Our web design and development process

So you have an idea for a website but you are not sure what’s involved? There is a lot that needs to happen in order to manifest your idea online. A typical web project, regardless of its complexity, can usually be broken down into the following stages.

  1. Information gathering
    This is the first and possibly the most important step. We will ask you questions in order to determine the goals of the project and how the web can be utilised to achieve those goals. Some things to consider are:

    • Purpose – what is the purpose of your intended website? Do you want to deliver information to your users? Do you provide a service? Do you intend to sell products?
    • Goals – The main reason most businesses go online is to make money or perhaps you just have information to share?
    • Target Audience – What is the age, gender and interests of those who you plan to engage with? These kinds of factors are important because they will directly affect your design (e.g. a corporate website isn’t likely to appeal to teenagers).
    • Content – what kind of information will people that visit your site be looking for? Is there a particular product or service you intend to highlight?
    • Special requirements – Are there special features you want created that you haven’t seen elsewhere?
  2. Planning
    Now that we know a bit about you and what you want to accomplish online, we start to plan your website. We begin by constructing a site map which is a diagram outlining the main topics of your site. It’s a logical representation of the content that will be on the site and is crucial for building a user-friendly navigation system. At this stage we will also discuss what technologies you will require. Do you need interactive forms so people can contact you? Do you need a content management system that will allow you to edit your own site? Do you need ecommerce facilities to enable an online store?Will you require web hosting? Will you require an SSL certificate if you plan on having secure pages such as those responsible for receiving credit card information? We can organise these for you as part of the process. Now that we have a rough idea of what is required in terms of development and hosting we will provide you with a quote for the work that is to be completed.
  3. Design
    At this stage we require that you provide us any photos, fonts and logos that you would like to include in your design. We will produce a brief document outlining your requirements and build wireframes to help visualise the end result. We encourage responsive designs that scale on to mobile phones and tablet devices, and the design brief and mockups will reflect that. We will then relay this information on your behalf to one of our affiliated designers, or a design service like 99designs. The designers will create a number of prototypes. From there you can pick your favourites and decide which ones you want to improve on, and you can highlight particular elements of designs that you like in order to mix and match the best possible one. There will be a lot of interaction between you and us at this point in order to finetune the mockups.

    Note: It is possible to bypass the design phase if you are happy to use third party templates but you need to understand that there will still be modifications required to match your brand. It’s also less likely that you will end up with a website that best represents your unique business like you would when using a custom design.

  4. Development
    Development can be broken down into two more steps:

    • Step 1 – We take the images that were created as part of the design process and turn them into functional HTML/CSS (the basic building blocks of a website). This is called the ‘cut out’. We often work with third parties at this stage to ensure it’s delivered in a timely fashion. At this point you will have a good idea of the look and feel of the final product but it won’t be interactive. Scripts, forms, and others types of functionality occur in the next step.
    • Step 2 – This is where the bulk of the project is completed. Here we take that HTML/CSS and put it into a template/structure that your desired content management system will understand. We begin by building all of the shared elements such as the header, footer and other elements that exist on all the pages of your site. Then we begin with the homepage (landing page) and continue on to the internal pages. We will include any basic content (if there is any) as we go. We install necessary modules, enabling the shopping cart, contact forms, slideshows etc. We will also build any custom functionality that is required.

    This process occurs on our local development servers. Again we will always keep you in the loop during this stage, giving you ample opportunity to make refinements to the design/functionality if necessary.

    If this is a new project we will create accounts with third parties (e.g. Google Analytics,  Webmaster tools and MailChimp (or a similar service) if you plan on doing email marketing).

    During this time, you should be preparing more content, product descriptions, images etc.

  5. Testing and Deployment
    We begin feature testing to confirm that your site works as expected. We validate your site to confirm that it meets current web standards. We then cross-browser test, e.g. testing your website in different web browsers and on mobile phones/tablet devices. We fix any bugs that we have found and add the finishing touches.We then require your final approval. Once you are happy we will then upload the completed files to your web server and display a temporary landing page while we set up your site in this environment (trying our very best to minimise the down time of any existing applications). You will need to provide us with any existing hosting information, if any, such as FTP details, existing CMS logins, hosting control panel, database passwords, etc. The final testing is the environmental testing, making sure that migrating the website has not caused any issues. Once all testing is complete we take down the landing page and make the site live to the public.
  6. Live
    At this stage we hand over any documentation and source code that you require. We are also happy to do onsite training if necessary. Have all requirements been met? If so, your project is complete. We trust you are happy with the finished product.
  7. Maintenance
    Once your site is live it’s likely never finished. You will always be adding more content and refining things. We are happy to remain in this process at a reduced rate depending on how often you need to make changes. If you plan on being very hands on with your site, we try and set it up so that it requires very little interaction from us (except maybe for incremental updates to the CMS).

What we don’t do

As much as we pride ourselves on our versatility there are a few things we can’t include as part of the process.

  1. SEO
    We do optimise your content as we go, using title tags, meta tags (keyword, description), proper use of heading tags, alt tags on images, title tags on links, and we will submit an xml sitemap to Google. But ongoing SEO strategies like content refinement, link building and social media strategies fall outside the scope of the project. We do however have contacts in those relevant fields that we can put you in touch with if you require.

Hopefully that answers the majority of the questions you might have regarding the design and development process. If you are interested in getting started or have any other enquiries feel free to get in contact with us.

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