This is how i build websites. My process is designed to help keep the project organized, efficient and flexible.
the following serves as a general procedural outline. given that each project is different, phases can be modified and customized as needed.
1. Review Process – I explain how the process will work from start to finish for all projects.
2. Questionnaire – Going through questions that will help me put a project proposal together and spark ideas on what’s possible.
3. Project Proposal – From any meetings leading up to this phase, I’ll generate a project proposal for you to review to ensure we’re on the same page.
4. Project Brief – Once the project proposal is approved, we proceed with generating the final project brief. Once that’s signed off on, work can begin.
1. Domains – We register and/or set up your domain(s) for the project.
2. Hosting – We set up and/or configure your hosting for the project.
3. Development Site – While under development, your site will be hosted at a location not accessible to the public.
4. Set up CMS – We install and configure your CMS (Content Management System) of choice. My recommendation is WordPress for most projects.
5. Shared Cloud Folder – To make sharing files and copy for the website more efficient, a shared cloud folder will be established that all project members will have access to. Generally, all main pages on the site will get their own folder, into which content like photos and text can be copied.
1. Market Research – We study and collect information about your market and competition which could help inform what decisions get made regarding the structure and strategy of your website.
2. Visual Sitemaps – These help to better visualize the how the flow of content will work on your website and give us a foundation for how the site’s pagination and sections will be laid out.
3. Sketching Layout Ideas – We discuss and collect various layout ideas and start doing rough sketches and rendering on how they will look with the content and sitemap we have at this point.
4. Mood Board & Design Ideas – The mood board is the starting point for coming up with the look and feel of your site, and for some projects, your brand as well. Mood boards keep the design process versatile so we can quickly cycle through ideas. Ideas can come from brainstorming sessions and various external sources.
1. Content Inventory – With the Visual Sitemap as a starting point, we put together a more detailed list of exactly what content will go onto the website. For simpler sites, we can simply add to the Sitemap, which at this point is essentially a rough outline of content. For more complex sites, we’ll use a content matrix.
2. Content Matrix – For more complex sites, a content matrix is a more detailed method to list out and organize all of the content that will be used on the website.
3. Content Acquisition – Once we’ve identified all content that will go onto the website, we begin the process of grouping all content together (usually in the cloud folder established earlier) and/or initiate the process of creating it.
1. Wireframing Site – Using the navigation, sections and content listed out earlier, rough but interactive prototypes of the website can be built. This step focuses on creating the structure of the website only, so any design elements, such as colors, won’t be present yet. This keeps the prototyping process lean and efficient and helps bring focus to the site’s interface without the distraction of having to making design decisions at this point. More complex user and back-end interactions will be simulated at this point.
2. Content Population Into Prototype – With the prototype’s structure complete, content can now be placed into it, making the prototype into a closer approximation of the final website.
1. Final Mood Board – We take the best ideas from the first mood board and combine it into one document. This will be the basis for design decisions.
2. Visual Branding – At this point, you have the option of creating a basic style guide for your website, listing out things like brand colors, fonts and logo variants, or a whole visual brand package can be put together, detailing design specifications related to any visual media for your brand, whether for the web, print or other media.
3. Custom Graphics – Custom graphics are designed where needed on the website.
4. Final Site Design – From the mood board, custom graphics and visual branding parameters set in earlier steps, we bring all that together into the site’s final design. The site’s design is built on top of the prototype created in the last phase.
1. Storyboarding – With the site’s structure and design complete, we begin testing sessions where we create fictitious personas based off of your target audience and try to imagine from their perspective how they would interact with the website. This can help us address potential UX issues and address them so users are more likely to follow the path you intend for them.
2. UX Feedback Sessions – We can bring in project stakeholders, outside volunteers and ideally individuals who represent your target audience to get their feedback and ideas on the site. This is a more real-world test.
1. Choose SEO Strategy – Decide on scope of SEO efforts for your project and a timeline, followed by choosing the type of strategy to pursue. SEO starts with setting up the foundation on your website, but for best results, requires repeated efforts through the duration of the website’s existence.
2. SEO & Analytics Tools – Installation and configuration of SEO and analytics tools
3. Keyword Distribution – Strategically placing keywords throughout your site and within media related to your brand on the Internet.
4. Schema – A semantic language used within HTML to give search engines more information with which to more properly index and present content within your site.
1. Final Development & Coding – Taking the prototype version of the site and bringing it all the way to the final product. Addressing more complex front and back end-interactions.
2. Custom Development – For more complex projects that go beyond the capabilities of a custom your CMS or available plugins, custom systems can be developed.
3. Plugin Configuration – Final configuration of any chosen plugins on your site.
1. Deployment onto Final Staging Location – From the development environment where we built your site, we transfer to where the site needs to be in order to go live.
2. Functionality Testing – Once at the final staging location, we test every function on the website to ensure all software bugs, typos and other problems have been addressed.
3. Final Review with Client – After reviewing the site, client signs off on the project.
1. Demo of How Client Updates Site – We schedule a time for me to show you step by step how to perform the kinds of edits you plan on doing for the site.
2. Instructions – Based upon the kinds of edits and updates you plan on doing to the completed site, I assemble a PDF instruction manual for you to reference.
3. Answer questions – I answer any final questions you have about the project before we launch. Any loose ends are addressed during this final step.
Website goes live!