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Chapter 2: Site Analysis

Contents of Book Chapter

  • Clarify the Organization's Goals
  • Identify the Target Audience
  • Identify Target Audience Goals
  • Determine Site Constraints
  • Determine Site Content
  • Define Site Architecture

Chapter Objectives

(Courtesy Jim Albright, Northeastern Illinois University. Thank you, Jim!)

At the end of this chapter, the reader should be able to:

  • Explain the concept of analysis and how it relates to other tasks in the project life cycle.
  • Identify and describe the six major tasks of site-wide analysis.
  • Describe the process for clarifying an organization’s goals.
  • Define scope creep.
  • Identify and describe the three basic categories of organizational goals for commercial web sites.
  • Describe the characteristics that need to be defined during the process of identifying a target audience.
  • Describe the process of identifying target audience goals.
  • Identify and describe site constraints.
  • Identify the three goals in the development of a web site.
  • Define churn.
  • Describe how to create a sticky site.
  • Explain information architecture.
  • Describe the aspects of a site architecture.
  • Identify and describe the tasks involved in creating a site structure.



  • The Elements of Style, 4th edition, by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White. New York: MacMillan, 1999.
  • Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace, 9th edition, by Joseph M. Williams. New York: Longman, 2006.
  • Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose, by Constance Hale. New York City: Broadway Books, 2001.

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Information Architecture

  • Site Analysis form (in .rtf format so that you can edit it to suit your needs).

  • Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web, by Christina Wodtke. Indianapolis: New Riders, 2003.

  • Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites, by Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville. Sebastopol, California: O’Reilly, 2006.

  • The Design of Sites, 2nd edition, by Douglas K. Van Duyne, James A. Landay, and Jason I. Hong.  Addison-Wesley Professional, 2006.

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(mouseover answer boxes to reveal answers)

Check Your Reading Comprehension

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Critical Thinking Exercises (long answer)

Use vocabulary and concepts from the text to answer the following questions. Provide examples to document your explanation.

Hands-on Exercises

  • Pick an existing web site on the web. Answer each of the following questions:
    • What seems to be the purpose of the site?
    • What seems to be the target audience?
    • What tasks would the target audience want to perform?
    • What can you detect about the architecture?
  • Pick an existing web site on the web and evaluate it based on the analysis checklist at the end of the chapter. What did the designers do right, and what did they do wrong?
  • Surf the web to find a site that has “killer” content, and another one that has poor content. Compare and contrast what the “killer” site did well that the other site didn’t do so well. What could be done to improve the content?
  • Pick any public access web and view the source code on the home page. Look for file names embedded in the code. What appear to be the site naming and subdirectory conventions? Do they seem to be appropriate? If not, what might be a better way to organize the site on the server?
  • Revisit a web site that you choose to evaluate in Chapter 1. Enhance your prior evaluation by checking the site against the checklist in the chapter summary of this chapter. Be as specific as possible in your evaluation. Save your evaluation for use later, as we encounter appropriate chapters.

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Ongoing Case Study Exercise

  • Choose one from the following list of possible web sites to perform the analysis tasks detailed in the questions to follow. In all cases, test your design against the checklist in the summary and ask your peers for critical review. Revise your solutions to accommodate those critical reviews. Keep in mind that the analysis deliverables you are currently producing will most certainly be revised again and again, as the site evolves in later stages.
    • A site selling products for newborn babies and their parents.
    • A site promoting a children’s amusement park, catering to children under the age of twelve.
    • A site selling fishing equipment.
    • A site selling women’s designer clothing.
    • A site promoting tourism for your home town or another city of your choice.
    • A site promoting a non-profit environmental preservation organization or another non-profit organization of your choice.
    • A site promoting a grunge rock band.
    • A site promoting an oldies rock band that specializes in tunes from the late sixties and early seventies.
    • A site selling primitive antiques.
    • A site selling garden plants and supplies.
    • A site advertising an Italian restaurant.
    • A site promoting a small but trendy modern art gallery.
    • A site promoting a large, traditional art museum.
    • A site promoting a museum of natural history.
    • A site for a campus organization of your choice.
    • Your own personal web site.
    • Another site of your choice.
  • Determine at least two possible goals for the site.
  • Determine, in great detail, the target audience for the site. 
  • List the tasks the target audience might like to perform on the site. Create a use case for one or more of the major tasks.
  • Determine the content that is appropriate for the site. Incorporate value-added content that will entice your visitors to return again and again. List specific elements that might support the content, such as photographs, charts, or drawings.
  • Design a site architecture (categories, labels, and structure) for the site.

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| 4:Layout | 5: Color | 6: Graphics | 7: Typography | 8: Forms |