Two questions we always get when speaking to clients are "How long does this take?" & "What's the next step?" Here we lay out the major steps in our design & development process so that you can get an idea of what goes on behind the scenes.
Our process is simple and we make every effort to engage our clients that want to be involved in the technical parts of the process while keeping things simple and geek-free for our clients that would rather remain hands-off.
Perhaps the most important thing we can do is to get to know you, your products/services and most of all your customers. Once we do this, we can get started.
In order for us to properly design and promote for our clients we MUST get to know you, your products/services, and most of all, your customers. The initial consultation is where we do all three. We want to get to know the personality of your company as your customers see you so we can either maintain that personality in the design of your new website OR so that we know how to mold your online personality so you can be more appropriately received by your customers. If you have any great ideas this is a great time to share them with us. The initial consultation is more of a brainstorm than an interview.
Another important part of the initial consultation is for us to become familiar with your products/services. We need to understand what makes you different and why people choose you. Once we identify your competitive advantages we can communicate those advanages more clearly to your customers. And thats the end goal isn't it?
Finally, we need to know a bit about your customers. As much as we would love to please you with your new website, we have only really achieved our goals when we please your customers because ultimately that's who will use your new website and if they like your website, they will like you too!
Once you've signed off on the project, we need to gather some details for our creative designers and for your project manager.
Once we have your approval on the proposal to move forward and begin, we have to gather some important information in order to get everything started. This is done with a simple Account Setup form that is attached to your proposal.
Now the fun begins. Our creative designers will need some specific information so they have a clear set of guidelines before they begin designing your new website. Your account rep will work with you to help define the creative direction
Now it's time for our brilliant graphic designers to begin to figure out the creative direction of your new website. We spend more time on this portion of the project than anything because it's so important.
Once our designers have the design brief, they will begin brainstorming the creative direction of your new website in-house. This process involves a lot of scribbling on paper, searching for stock images, fonts, color combinations, textures, layouts, demographic audience analysis, and searching for other creative materials for inspiration. We pride ourselves on the creative aspect of our work so we dedicate more time to this than anything else, because this is the part of the project that your customers will notice most. Sometimes the wait can be difficult for demanding clients, but trust us, it's worth the wait.
Usually, our creative team can hit a homerun with the first layout if we've been given clear direction in the design brief. But often the initial layout requires a little refining in order to work exactly the way you want it to. Your feedback is important at this stage so we can finesse the layout and get it ready for programming. We also realize that on occassion the designers do not always get it right. Our policy is that if the initial layout is not what you're looking for and can't be fine tuned to work for you, then we will start over from scratch. The most important part about going back to the drawing board is to identify where the designers went astray so we work closely with our clients at this point to make sure we're all moving is the same direction. Just keep in mind, this is the fun part.
Once the layouts are approved, it's time for our programmers to begin to work their technical magic.
Once the layouts are approved, we turn the project over to our programmers. The programmers will use the proposal to determine the funcationality of the website and they will work with our graphics designers to ensure the creative integrity of the site is preserved. The programmers will also work with your account rep to make sure the site is easy to navigate and to make sure that everything will make sense to your target audience.
The first part of this process involves using CSS code to convert your layout to a working web layout. Then we run a series of test called cross browser compatibility tests and backwards compability tests to make sure the site loads properly on all required browsers. Once they confirm that the layouts are 100% cross browser compatible and 100% backwards compatible, they will begin to implement the Content Management System (CMS). The CMS is the tool that will allow you to quickly and easily update your website's text and images and you don't need to be a computer nerd to do it. Once the CMS is in place, we'll test it as thoroughly as we can and we'll produce something called an internal punchlist. This is where our designers and your account rep will identify bugs, problems, errors, etc... There will be thousands of lines of code in your website and we do our best to make sure all of them work properly.
Once our programmers are done building your new website, your account rep will show you how everything works. Now it's time for you to load content and identify any bugs you may find before we launch the website.
Once our programmers are done building your new website, your account rep will show you how everything works. Now it's time for you to load content and identify any bugs you may find before we launch the website. This is done very easily with the content management system. It is your responsibility to supply text and content photos unless you've contracted our copywriters to prepare the content for you.
As you load content to your new website, it's important to begin preparing a punchlist of any bugs or errors that you may find. We can finish your website much faster if you supply us with all issues outlined in a single list. It's also important that you expect to find bugs. There are thousands of lines of code in each website we produce and as a custom design studio it's impossible to eliminate all bugs in all projects. It's also much easier for you to indentify issues because not all bugs are considered coding errors. Sometimes these issues can be a feature of your site that does not work the way you expected it to work. We work together with you to make the final preparations prior to launch.
After we have your final approval we will schedule an official launch date.
Once we have your final approval to launch your new website, we will set a launch date and time and make all final arrangements for the countdown. Typically, we will recommend to launch your website on a Friday at 5pm. We usually like to do this because it takes time to launch a website and we want to do that with as little interruption as possible, if there is going to be to any interruption at all. In most cases the site can launch without anyone noticing.
Typically, your email hosting will be tied to your website hosting (unless you have an exchange server) so we also like to launch new websites over the weekend so there is no disruption to the flow of your email. Once your email has been moved to our servers you will need to update a few settings in your email programs like outlook, entourage firebird or mac mail. If you use a mobile device like iPhone, iPad, Blackberry or Droid phones to access your mail, you will need to update your settings with those devices as well. Our well-trained staff can walk you through the process of updating your settings to ensure the entire process goes smoothly.
The launch of the website isn't the end of the process, it's just the beginning. From this point on we can work with you to improve search engine ranking, engage the major social networks, and provide 24-hour online support.
After that, your new website will be live on the web. Your account rep will then meet with you to show you how to use any additional tools that we may have setup for you such as the Search Engine Optimization, Pay Per Click Advertising, Blogging, Email Marketing, Google Analytics, etc...
From this point on you will be in the trusted hands of our well-trained, 24-hour online support staff for any additional issues that may arise. As always, you will able to work with your dedicated account rep for any additonal features that may need to be setup.