Planning Your Website

You may be tempted to dive into your new WordPress site and start entering content.

However, if you do that, you may find later that you have to reorganize and possibly re‐write your content.

A little planning at the beginning goes a long way.

Who Will Visit Your Site?

Spend a bit of time considering who you want to visit your site.  The most effective websites are tailored to specific audiences, to make it easy for them to quickly locate the information they want.

Audiences could include:

For a research site: For a student organization:
  • potential grad students
  • professional peers
  • potential members
  • existing members
  • potential donors

What Standard Pages Do You Want on Your Site?

Consider what standard pages you want for your website.  Here are some examples:

Research Site Student Organization
  • Home
  • About (might be named for the faculty
  • member)
  • Research
  • Opportunities
  • Publications
  • Teaching
  • Prospective Students
  • Contact
  • Home
  • Activities
  • Meeting Minutes
  • Elections
  • Job Links
  • Mission
  • Officers
  • Related Sites
  • Volunteering

Will You Pull in Outside Content?

To keep the site fresh and encourage visitors to return, many sites pull in content from another website.  The content appears inside a block, as though it was part of your site.  The technology is called an RSS feed.  Examples include:

  • Feeds from an existing Google calendar of events
  • Feeds from a parent organization.
  • Feeds from a scientific journal.
  • Feeds from a blog you write at another site, e.g. Blogger or Blogspot.

Tip:  To find out if a site has an RSS feed, search the site for RSS.  You can then email the link to before your WordPress tutorial session.

How Will You Organize Your Content?

WordPress makes it very easy to quickly create content.

That can be a mixed blessing.  If you go overboard creating content, your visitors may drown in it trying to find the one piece of information they’re looking for.


Most sites, depending on the theme used, allow at least two menus: a main horizontal menu and a smaller resource menu above right of the main menu.

The more modern themes only allow one level of drop-downs – the parent entry that displays all the time, and a child entry that displays when you hover the cursor over it and/or click the parent entry.  Older designs allowed more levels of child menus, but due to the rise of mobile devices, menus got shortened to a single level.

A two-level menu lets you organize your content in a hierarchy.

Be careful of adding too many long menu titles at the parent level; if the menu exceeds the screen width, on the most current CALS theme ( A UW Theme ) the menu will disappear and be replaced by a three-bar mobile icon next to the site title.

Many sites have the home entry and the far left, and the contact entry at the far right, with the entries in between either organized alphabetically or in order of importance.

If you have a number of pieces of content, you can create an affinity diagram – write the name of each piece of content on a sticky note, and then lay out the sticky notes.  Step back and consider them, and patterns will start to emerge.  Group the sticky notes together and come up with a parent menu title for them.  These can become your parent/child menu entries.


To deal with a third level of pages not listed on the menu, you can use subpages – you create a parent/child relationship between the pages, and turn on the navigation in the side bar to display the subpages.  See this page on the HR site for an example:

Will You Write a Blog?  Do You Have the Time?

Blogs can require a lot of effort.   If you start a blog and then pause in posting, or stop altogether, visitors may look at the date of your last blog entry and decide the site has been abandoned.

Will You Include Photos on Your Website?

If you want to include photos on your website, consider:

  • where you will acquire the photos (do NOT copy them off the Web!!!!)
  • where you will use the photo ‐ on a particular page, or in the header slides on the homepage
  • if the photo will be used in the banner, is it the right size?
  • does the photo need to be prepped ‐ cropped, adjusted for contrast, focus, color

Note: WordPress has issues managing large number of photos (e.g. hundreds).  If you plan on having large numbers of photos, please contact us to discuss other solutions.

Will You Use a Slide Show on Your Homepage?

One way to add “sparkle” to your homepage is to create an animated image slider through our through the Header Slides feature.

Header slides can also include video, your latest blog posts, a site search box, or an RSS content feed.

Will You Need to Store Large Numbers of Files, e.g. PDF or Word Documents?

If you need to store large numbers (hundreds) of files, please contact us to discuss other solutions.

Will You Use an Event Calendar?

You can also create an events calendar and maintain it with WordPress, and display the calendar in the sidebar.

Will You Include a Staff Directory?

CALS current theme has the ability to display a staff directory.  To learn more about this feature, see Add a Directory in our How-To section.

How Will Visitors Contact You?

Consider where you want your contact information to appear.  A few ideas:

  • a Contact page (highly recommended ‐ it’s the first place visitors look)
  • in the footer (not the greatest idea as people generally don’t scroll down that far on a page)
  • in the right sidebar (OK, but it takes up space, and will often get pushed below all the other content when displayed on a mobile device.)

You can also create a contact form to gather specific information.   This will hide your email address and reduce junk mail.

Who Will Need Access to the Site to Update It?

When we set up the site, we will need the names and NetIDs of all people you want to be able to edit the site, and the level of access you want them to have, e.g. Admin (full) or Editor (regular).

Do You Have a Domain Name in Mind?

The domain name is the name visitors enter in the browser to find your site.

We can create sites that end in

If you want a domain name without .cals in it, and do not already have that domain name on a site you are replacing, you will need to request it through the DoIT hostmaster.