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Website Planning

Tips on creating a great website plan
"If you don't know where you're going, you could end up someplace else." Yogi Berra

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Thursday, August 12, 2004

Website Planning

"If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else." Yogi Berra

Planning is not easy. The process of thinking, analyzing, considering and weighing options is hard work.

Planning is not particularly rewarding for many, because the planning result is intangible. The planning results are the documents, the diagrams, or the drawings. It is not the tangible creation that rewards the senses. We are not so likely to call our family over to see our website plan, but we will certainly be likely to call over our family to see our website.

Planning is difficult when undertaking a project like building a website because there are usually parts of the project we do not know how to do. How are we supposed to plan something when we do not know how to do it? The only real way to figure out all the unknowns is to actually build the website.

Planning cannot anticipate serendipity. It is exciting when creating a web page to discover a technique or a process and then include that technique or process immediately into the website. When you find a script that just does the coolest thing, it is fun to add it immediately to the web site. We sometimes feel guilty that we strayed from the plan, or find the discovery process so exciting we feel we have betrayed the plan.

It is hard to know when the plan is complete. Planning can continue to greater and greater levels of detail. A colleague of mind is fond of saying the planning is done when the planning deadline is reached.

Planning creates anxiety. Projects are judged whether they come in on time and on budget. What does that really mean? It means that they were completed in the time and with the money that was planned. Project Management too often becomes the way we validate how good the plan was.

So why plan? Because creating a website will be much easier and the website will be more effective if we first create a plan. We will anticipate that planning is difficult, that we have to plan things we do not know, that serendipitous things will arise not in the plan, and that the plan will change as we go along. But to create the website we want, we will plan the website first.

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