All websites go through a carefully crafted process, to be certain that your website is designed, produced, and launched to the best results possible. While larger projects tend to allow for (and require) greater detail in each stage of the process, and smaller projects tend to require some steps be combined or shortened, the overall steps begin the same, and are adjusted as necessary.
Stage 1 – Planning and Strategy
The first stage in a new website is getting to know the project, discovering the requirements and needs of the project, and laying the groundwork for a successful website. Some important steps along this stage include:
- Confirm and refine objectives, define target audience, project description
- Initial Meeting Between Dan Moriarty Design and Client
- Competitive Analysis, identifying key related sites
- Plan on content breakdown, including copy, photos, artwork
- Deciding on content types tequired (*Drupal/CMS)
- Client feedback and approval
These steps help build a strong foundation for the following stages. Knowing the exact project requirements through a detailed project description and discussion with the Client is a great place to start. Looking at other sites helps illuminate Client expectations and taste, while deciding what features may be useful or necessary. In a CMS such as Drupal, it is helpful to plan what type of content the site will require (e.g.- pages, forum, blog, gallery, etc.). This will help inform the production process and overall site design. A sitemap identifies the overall structure of site content and site pages, usually through a flowchart styled document. This gives the Client an idea of how much content will be required, and both parties an opportunity to study site flow, and the overall usability of the site.
Wireframes are visual representations of site pages, stripped of design and actual content. These become the template for the site during design and development stages. Wireframes are developed for each of the content types that will be used, as well as the home page of the site.
Stage 2 – Design and Build
The second stage is where we begin building.
- Create site concepts for review
- Incorporate feedback and revisions to concepts as needed
- Site prototype, based on wireframes and content plan
- Finalize photography, copy and related artwork
Stage 3- Full Site Development, Revisions and Testing
Stage 3 is bringing the new site to life. Content is ready to be input, the look of the site is established, and the requirements are well defined. Now it's time to execute.
- Content input, content transfer phase
- HTML theming templates, install any necessary modules for the site CMS
- Program and build any custom features needed
- Testing in current popular browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Chrome
- Beta-launch of site for client review, user testing and proofing
Inputting content for a new site, particularly a larger site, can be an arduous task. It should be established early on who will be responsible for this task, and plan accordingly. Content transfer, from an existing site, can be helped along by some online tools for importing and exporting databases. But often it requires some manual data input. Theming is the process of applying the site designs to actual HTML pages. Testing is typically centered around the browsers that cover 95% or more of site visitors. The new site is made available in BETA form on a development server, where the Client can view and interact with the new site before launch.
Stage 4- Final Revisions, Training, and Launch
After the beta-version of the site has been tested and worked with, now it's time to make final adjustments and prepare for launch. There probably will be opportunity for further development or additions after the Client's customers have had time to work with the new site. But we feel pretty good about what we're about to launch.
- Complete any revisions to site, based on feedback on the Beta version
- Train client in new system, provide documentation as needed
- Move site to live server, launch new site (and/or turn finished site over to Client for launch)
- Ongoing support and maintenance
Training in using the new site and new tools is often simply accomplished by a phone conference- training one or more lead persons within the Client's organization, who can then train additional personnel as needed. Documentation can be supplied for reference in common site tasks, and to allow for more specific questions should problems arise. Clients are welcome to contact Dan Moriarty Design for future support, updates, upgrades and other maintenance-related tasks. Any software 'bugs' or issues are generally guaranteed to be fixed within 30 days of site launch at no cost.