Whether you are updating your existing website or building out an entirely new one, Webdot Marketing can help you build a high quality, affordable website that your customers will love.
Where many companies focus initially on design and what your website will look like, we focus first on what your website needs to do – both in terms of the content your website needs to present and the functionality you will need to deliver the right user experience. When you have a clear idea of the ‘what’, then you can focus on the aesthetic and design elements that will best help you accomplish your overall objectives.
Here’s a rough outline of the website building steps we recommend. Depending on your organization’s staffing and resources, your team may be able to do significant portions of the work. As the scope of work gets firmed up, we can coordinate with you to figure out who does what at each stage.
Phase 1: Planning and Preparation
- Plan and budget. The first thing we like to do is to create a rough plan of action for your website. This involves a preliminary outline of your requirements and some estimates of the functional, design, and other needs of the site. We also estimate schedules and costs.
- Business assessment. The business assessment involves both market analysis of your audience and competitive analysis of similar sites. In audience analysis, we quickly identify and analyze your target market – who you are trying to reach, what their demographics are (e.g., age, income, educational level), and what they will be trying to accomplish through your site. This information will be used in a variety of ways – for instance, if we know your likely visitors are older, we will know to use larger vs. smaller fonts. If we know your audience is well educated, then we know to amp up the intellectual content of your copy. As well, we like to do a quick competitive scan to see what other companies in your area or your field are doing. It is often helpful to borrow their good ideas, learn from their bad ones, and figure out how your site will be distinct from them.
- Content and messaging outline. In this step, we work with you to sketch out the key messages you want to communicate to your audience and map those to individual web pages as best we can. Ideally, we want to finish this step with an outline of all the content pages your website will contain and what the relationship is between them (‘parent’ vs. ‘child’ pages, pages that link within body copy, etc.). If you will be using photographs or video, we will want to identify what’s needed to obtain them, particularly if some of the materials will be your own original works.
- Identify required functionality. It is helpful to identify the functionality your site will need as early as possible. Once we know what web platform you will be using, we can then figure out whether that functionality exists out of the box or can be supported by a plug-in or module. If custom coding is required, we’ll need to plan and budget for that.
- Preliminary design concept. Preliminary design work involves early thinking in three areas: visual concept, page layout(s), and navigation. In general, we’ll want the help of a graphic or web designer to assist with the visual concept. Page layouts can be mocked up using online wireframing tools like Moqups (moqups.com). Navigational ideas can flow from knowing what the content architecture of your site is likely to be.
- Web technology platform selection. One of your choices is what technology to build your website on and where to have your website hosted. We recommend WordPress for relatively simpler websites and Drupal for relatively more complex sites. If you have an eCommerce site, then you may consider Drupal or a specialty platform such as Volusion. If you already have a preferred platform, we can review that and see if it meets your going forward needs. We can recommend hosting providers for your consideration.
Phase 2: Development
- Platform installation and configuration. This work involves getting a hosting account setup and then installing and configuring all the necessary software we’ll need to build your site. This work will include installing and configuration all necessary plug-ins or modules that we expect you will need. Once the platform is in place, then we (and you) can begin building out elements of the site.
- Content creation. In this step, we work with you to create and upload the web content that will populate your website. In many cases, clients can prepare much or most of the content themselves. If you have some facility with websites, you can also probably upload some of it, too. If you aren’t able to prepare all the necessary material, we can assist in writing, sourcing photographs or what have you.
- Design development. coming soon…
- Theme implementation. coming soon…
- Implement functionality. coming soon…
Phase 3: Deployment
- Browser testing. In the modern age of PCs, tablets, and mobile phones, one thing that complicates life for web designers and developers is ensuring that websites work well on all types of devices, screens, browsers, and operating systems, especially older versions of anything. In most cases, it is simply not cost-feasible to test your site on everything, so we will tend to focus on a few combinations that seem representative of the majority of users. If you know your users will be visiting from some particular type of device, then let us know that up front.
- Internal review. We recommend that you plan for a detailed, but orderly review of your website within your organization. Ideally, you’ll have been briefing people along the way, but at some point, you’ll want them to visit the site and review it carefully. Since this can quickly lead to chaos, we suggest keeping the review team small and having an established process for providing feedback. Using a tool like Annotary (annotary.com) can be helpful.
- User testing. Before launch, we recommend getting some of your existing and/or prospective customers to have a look at your new website. Users are ultimately who the site is built for, so it helps to know what they think about it before you unleash it on the world.
- Go live. After an appropriate amount of testing and review, your site should be ready to go live. At that point, we will take down your old site (if there is one) and bring the new one online. As that happens, we will need to deploy a range of supporting and ancillary capabilities, including sitemaps, analytics tools, spam prevention services, url redirections, and so forth.
Please give us a shout if this sounds like a process that will work for you.