It All Starts With A Plan
Every successful project starts with a plan. We have developed a procedure to ensure that your project moves through the various stages of development smoothly.
Before our first meeting, we request you complete our Website Project Planner. Completing the Planner will help us and you get an idea of the look, the scope, and the objectives of your business’ site.
Understanding Your Business
Understanding your business and your brand it the critical first step. We work with you to clearly understand your current needs, long-term goals, and the competitive environment in which your business operates. We define how we will assess the success of the project. This is also when we will outline the initial schedule and budget for the project.
Develop a Technical Brief
It is critical to the success of the project that the technical aspects of your website are determined at the beginning. We ensure that we understand the technological requirements of your site. This includes determining:
- The hosting environment: Do you currently have a hosting company or will you need us to set up an account for you? If you prefer open-source Web products, we recommend a Linux based hosting environment.
- Content Management System (CMS): Do you want a CMS so that you can manage your content updates internally, or do you want us to do the ongoing website maintenance? For small businesses, we recommend WordPress as a user-friendly and affordable option.
- Private site areas: Will you require a password-protected area for your website? Will users be able to set up and manage accounts?
- Forms: Will there be information-gathering or other types of forms on the site, and how will the data from the forms be handled (i.e. information sent via email or handled by a customer relations management system)?
- Blogs: Will you want a blog or multiple blogs on your website, and how will they look and function? How will this be administered?
- Threaded discussion forums: Will you want a discussion forum, either for internal use or for users of your products or services? How will this function and how will this be administered?
- Social networking features: Do you wish to have social networking features such as file sharing, user-generated content, ratings, voting, etc?
- E-commerce: Do you want the ability to take payments online via credit card payments, Paypal, Amazon, etc? How will this function?
- RSS feeds: Will you want users to be able to “subscribe” to your Web content via RSS?
Information Architecture & Site Map
Once the technical brief is developed, we work with you to identify all the content to be present at launch of the website and how to best present that information to the user. Once the information architecture is developed, we develop a site map – a graphical representation of the website’s structure, outlining directories and files. For larger, more complex websites, we create a wireframe of your site, a design-free navigable site that allows you to test the effectiveness of the site structure. Revisions are made to the site map or wireframe until a final architecture is agreed upon.
Integrating SEO into Your Website’s Structure
When determining the structure of the website, we consider the “high value” keywords and key phrases for your company. With these keywords and key phrases, we can integrate them into your websites directory and file naming. We use standard coding practices to ensure that your website is easily and accurately indexed by search engines and that the search engines can clearly determine the level of importance of various pieces of content on your website.
Develop a Creative Brief
Using the Planner as a starting point, we determine your specific design requirements – what other websites do you like or dislike, and why? What sort of page layout do you prefer? Do you have an existing color palette for your brand? Do you have a logo or other imagery used in your marketing?
This brief is then handed off to our designers who create a first round of designs for consideration. These designs are then revised through client feedback until the designs are finalized.
Implementation & Testing
At this point, the project starts to come together. We do the coding for the site. Once the site is built, the files are uploaded to a test site for usability testing, cross-platform issues, and functionality. Any problems or issues are identified and solutions determined.
Launch & Follow-up
Once all the testing is complete, we put the site online at the specified URL. If you are going to maintain the site in-house, we conduct client training. The site is then registered with the major search engines and site performance is monitored.