Design

Design

Imagining a new online space

This page will guide you through how to start planning and designing a website, including how to imagine your new online space.

We recommend completing this page before starting the “Build” path, so that you have a clear plan for what you want to get out of your website which will make building it much easier.

Ways of thinking about your online space…

Coventry.Domains provides web hosting space and a subdomain (web address). An easy way to understand what hosting, domains and websites are to think of web hosting as a plot of land.

Having web hosting is like having a plot of land or a physical space. A website is like a house to be built on the land. And a domain name (the main part of a web address or URL) is like having a postal address.

Now that you have your own space on the web, what do you want to do with it?

If this is your first time designing your own online space, instead of thinking “what is the biggest, shiniest website I can build?” (or feeling like you have to build something big and shiny!), start by planning towards a small prototype website.

Imagining your new space…

Designing a website can be an abstract process, where it is difficult to know what is possible or what the space should look like until you start building. Using metaphors to describe your new space can help you articulate and pin down what you want to do, and support you to flex your creative thinking and problem solving skills.

Imagine your new web space is an empty plot of land. What would you build there? Who would be invited in? What would you want to keep there?

There are other metaphors that might help you think about how to best use your web hosting, or what kind of space or website you would like to build. Maybe your website is a cloud, a boat, a balloon, or a shed at the bottom of the garden. Click on the tabs below to see other ways of imagining the potential of your space.

A white detached house in the middle of a fieldThink of your website as a house. Your website will consist of both content (your images, articles and other work) and the structure and style of the world you build for your content. The rooms of the house are the pages and spaces within your website. Think about the arrangement of rooms, the architecture, and the purpose of each room. What does each room look like? How do people move through the house? What are the spatial juxtapositions between each of the rooms?

A room with a sofa, bookcase, and coffee tableThink of your website as a room. A room is cosy with finite space. But a room is also flexible: you can build temporary partitions, change the layout of furniture, and create new entrances to other rooms with links. You can change the content of the room depending on the occasion. You can live in the room, and once you get bored of the wallpaper you can redecorate.

A shelf with ornaments, books and plants onThink of your website as a shelf. Maybe a shelf is easier to think about than a whole room or house. What do you want to place on the shelf? Think of a small number of things that you would like to place here. Think about the juxtapositions, combinations and ordering of the objects on the shelf. Do you want to take something off the shelf and replace it with something else? Will objects on the shelf become old and need to be replaced?

A potted plantThink of your website as a plant. Plants are organic: they grow slowly and on their own. Your website can be the same, so long as you pick a good idea seed and nurture it. Different parts of the plant might grow at different rates or in different directions. In a couple of years, it may grow and bear fruit, if you are lucky. The fruit could be friends, reputation, work or something else.

Think of your website as a shed. A shed sits on it’s own, separate from a house that might share the same plot of land. It can be cobbled together out of old wood, and be as wonky or sturdy as you like. Sheds are great as an extra space where you can hide away at the bottom of the garden. You can use it as storage space or a workshop to make things and test ideas.

Imagining your new space…

Imagine your new web space is an empty plot of land. What would you build there? Who would be invited in? What would you want to keep there?

There are other metaphors that might help you think about how to best use your web hosting, or what kind of space or website you would like to build. See other ways of imagining the potential of your space below.

House

A white detached house in the middle of a field

Think of your website as a house. Your website will consist of both content (your images, articles and other work) and the structure and style of the world you build for your content. The rooms of the house are the pages and spaces within your website. Think about the arrangement of rooms, the architecture, and the purpose of each room. What does each room look like? How do people move through the house? What are the spatial juxtapositions between each of the rooms?

Room

A room with a sofa, bookcase, and coffee tableThink of your website as a room. A room is cosy with finite space. But a room is also flexible: you can build temporary partitions, change the layout of furniture, and create new entrances to other rooms with links. You can change the content of the room depending on the occasion. You can live in the room, and once you get bored of the wallpaper you can redecorate.

Shelf

A shelf with ornaments, books and plants onThink of your website as a shelf. Maybe a shelf is easier to think about than a whole room or house. What do you want to place on the shelf? Think of a small number of things that you would like to place here. Think about the juxtapositions, combinations and ordering of the objects on the shelf. Do you want to take something off the shelf and replace it with something else? Will objects on the shelf become old and need to be replaced?

Plant

A potted plantThink of your website as a plant. Plants are organic: they grow slowly and on their own. Your website can be the same, so long as you pick a good idea seed and nurture it. Different parts of the plant might grow at different rates or in different directions. In a couple of years, it may grow and bear fruit, if you are lucky. The fruit could be friends, reputation, work or something else.

Shed

Think of your website as a shed. A shed sits on it’s own, separate from a house that might share the same plot of land. It can be cobbled together out of old wood, and be as wonky or sturdy as you like. Sheds are great as an extra space where you can hide away at the bottom of the garden. You can use it as storage space or a workshop to make things and test ideas.

Think about…

Other things to consider before building your website include:

Content

  • Are you publishing content about yourself / your practise / your work / a specific project / your thoughts and reflections?
  • Will there be other people working with you to create and maintain this website?
  • What type of content will it include – articles / data / photographs / videos / artwork / learning resources?

Audience

  • Who do you want to visit the website – peers / colleagues / friends / community members / employers / course leads / the public?
  • How will your audience find your website?
  • Does your audience have specific needs and how can you create a website that is suitable for them?

Structure

  • How will your website be structured? Will it be a single page or multiple pages?
  • Will you post blogs or articles?
  • How will the audience navigate their way through your website?

Words

  • What kinds of language and words are suitable for your content and audience?
  • How can words be used to better engage your audience?
  • What words would best name the different areas of your website to help your audience navigate the different areas?

Images

  • How will you use images to engage your audience?
  • What images are relevant to your content and audience?
  • Do you want to use your own images or find suitable images elsewhere?

Design your website with paper!

Below are a selection activities that will help you design your website. Click on each activity to view the resource, and then download and print to start designing your website.