The planning stage is arguably the most important, because what’s decided and mapped here sets the stage for the entire project. This is also the stage that requires your interaction (as a client) and the accompanying attention to detail.
- Requirements analysis
This includes your goals, target audience, detailed feature requests and as much relevant information as you can possibly gather.
- Project charter
The project charter (or equivalent document) sums up the information that has been gathered and agreed upon in the previous point. These documents are typically concise and not overly technical, and they serve as a reference throughout the project.
- Site map
A site map guides end users who are lost in the structure or need to find a piece of information quickly. Rather than simply listing pages, including links and a hierarchy of page organization is good practice.
- Contracts that define roles, copyright and financial points
This is a crucial element of the documentation and include payment terms, project closure clauses, termination clauses, copyright ownership and timelines.
- Gain access to servers and build folder structure
Typical information to obtain and validate includes FTP host, username and password; control panel log-in information; database configuration; and any languages or frameworks currently installed.
The design stage typically involves moving the information outlined in the planning stage further into reality. The main deliverables are a documented site structure and, more importantly, a visual representation. Upon completion of the design phase, the website should more or less have taken shape, but for the absence of the content and special features.
- Wireframe and design elements planning
This is where the visual layout of the website begins to take shape. Using information gathered from the you in the planning phase, we will begin designing the layout using a wireframe. Pencil and paper are surprisingly helpful during this phase, although many tools are online to aid as well.
- Mock-ups based on requirements analysis
Designing mock-ups in Photoshop allows for relatively easy modification.
- Review and approval cycle
A cycle of reviewing, tweaking and approving the mock-ups often takes place until you are satisfied with the design. This is the easiest time to make changes.
- Slice and code valid XHTML/CSS
It’s coding time.
Development involves the bulk of the programming work, as well as loading content.
- Build development framework.
This is when we implement a content management system, and get the basic engine up and running. Doing this early ensures that the server can handle the installation and set-up smoothly.
- Code templates for each page type.
A website usually has several pages (e.g. home, general content, blog post, form) that can be based on templates.
- Develop and test special features and interactivity.
Here’s where the fancy elements come into play.
- Fill with content.
Time for loading all of your content. Although mundane, even the simplest of pages demand tight typography and careful attention to detail.
- Test and verify links and functionality.
This is a good time for a full website review. We walk through every single page —everything from the home page to the submission confirmation page—and make sure everything is in working order and that we haven’t missed anything visually or functionally.
The purpose of the launch phase is to prepare the website for public viewing. This requires final polishing of design elements, deep testing of interactivity and features and, most of all, a consideration of the user experience. An important early step in this phase is to move the website, if need be, to its permanent Web server. Testing in the production environment is important because different servers can have different features and unexpected behavior.
Polishing a basically completed design can make a big difference. Here, we can identify parts of the website that could be improved in small ways.
- Transfer to live server
This could mean transferring to a live Web server, “unhiding” the website or removing the “Under construction” page. Your last-minute review of the live website happens now.
Run the website through the final diagnostics using the available tools: code validators, broken-link checkers, website health checks, spell-checker and the like.
- Final cross-browser check
(IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, iPhone, BlackBerry)
Now the site is complete, what now?
- Hand off
Make sure you are satisfied with the product and that all contractual obligations have been met (refer to the project charter).
- Provide documentation and source files
Provide documentation for the website, such as a soft-copy site map and details on the framework and languages used.
We would like for you to get the most out of your new website. We offer Maintenance packages based on how often you anticipate making changes or additions to your web site.