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Defining website goals


This is a lesson on setting goals for website development. After students have surveyed students, students will evaluate the survey results to determine what content will be featured on the journalism website. What media (video/images) and social media will they focus on, links to publications, links back to website and also to publication, and if they will focus on specific advertisers that students visit.


  • Students will research best practices of presentation and technology for a news website.
  • Students will develop architecture and strategies to maximize user satisfaction with a website.
  • Students will define the nature and purpose of the website.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.11-12.8 Evaluate the hypotheses, data, analysis, and conclusions in a science or technical text, verifying the data when possible and corroborating or challenging conclusions with other sources of information.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.5 Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.11-12.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the specific task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation.


50 minutes (with optional research extension)


Class set: Survey Results worksheet

Class set: Group Evaluation

Lesson step-by-step

Day 1

1. Group work — 20-30 minutes

Students will begin to conceptualize and define objectives and content for the website.  Students should start to create an overall list of goals for the website (you will learn about some possibilities you will need to consider – such as costs, adding plugins for media, hosting, etc.).

Use the Survey Results worksheet as a foundation to start creating a list of items that should be utilized or considered when developing the website.   Students should work in groups of 2-3 to create a list of the top items discovered from their poll/survey. Feel free to modify the form or add to it.  On the 2nd page, you should also add a list of other ideas/top priorities for the website.

Once the groups have created their list, come back together as a class to develop a list of top priorities.

2. Refining ideas — 30 minutes

As a class, start to refine your priorities using the questions below. All students should take notes, even if you’re brainstorming on a whiteboard.

What content will be on site?

  • Define what the key purpose is for the website.


  • What are key stories/content that you hope to feature?

Use of media

  • Define information types and functionality
  • Use of social media

Links to other publications

  • What relationships will this website have to other journalism publications?
  • Brainstorm and start talking about conceptualization of website

Research and development

  • What are other high school journalism programs using?

Create sitemap for architecture and navigation

  • Increase readership
  • Advertising

3. Optional extension — 1-3 class periods

Students can also start exploring other student journalism websites to better refine their own website vision. A list of many scholastic websites is available at:

As students browse the websites, instruct them to keep a list of what they like/dislike about each site, including the type of content, visuals, layout, fonts, colors, interactive elements, sections, tabs, etc.

Maps, thumbnails, storyboards and rough outlines will be the next phase for constructing the website.