric or alphanumeric convention to the site map One effective method designates the home page as 0.0 and the primary sections are 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and so on. Sub sections under primary pages are 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and so on. This hierarchy of organization can be applied to content (text files and images) as a way to quickly and easily identify where a piece of content goes. Pages should be given traditional URL names as well, which can be based on the production team's preference.

 

Addressing Functional Areas
The version of the site map we outline in this stage is not a functional specification document, although it can effectively show where functionality appears from a user's perspective. This includes features such as user login and registration. Decision trees can also be shown, such as showing a preregistered user path vs. an unregistered new user. For complex functionality such as e-commerce and search features, a basic path can be shown. The engineering team who will be handling the actual programming and database creation will usually be handling technical specifications and details on an interrelated development track that should be driven by the user-centric design specifications discussed here (Note: we will cover these processes in future additions to this site). Project managers or engineers working on the project will generally use the site map as a guide. Changes made to the site map need to be communicated regularly as they might affect both the design and development process.

 
Full Site Mapping
Mapping out a large site with hundreds of pages can be a slightly intimidating process (to say the least). Showing all links may cause such a mess that you can't tell which page is linking to which. Keep it simple. Map out as much as time and budget allow—taking into consideration that this site map will be used not only to map out content, but also to provide production with a visual check list during the HTML production and programming process.
 
Design Shops—Charge For Additions and Deletions
If the client makes any changes to the content or structure of the site after it is signed off it is grounds for an AC (additional charge). Any changes, whether taking away or adding pages or sections to the site map, especially late in the game (after HTML production and programming has already begun) take you a step back in the process and must be recognized as a change in scope.

 

 

 

 

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Overview
Analyzing Your Industry
Understanding Your Audience
 Define
Overview
Goals and Objectives
Creating a Project Plan
Establishing Requirements
Housekeeping
 Structure
Overview
Content
Site View
Screen View
User View
Design and Prototype
 Build and Test
Overview
Pre-Production
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Testing
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