This initial stage is where you define your goals and objectives for the Web site and begin to collect and analyze the information you'll need to justify the budget and resources required. This is also the time to define the scope of the site content, the interactive functionality and technology support required, and the depth and breadth of information resources that you will need to fill out the site and meet your reader's expectations. If you are contracting out the production of the Web site, you will also need to interview and select a site design firm. Ideally, your site designers should be involved as soon as possible in the planning discussions.
Not every site will require consideration of every item below. Developers within corporations or other large enterprises can often count on substantial in-house technology support when creating new Web sites. If you are on your own as an individual or small business, you may need to contract with various technology and design vendors to assemble everything you'll need to create a substantial content site or small e-commerce site.
A site that is "everyone's responsibility" can quickly become an orphan. A maintenance plan should specify who is responsible for the content of each page in the site. To maintain consistent editorial, graphic design, and management policies you'll also need one person to act as the editor of the overall Web site. The site editor's duties will vary according to how you choose to maintain your site. Some editors do all the work of maintaining site content, relieving their coworkers of the need to deal directly with Web page editing. Other editors coordinate and edit the work of many contributors who work directly on the site pages. If multiple people contribute to site maintenance, the site editor may choose to edit pages after they are created and posted to avoid becoming a bottleneck in the communications process. However, high-profile public pages or pages that contain very important content should be vetted by the editor before public posting.
In addition to ensuring editorial quality, a site editor must also ensure that the content of the site reflects the policies of the enterprise, is consistent with local appropriate use policies, and does not contain material that violates copyright laws. Many people who post pictures, cartoons, music files, or written material copied from other sites on their own sites do not understand copyrights and the legal risks in using copyrighted materials inappropriately. A site editor is often an institution's first line of defense against an expensive lawsuit over the misuse of protected material.