There are a number of steps in the website design and development process, starting with gathering the initial information, to conceptual design of your website, the development; and finally to a maintenance support contract to keep your website up to date and current.
Every company may vary the process but our belief is keeping it simple as the basics will always be the same.
- Getting everything together
- Testing (Alpha, Beta) and Delivery
Stage One: Getting everything together
The initial step in designing your website is to gather as much information on what you need. Many aspects should be taken into consideration in creating the look and feel of your website.
Our first step is actually the most essential, it involves a solid understanding of your company’s brand from a grass root level. It involves a great understanding of you and your team – what the business goals, targets and dreams are, and how the website can be used to help achieve these goals.
It is important that your web designer starts with a lot of questions to help us understand yourself, the business and your requirements on the web and in a website.
What to consider:
- The website Purpose
What is the purpose of the website? Is it strictly informative, promote a service, sell products… ?
- The website Goals
What do you hope in accomplishing by building this website? What are the common goals = make money + share information.
- Web Target Audience
Is there a specific targeted group of users that will help you reach these goals? It is useful to picture the “ideal” client you want visiting your web site. Consider the age, sex or interests – this will help later on to determine the best look and feel or your website.
- Content of your Website
What kind of information will they be looking for when coming to your website? Is it specific information, a particular service or product, a search engine or online ordering…?
Stage Two: Planning your website
Using the information gathered its time to get a plan together for your website. Its time to talk site-maps and develop a skeleton of pages that will be required.
The site map is used to list all main topic areas of the website, as well as categories and sub-topics, if applicable. This serves as a base point as to what content will be required on the website, and is essential to designing a consistent, very easy to understand, intuitive navigation. The end-user of the website, must be kept in mind when developing your website. Remember, after all, these are people who will be learning about your services or buying into the brands product. A super user interface creates easy navigational journeys on the website, and is the basis of this.
During this planning phase, our web designer will also help you decide the technologies need to be implemented. Elements and features such as interactive forms, search fields, eCommerce, flash, HTML etc. are discussed when planning your website takes place.
Stage Three: Designing your website and its look and feel
Combining the collateral and planning; it’s time to determine the style of your website, by this, we mean its look and feel of your site.
Targeted audience is the key factor which is taken into consideration. For example, a website aimed at the financial industry will look much different than one for teens. As part of this creative phase, it is also very important to incorporate website elements and i-dents such as the company slogan or colours to help strengthen the branding of your company on the website.
At Mac Expo your web designer will create one or more prototype screen grabs for your website. This is typically only after a wire frame is drawn to determine the image of what our final design will look like. You can either come in to our office and we will present the designs to you or for quick edits, design are normally emailed to you in a form of a JPG.
Either way, our web designer will keep you in the loop showing progressive changes throughout the design and development stages. The most important reason for this is to give your teams the opportunity to express your likes and dislikes on the website design.
In this web design phase, communication between both you and our team is crucial to ensure that the website will meet your taste and most importantly needs. An account manager will always work closely with you and our web designer, exchanging ideas, until you get the final design you were looking for.
Stage Four: Getting your website developed
Your website development stage is now at the point where the site itself has been created. At this time, the digital agency’s web designer will take all of the individual graphic and i-dent elements from the prototype stage and use them to create an actual, functional site.
This is normally done by developing the home page to start with, followed by a “shell” for its interior and generic pages. The shell serves as the websites template for its content pages, as this the main navigational structure for your web site. Once the generic shell has been created, our web designer will take your collateral and distribute it throughout the website, in the appropriate site-map areas.
Functions such as interactive contact forms, blogs, flash animations or eCommerce shopping gateways are then implemented and made during this phase, as well.
This entire time, our web designer will continue to keep your companies web site available to you for viewing at any given time, so that you can suggest any (if any) additional changes or corrections you wish to have done.
Our creative technologists are use-to building a successful web site requiring an understanding of the front-end web development. Involving writing valid XHTML / CSS code that ofcourse complies to current web standards, maximizing the functionality, includig its accessibility for the largest audience possible.
Stage Five: Testing through Alpha, Beta and Public testing
Now is the time that your website needs to be fully tested. This part of the process needs to be handled with the utmost care, if everything is correctly produced from planning to development then this bit should be a doddle.
It is important that enough time is allowed to deal with the last minute compaotibility issues when viewing on different browsers. There are plenty of browsers with equeal market share, although IE and Firefox have the majority.
The Digital agency’s web designer should be well versed in the WC3 current standards with suffiecient knowledge in bogh XHTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). All code should be checked and validated as part of the core borowser campaitibity as mentioned above.
Once ready the web designer is going to need FTP details, this can either be from one our packages or other hosting providers. (we dont mind) As long as its fast reliable and rebosut then hapy hosting. Before going live lets put the website through one last run-through. To confirm all files have been uploaded correctly, run a few analysis tools including Google webmaster to ensure that any Google listing techniques are fully merged.
The site is now ready to be official launched.
Stage Six: Maintenance
The design and development of your website may now be live but its far from over. We are firm believers that a website is like a shop front floor and requires constant montoring to show which areas work the most, changing i-candy on a seasonal basis. By this, I don’t just mean additional products being added as this we would take from granted. New content, again this needs to be constantly added. Our digiatal agency is happy to continue woring toghether on these point, suggesting new ideas, consulting on current products.
Some business want a more hands on experiance; Most of our website come standrard with CMS (Content Management System) but needs to be discussed in detail during the planning process. This allows you to add, edit and delete published content yourselves. All CMS easy to use (database driven) and gives you a control panel that talks directly to the database.
Both of the above solution vary from client to client. Our management and maintencance solutions are bespoke to your requirements and every packake can be mixed with both onpage content publishing and off page marketing.
Other popular maintenance types include SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SES (Search Engine Submission). This is the off page optimization of you designed website with elements such as title, alt tages, description and keyword tags which help the website achieve increased rankings in the search engines.