Step 1: Set goals

Where are we?

There are three steps in creating a site: define goals, design a framework, and fill the framework. Let’s talk about the first one.

This page’s goals

By the end of this page, you should know the goals of:

  • The people who own the Web site.
  • The people who use the Web site.

Some material from Foundations will be repeated here. It’s worth going over again.

Examples, exercises, and your eMe

We’ll look at three sites as we go.

  • I’ll use the small business site Delightful Dogs as an example. I’ll show you how I would make it.
  • You’ll make a dog park site, as an exercise.
  • You’ll work on your eMe, to tell the world about yourself.

Clara Here’s some background for the example. Clara Cairn owns Delightful Dogs. DD has four locations around a city. Each location offers services and products. The services are grooming, obedience training for humans, and drop-in day care. Most of DD’s revenue is from these services. DD also sells products, like toys and shampoo, but it’s a small part of the business.

Delightful Dogs has eight employees at its main store, and five at each of the others. DD also has part-time employees, mainly college students and retired people who help out at the day care and training classes.

Clara hires you to make a Web site.

OK, let’s talk about site goals. We’ll start with site owners, then move on to site users. But first, another in our fine series of dog park exercises.

Exercise: Dog parks near you

You’ll be making a site about dog parks.

A dog park is, well, a park for dogs. A big open space, fenced. We can run around with no leash. Play, play, play!

Find out what dog parks are in your area. Type the names of two or three dog parks in the space below. Include links to Web pages about each park.

If you don’t have any dog parks nearby, list dog parks in some other place. Maybe check out New York city’s dog parks.

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Owner goals

The owners of a Web site want something from their investment. Different businesses want different things. But there are some things that most every site owner wants:

  • Brand awareness
  • Product/service knowledge
  • Behavior
  • Self-service

Brand awareness

A brand is about beliefs. It’s an association people make between a logo or a name, and some benefits.

You know a lot of brands. When up see “McDonalds,” for example, you automatically think “fast food.” When you see “Coca Cola,” you think about “cold, yummy soda.”

The emotional tone of a site should be consistent with the brand messages. Let’s look at two designs.

I show them as they were at the time of writing. They’ve both changed since.

Here’s the first, part of the Lego home page:


Figure 1. Lego home page

My words for the design were “attractive, blocky, fun, play, kids.” Matches the Lego brand.

Look at this:

Web Designer's Wall

Figure 2. Web Designer’s Wall

I wrote down “quirky, arty, creative, advanced.” “Advanced” from a technical point of view; people who aren’t Web geeks might not write this down.

So site owners want their sites to promote their brand. Anything else?

Product/service knowledge

Brand awareness is about general benefits. Some people will want those benefits, and others will not. For those who do, site owners want them to know more about the products or services.

For example, if you’re interested in fast food, McDonalds wants you to know about their different sandwiches.


Owners want site users to do things, like:

  • Print a coupon
  • Sign up for a newsletter
  • Go to a store
  • Buy a product

Messages that encourage people to do these things are calls to action.

Here’s a call to action that might be on Delightful Dogs:

Call to action

Figure 3. Call to action

It could be on the home page, the main grooming page, and a special offers page.


Suppose you buy some software, and have trouble installing it on your computer. What do you do? You could call customer service. You could look on the company’s Web site.

Which would the company prefer you to do? Usually, they’d prefer you to look on their Web site. It’s cheaper for them. They don’t have to have anyone answer the phone.

Same for buying stuff. It’s cheaper for the company if you buy online. No people to hire, no building to pay for.

Having a good self-service Web site can save a company a lot of money.

Delightful Dogs

  • Brand awareness. When people hear that name, Clara wants them to think of “dog grooming” and “human training.” The Web site should strengthen the association.
  • Knowledge. There should be info about all of DD’s services on the site. Benefits, cost, where to get them… For example:
    • What dogs will look like after grooming. Maybe before and after photos.
    • What humans should be able to do after training. Maybe videos would help.
    • What the grooming and training spaces look like.
    • The qualifications of the staff.
  • Behavior. Clara wants people to pick up the phone and make an appointment. The phone number should be easy to find on every page. Clara wants to give first-time customers a discount.
  • Self-service. This isn’t a big part of the DD site, but there can be some info. Like maps to the stores. Also, info about different grooming options (e.g., types of hair dos), so people have already made their choices when they come in.

Exercise: Dog parks - Owner goals

You’re making a Web site for the W00fton County Parks Department. It helps county residents learn about the four dog parks in the county.

What would the site’s owners want from the site? Make a list. Enter it below.

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We’ve talked about site owners. But what about the people who use the site?

User goals

Let’s talk about why someone would visit a site – and stay on it for a while.

We’ll stick to business sites, like DD. Let’s talk about three things.

  • Solve a problem
  • Aesthetics
  • Usability

Solve a problem

People come to a site because it does something useful for them. It helps them do a task, or solve a problem.

For a business site, it can help to think about different stages of the buying decision.

  • Early stage customers are hunting for general information about what types of products or services will solve a problem they have.
  • Middle stage customers have chosen the type of product or service they want, and are comparing vendors (businesses that sell the product or service).
  • Late stage customers have chosen a vendor, and want to make a purchase, set up an appointment, or whatever.

Let’s take Sally, for example. She’s a potential Delightful Dogs customer.

  • Early stage: “I’m feeling…, well, that I don’t look my best. What can I do about it?”
  • Middle stage: “I’ve decided to be groomed once every two weeks. Which businesses in the area offer that service? What does it cost? How good are their stylists?”
  • Late stage: “I want to get a geurré do at Delightful Dogs. How do I arrange that?”

So site users have tasks they want to do. But if a site makes a task too unpleasant, they’ll go elsewhere.

You’ll hear the term look and feel. Different people mean different things by look and feel, but they generally have two things in mind: aesthetics and usability.


Aesthetics is about how visually attractive or beautiful a site is. Different people like different things, but most of us have a shared sense of site beauty.

Exercise: Aesthetics

Find five Web sites you think are attractive. Put their URLs below.

For each one, explain what you like about the look. Colors? Typography? What moods/feelings/emotions do you think the site designer was going for?

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The book The Principles of Beautiful Web Design is worth looking at, if you want to make attractive sites.


Usability is about how easy it is to use a site. For example, text that’s hard to read makes a site less usable.

An example. Here’s a field from a medical questionnaire:


What do you think?


“Weight?” Of me?


What else would it be?


I don’t know. But I’d have to stop and think.

What unit?




Pounds? Kilos?


Oh. I can’t tell.


Here’s another version. Any better?

Your weight when dry, with no collar. E.g, 32.


There’s the unit, pounds. The field is shorter, too. It gives you a hint, that the data is short as well.


Right! And the example helps.

These are small changes, but they make a difference. Remember, just because a field is clear to you, doesn’t mean it’s clear to everyone.

Exercise: Dog parks - User goals

The people who would use a site about W00fton county dog parks. What would they want from the site?

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  • Site owners want people to be aware of their brand, and know about the products and services.
  • Owners want site users to do something, like print a coupon, or buy a product.
  • Owners often use Web sites to reduce service costs.
  • Users come to Web sites to complete tasks.
  • Users was sites that are attractive and usable.
  • Users want sites to be aesthetically pleasing, and usable.

What now?

Let’s work on goals for your eMe.