How I Work My Magic.
The first step in designing a successful web site is to gather information. Many things need to be taken into consideration when the look and feel of your site is created.
This first step is actually the most important one, as it involves a solid understanding of the company it is created for. It involves a good understanding of you – what your business goals and dreams are, and how the web can be utilized to help you achieve those goals.
It is important that I start off by asking a lot of questions to help us understand your business and your needs in a web site.
Certain things to consider are:
- Target Audience
What is the purpose of the site? Do you want to provide information, promote a service, sell a product… ?
What do you hope to accomplish by building this web site? Two of the more common goals are either to make money or share information.
Is there a specific group of people that will help you reach your goals? It is helpful to picture the “ideal” person you want to visit your web site. Consider their age, sex or interests – this will later help determine the best design style for your site.
What kind of information will the target audience be looking for on your site? Are they looking for specific information, a particular product or service, online ordering…?
Using the information gathered from phase one, it is time to put together a plan for your web site. This is the point where a site map is developed.
The site map is a list of all main topic areas of the site, as well as sub-topics, if applicable. This serves as a guide as to what content will be on the site, and is essential to developing a consistent, easy to understand navigational system. The end-user of the web site – aka your customer – must be kept in mind when designing your site. These are, after all, the people who will be learning about your service or buying your product. A good user interface creates an easy to navigate web site, and is the basis for this.
During the planning phase, we will also help you decide what technologies should be implemented. Elements such as what CMS (content management system) such as WordPress to incorporate, will any contact forms be needed, etc. are discussed when planning your web site.
The fun begins during the design stage because we get to play with the crayons and coloring pencils to bring your interactive prototype to life to match your brand identity. Drawing from the information gathered up to this point, it’s time to determine the look and feel of your site.
Target audience is one of the key factors taken into consideration. A site aimed at teenagers, for example, will look much different than one meant for a financial institution. As part of the design phase, it is also important to incorporate elements such as the company logo or colors to help strengthen the identity of your company on the web site.
I will create one or more prototype designs for your web site. This is typically an image of what the final design will look like. You will be sent an email with the mock-ups for your web site, as well as the access info to a secure area of their web site meant for customers to view work in progress. You will be able to view your project throughout the design and development stages. The most important reason for this is that it gives you the opportunity to express your likes and dislikes on the site design.
In this phase, communication between us is crucial to ensure that the final web site will match your needs and taste. It is important that you work closely with us, exchanging ideas, until you arrive at the final design for your web site.
Then development can begin…
The developmental stage is the point where the web site itself is created. This is typically done by first developing the home page, followed by a “shell” for the interior pages. The shell serves as a template for the content pages of your site, as it contains the main navigational structure for the web site. Once the shell has been created, we will take your content and distribute it throughout the site, in the appropriate areas.
Elements such as the CMS (content management system) like WordPress, interactive contact forms, or ecommerce shopping carts are implemented and made functional during this phase, as well.
This entire time, I will continue to make your in-progress web site available to you for viewing, so that you can suggest any additional changes or corrections you would like to have done.
On the technical front, a successful web site requires an understanding of front-end web development. This involves writing valid HTML / CSS code that complies to current web standards, maximizing functionality, as well as accessibility for as large an audience as possible.
This is tested in the next phase…
Testing & Delivery
Finally, we go underground for a couple of weeks and make sure everything is plugged in and tested before deploying your shiny new website to your hosting server so you can show it off to the whole world.
At this point, we will attend to the final details and test your web site. We will test things such as the complete functionality of forms or other scripts, as well last testing for last minute compatibility issues (viewing differences between different web browsers), ensuring that your web site is optimized to be viewed properly in the most recent browser versions.
As part of testing, we will check to be sure that all of the code written for your web site validates. Valid code means that your site meets the current web development standards – this is helpful when checking for issues such as cross-browser compatibility as mentioned above.
Once we receive your final approval, we will have your web site uploaded to the server, the site should be put through one last run-through. This is just precautionary, to confirm that all files have been uploaded correctly, and that the site continues to be fully functional.