One of the first things we sit down and go through with any new client is how we go about designing and building a new website. With the majority of projects that we undertake we go through a structured process so that we can ensure the web design project is delivered correctly, in the correct timescale and on budget.
This is arguably the most important stage in the whole process. I know a lot of web designers who just fly into a design concepts straight away, but usually this ends up in wasted time, money and generally ends up with a poorly designed and structured website.
During the planning stage it is immensely important to understand who you are targeting with your website, what you want to achieve and then how to get there.
We put together a full sitemap of your website and detail how each section will work, together with call to action points and look at the different ways that users could flow through a website to reach the end goal.
Also important to the planning stage is the allocation of tasks and the setting of milestones with dates for both ourselves and also the client. To assist with this we use project management software to plan our schedule of work, which allows the team working on a project to seamlessly work together.
If search engine optimisation is to be part of the project then we would also include keyword research and build the relevant keywords into the website from the project up.
Once the project has been planned and the web design team are all working towards the same objectives we will start working on the initial design concepts. As an agency it’s our job to understand your needs and also what works for you, so following an initial design meeting we always ask clients to supply three websites that they love and three websites that they don’t, together with the reasons why.
Using this information our designers can then start to sketch out some initial layouts and then start mocking up the design concept for the home page, which is usually the first page we send over to a client for feedback. Once the client is happy with the concept for the homepage, we will then mock-up some additional pages. Typically this would include a standard content page, a list style content page and any other specific sections that are relevant to that particular site.
Once a client is happy with all the design concepts then the design is signed off and the project is passed through to our development team for the website to be built.
The development stage is the most technical part of the project and is usually the stage that requires the most resources in relation to man-hours and therefore cost. As we have carried out significant planning earlier in the process, the development team can start to build the website knowing what the final objectives are and what processes need to be put in place in order to get there. Our designers and developers all sit together in the same office too, so they are well versed in working together with the project manager to make sure that the project is running on track.
In order to keep the client up to date, we upload a test site at various stages throughout the build so that the client can keep an eye on the progress and see the site developing.
Once the site build has been completed, the site is vigorously tested in-house. We approach testing in two separate ways.
Firstly, we work through the site with the sole aim of breaking it! If anyone finds a way to break it then its back into development to fix this and the testing starts all over again.
The second way in which we test a site is to look at usability. We are looking to see if the user flow around the website makes sense and there is a logical process to lead the user from the initial site entrance to the end goal.
Once we are happy that there are no bugs in the site and there is a logical user flow through the website it’s time to add in the final content. Following some initial training, it is then the clients job to populate the site with their content using the website content management system.
We have been asked to populate sites for clients in the past and have no problem doing this, but, we usually find that the client wants to get to grips with the website and using the content management system as soon as possible, so what better way than to just jump straight in!
Final testing and launch
At this stage we would expect the website to be ready to go, but we do go though a pre launch check list to make sure everything goes according to plan. This includes things like 301 redirects, inputting Google Analytics, some final testing and a few other things.
It’s then time to launch, Monday to Thursday only, never on a Friday! Point the domain name to our super fast servers and announce it to the world! Usually via social networks.