This site is a primer on how to make great McGill.ca websites. It's an informal set of tips and best practices aimed at helping you attract visitors to your site, making your content easier to find and understand, improving your site with traffic data, and more. Web 101 is not, however, a technical guide to using McGill's Web Management System (Drupal) – that information is covered in the Knowledge Base maintained by IT Services.
How to build your website
This site houses tips and best practices for:
- Planning your website
This should be the first stage of any Web project – a time for consulting your stakeholders, examining your Web traffic and working out exactly what you need. The communications goals, strategies, audiences and other information you identify in this phase of the project are absolutely essential to keep the project focused and on track.
- Menus and information architecture
Once you've got a plan, you'll need to categorize your content so you can build menus. What's most important? Should you organize content by subject (e.g. academic advising, HR, research), or by audience (students, staff, faculty, etc.)? The menu will be the backbone of your site, and once it's built, your project will start to take shape.
- Writing for the Web
Most everyone can communicate their ideas reasonably well, but Web writing requires a totally different style. It must at once be concise, skimmable, intuitively structured and easy to understand. It should engage your readers and drive traffic to strategic locations, and convey just the right tone.
Next, you may want images to help tell your story, explain your services, or drive the reader to do or decide a certain thing. Images are not always essential, but strong sites leverage their ability to add polish, information and overall value.
- Layout and design
With your content now built, it's time to pretty it up. Layout will play a huge role in determining whether your site "feels" sleek or old-fashioned, but layout goes beyond just setting the tone: even the greatest content will likely be ignored if it's hard to read, overpowered by a dozen slideshows, or hidden away at the bottom of a never-ending page.
- Usability testing
So now your site is built – but is it any good? Consider running a usability test to see if your visitors can find what they're looking for – and understand once they've found it.
- Google Analytics
Once your site is off and running, sign up for Google Analytics to see how people are using your site. You can also request a one-on-one consultation where we'll help you leverage your traffic data to make your site even better. All these services are free.