1. Gathering Info
The first and most important 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 involves getting a good understanding of your company, what your business goals and dreams are, and how the web can be utilized to help you achieve those goals.
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…?
At this point we will also see what avaiable Domain names are available to suit your business.
Using the information gathered from stage 1, 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.
From the information gathered up to this point, it’s time to determine what your site will look like. We usually start with a sketch or wireframe to layout a website (See the image above for an example of how we designed this website)
The 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. At this point it is also important to incorporate elements such as your logo or colors to help strengthen the identity of your company on the web site.
We will then create a ‘static’ prototype design of your web site. This is typically a .jpg image of what the final design will look like. We allow you 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.
This communication is crucial to ensure that the final web site will match your needs and taste. It is important that we work closely with you, exchanging ideas, until we arrive at the final design for your web site.
The developmental stage is the point where the web site itself is created. At this time, we take all of the individual elements from the prototype and use them to create a fully functional site.
Elements such as interactive contact forms, graphics or animations are introduced and made functional during this step.
At anytime we can keep you up to date with the work in-progress web site so that you can suggest any additional changes or corrections you would like to have done.
On the technical side, a successful web site requires an understanding of front-end web development. This involves writing valid XHTML / CSS code that complies to current web standards, maximizing functionality, as well as accessibility for as large an audience as possible.
5. Testing and Completion
At this point, we see to the final details and test your web site. We test things such as the functionality of forms or other scripts, as well as 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.
Once we have final approval, it is time to get you site live. We upload your site to your requested domain and put it 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.
This marks the official launch of your site, as it is now viewable to the public!
6. Maintenance & Marketing
The development of your web site is not necessarily over, though. One way to bring repeat visitors to your site is to offer new content or products on a regular basis. We can typically offer you this service for FREE for the first 3 months, a minimal charge would be required for future changes.
For an additional cost and if you prefer to be more hands on, you can update your own content using something called a CMS (Content Management System) that can be implemented to your web site. This is something that would be decided during the Planning stage (Stage 2).
We also include various Web Marketing strategies like Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This is the optimization of your web site with elements such as title, description and keyword tags which help your web site achieve higher rankings in the search engines. The previously mentioned code validation in Stage 4 is something that plays a vital role in this too!
This is a very important stage, because even though you have a web site, you need to make sure that people can find it!