- 1 – Information Gathering
- 2 – Planning
- 3 – Design
- 4 – Development
- 5 – Testing And Delivery
- 6 – Maintenance
The first step in designing a successful website is to gather information. Many things need to be taken into consideration when the look and feel of your site is created.
This first step is actually the most important one, as it involves a solid understanding of the company it is created for.
It involves a good understanding of you – what your business goals and dreams are, and how the web can be utilized to help you achieve those goals.
It is important that DigitalPlus Consulting starts off by asking a lot of questions to help us understand your business/organization and your needs in a website. Attached to this packet, we have designed a Website Creation Strategy guide to help us understand what you truly want in your website.
Using the information gathered from the Website Creation Strategy Guide, it is time to put together a plan for your website. 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 website – 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 website, and is the basis for this.
During the planning phase, we will also help you decide what technologies should be implemented. Elements such as interactive forms, e-commerce, flash, etc. are discussed when planning your website.
Drawing from the information gathered from the Website Creation Strategy Guide and from the elements in the Sitemap, it’s time to determine the look and feel of your site.
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. As part of the design phase, it is also important to incorporate elements such as the company/organization logo or colors to help strengthen the identity of your company/organization on the website.
If requested, we will create one or more prototype designs for your website. This can be in the form of an image, a drawing, or even an actual website. We offer several options for showing you mocks-ups:
- Secure Website Access
- In Person
- Skype Screen Share
- And potential others upon request
Either way you choose, 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.
In this phase, communication between both you and DigitalPlus Consulting is crucial to ensure that the final website will match your needs and taste. It is important that you work closely with us, exchanging ideas, until you arrive at the final design for your website.
The developmental stage is the point where the website itself is created. At this time, we will take all of the individual graphic elements from the prototype and use them to create the actual, functional site.
This is typically done by first developing the home page, followed by a “shell” for the interior pages. The shell serves as a template for the content pages of your site, as it contains the main navigational structure for the website. Once the shell has been created, we will take your content and distribute it throughout the site, in the appropriate areas.
Elements such as interactive contact forms, flash animations or e-commerce shopping carts are implemented and made functional during this phase, as well. This entire time, we continue to make your in-progress website available to you for viewing, so that you can suggest any additional changes or corrections you would like to have done.
On the technical front, a successful website requires an understanding of front-end web development. This involves writing valid XHTML / CSS code that complies with current web standards, maximizing functionality, as well as accessibility for as large an audience as possible.
At this point, we will attend to the final details and test your website. They will test things such as the complete functionality of forms or other scripts, as well last testing for last minute compatibility issues (viewing differences between different web browsers), ensuring that your website is optimized to be viewed properly in the most recent browser versions.
We are well versed in current standards for website design and development. The basic technologies currently used are XHTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). As part of testing, we check to be sure that all of the code written for your website validates. Valid code means that your site meets the current web development standards – this is helpful when checking for issues such as cross-browser compatibility as mentioned above.
Once we receive your final approval, then it will be time to deliver the site. An FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program is used to upload the website files to your server. DigitalPlus Consulting offers domain name registration and web hosting services as well. Once these accounts have been setup, and your website uploaded to the server, the site should be put 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.
The development of your website 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 will be more than happy to continue working in tandem to update the information on your website. We offer maintenance packages at reduced rates, based on how often you anticipate making changes or additions to your website.
If you prefer to be more hands on, and update your own content, there is something called a CMS (Content Management System) that can be implemented to your website. This is something that would be decided upon during the Planning stage. With a CMS, we will utilize online software to develop a database driven site for you.
A website driven by a CMS gives you the ability to edit the content areas of the website yourself. You are given access to a back-end administrative area, where you can use an online text editor (similar to a mini version of Microsoft Word). You’ll be able to edit existing content this way, or if you are feeling more adventurous, you can even add new pages and content yourself. Some flaws in a CMS is that the text editor can strip formatting which will produce something other than what you originally inserted. This is why it is a good idea to let us provide your maintenance so you have the content look the way you intended.
It’s up to you as far as how comfortable you feel as far as updating your own website. Some people prefer to have all the control so that they can make updates to their own website the minute they decide to do so. Others prefer to hand off the website entirely, as they have enough tasks on-hand that are more important for them to handle directly.
That’s where the help of DigitalPlus Consulting comes in, once again, as we can take over the website maintenance for you – one less thing for you to do is always a good thing in these busy times!
Other maintenance type items include SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SES (Search Engine Submission). This is the optimization of you website with elements such as title, description and keyword tags which help your website achieve higher rankings in the search engines. The previously mentioned code validation is something that plays a vital role in SEO, as well.