Plan a website

Level: Site Owner; Site Admin

Putting a website together is a multi-faceted task where goals, audiences, content, tools and design all need to be considered. Oxford Mosaic provides hosting, an extensive editing toolkit and a range of out-of-the-box design options. Here we provide an overview of the elements needed to deliver an effective and engaging website, and where inputs in each area are supplied when building a site with Mosaic.

The effort needed in each area will vary greatly, depending on the size of the site and what sort of user experiences it needs to provide. The Mosaic platform can be used to build engaging sites for a range of purposes from small, specialist sites for research projects, or main sites for a department, college or museum, to a home on the web for student societies. Thinking about how each element applies will be valuable for all sites in creating an effective web presence for their use case.

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Input: Site Owner, + local unit administrative and IT staff

Who will own the site? Who needs to approve its creation? Is it likely to cost anything, and if so, how will this cost be covered? Who needs to be involved in creating the site and how will their time be paid for?

  • All sites, as a minimum, need to identify:
    • Site Owner: sets-up site, leads (or does all of) the content build, responsible for day-to-day content maintenance, first point of contact for queries
    • Approver: responsible for regulatory/policy compliance (e.g. copyright, accessibility) and approving budget
  • Projects to create larger sites may have optionally in addition (+):
    • Steering Group, User Group, Project Manager/Digital Producer, other site administrators and content editors
    • Input from specialists: business analyst, information architect, designer, copywriter, media producer

Guidance on central policies affecting web site management is given throughout this site. You should also investigate what local policies in your department, college or unit may apply.

Input: Site Owner, +Project Manager, + Business Analyst

Any significant size web project should start with a phase to investigate the below areas. Small projects will also benefit from thinking about these questions before beginning their build.

  • Goals and Objectives: what is the purpose of the site? How will this take forward your work?
  • Benefits to be delivered: how will the users of the site benefit from it? How does this support your objectives?
  • Audiences and use cases: what are the different groups of users who will engage with your site and what are the specific tasks they will want to accomplish with it? Larger sites may find it helpful to develop Personas to help them think through user scenarios from the perspectives of their audience groups.
  • Functionality: what interactions do the users need to be able to undertake on the site? Are there specific things it needs to be able to do?
  • Technical tool/hosting: find out about the hosting and functionality offered by Mosaic on this site, attend a demo, and explore the roadmap for future development. Contact the Mosaic team to discuss any queries. Also, give early consideration to the appropriate domain name to use with the site.
  • Budget, plan and schedule: set baselines for your project
  • Risks in delivering or maintaining the site: what do you need to keep an eye on?
  • Site creation and maintenance strategy: once the site is built and launched, who will maintain it in the short- and longer-term? Does the budget address this?

The Public Affairs Directorate provides advice and resources on making effective websites, along with a case study of the project to build the website.

IT Services’ Research Support team can provide specific assistance to research projects wishing to use Mosaic for their research project website.

Input: Site Owner, Content owners, + Information Architect, + Copywriter

Web content must be relevant, timely, succinct, easy to find and tailored for consumption on digital platforms. Think about the following to master your site content:

  • Content audit: identify content to be created, updated, relocated or binned
  • Information architecture: plan your site map and page navigation, user journeys, and content categories (taxonomies)
  • Content (re)writing: plug gaps and tailor content
  • Search optimisation: help search engines find and make sense of your site content

Input: Site Owner, + Designer, + Media Producer

The fun part - developing a design for your site. Mosaic supports a range of options for site design, from out-of-the-box themes to highly configurable sets of options for tailoring a design of your own. Before commencing site building you need to identify the design elements your site will use.

  • Site theme, look-and-feel, colours: review the pre-set themes or identify custom fonts, colours and other design elements to tailor the look-and-feel of your site
  • Layouts and templating: consider which content types, page layouts and widget display styles the page schemes for your site will use, e.g. how will you present different kinds of pages for events, news, people and section landing pages.

Mosaic layouts are responsive for cross-device rendering.

The University has a Branding Toolkit which provides guidelines on branding websites within the domain. The digital style guide illustrates how this has been implemented on the site in a manner to support brand consistency. Mosaic supports implementation of the branding guidelines and also allows other options where these may be relevant, e.g. for cross-institutional websites where the University of Oxford is the web-hosting partner.

Input: Site Owner, Site editors, Mosaic platform and Service

Plan fruition. The nuts and bolts stage of setting up your site and loading content.

  • Request a site: the Mosaic team will provision an empty site space on receipt of an appropriately authorised request. (This can be done at an earlier stage so that you can familiarise yourself with Mosaic.)
  • Configure the website: implement your design in Mosaic. Select a theme or set the font, colour and other site design elements. Select content options to tailor the editing toolkit to output the page schemes you’ve designed. Save these as templates to simplify content creation for site editors.
  • Add content to the site
  • Define checkpoints at the start, middle and pre-launch stages to ensure that planning covers what is needed and delivery is on-track. You can request our help at checkpoint reviews, which is particularly advised if you are working with an external agency.
  • Technical development of new features: if we agreed to develop new functionality in Mosaic for your site to use as a result of earlier discussion in the Discovery phase, we’ll build it here and help you to implement it on your site

Input: Site Owner and stakeholders, IT Services network team, Mosaic team

Before launch, review the site and, where relevant, get signoff. See our checklist to ensure a smooth go-live of your site.

Plan ahead for the communications to inform key people about the site launch and be prepared to respond to early feedback they supply on the site.

Break-out the bubbly!

Input: Site Owner and editors, Mosaic Service

You look after the content:

  • Maintain and update content: using the editing interface or Quickedit, for simple changes.
  • Monitor and analyse traffic: using the platform Site Statistics or your Google Analytics tracking account. Use this information to refine your content and site architecture.

We take care of the technical back-end:

  • Regular backups
  • Security patches and upgrades
  • Ongoing release of functional enhancements: keeping the platform tools current so you can improve your site as the web evolves

See our SLA for more information.