We start each project with a kickoff meeting with your team. Here we will dive into your needs, goals, and requirements in more detail and turn it into a detailed plan. We will ask you lots of questions about your business and have you elaborate on the brief answers you gave in your initial project inquiry. We'll create or modify a sitemap for your site so that we have a view of how menus will be structured and the content organized. A content review will also occur and members of your team assigned responsibility for any new content or revisions. A photo review will also be conducted so that we know what we have to work with and allow for enough time should additional photos need to be obtained.
2. Functional Design and Development
Next, we'll install and configure your web platform (usually WordPress). We'll create the structure of the website using the Sitemap as a guide for the page hierarchy. We'll populate the pages with your draft content (or sample products for e-commerce sites) and start working on page layouts to highlight the important messages and functions. If there's forms, interactive elements, or e-commerce, they will be implemented in this phase. This functional design will serve as a prototype to test and tweak user interactions and site flow, as well as providing a testing point if we choose to validate the site through user testing.
This prototype will not include visuals - the colors, typography, logos, images, and other graphical elements that will really bring the site to life. In our experience, it is too hard for most clients to focus on both the functional and visual aspects at the same time. We've found it more effective to separate the two, as do most corporate design departments.
3. Visual Design and Theming
With the functionality in place, we'll turn to making the site pretty (or whatever look we're going for) and implementing your branding. First, we'll create a visual mockup of the home page in a design tool (usually Adobe Photoshop of Illustrator). We'll present the design to you and invite your feedback. Usually it will take several rounds of revisions to get it just right. Subsequent drafts will include an example of 1-2 other pages so that you can see how the design will be carried through the site.
After we've nailed the visual design direction, we'll turn to implementing it on your website as a custom theme. When we start working with your real content, there will usually be the need for minor design modifications and graphical elements that may not have been discovered in the mockup stage. These will be applied to the website in development, rather than to static mockups which are limiting because they lack interaction.
Photos will be cropped, optimized, and placed during this phase.
4. Testing and Tweaking
During this phase, we will work on testing your site on multiple browsers and devices and making adjustments for optimal display. We'll be looking for bugs and anything that is not working correctly, and making it right.
While we are testing the website, we'll ask your staff to conduct a detailed content audit, and submit any last minute edits or changes before the site launches. Alternately, we can bring on a copy-editor to give the site a thorough review.
If your website is an e-commerce site, the actual products and services along with photos, descriptions, and prices will be added at this stage. We'll also conduct a thorough test of the checkout process.
5. Launch Prep and Launch
Finally, we'll put your new website through our 42-step pre-flight checklist to make sure that all details have been covered. This includes securing your site to best practices, preparing for Google to index your content, adding Google Analytics and more. Then we launch!