The website design and development process can be compared to building a house. There are many reasons people want to buy or build their own custom home, just like there are many different purposes for creating a website. The first thing that we need to talk about is the “why?”
Conceptualizing – what does success look like?
Before you build a home, you need to spend some time thinking about what you want out of your new house. Does it need to be big and lavish? Traditional or modern? Ranch house or a bungalow? How many bedrooms, bathrooms, and living spaces do we need? The answer to each one of these questions changes the shape of the project that needs to be considered, as well as the time, skill, and resources required to complete it.
The question that we ask first, and keep in mind every time we talk about the website we’re building is “What does success look like for this project?” At Skyhook, we call that hitting the target. We talk about it a lot internally and with our clients because it helps us have a perspective on what features should be added or removed, which pages are necessary or superfluous, and how to make great strategic recommendations. Once everybody is clear on the “why” of the project, then we are set up for success.
So the question today is: why are you building this website? What does success look like?
Blueprints – the Architecture phase
When you start designing a house, you begin by sitting down with an architect and drawing up blueprints. These establish where each different room goes, and what sort of infrastructure needs to be in place to support them.
Our architecture phase begins with a conversation about your users and audiences, then talk about site maps and wireframes. We make sure that we iron out details for specific functionality that will be required as well.
We’ll also be discussing what materials information you already have, and what needs to be produced. When we finish this phase, we’ll have a very clear picture of what this site is going to be like… then it’s time to decide what it’s going to look like.
At this phase, here are some important inputs: required functionality, integrations into existing software, volume and types of content to plan for
CAD Models, paint and carpet – the Design phase
When your blueprints are done, we’ll move on to the design phase. If you are building a house, you would pick out wall paint and carpet, cabinets, tiles, and all your finishings.
Similarly, will be talking about brand styles and visual components like colors, fonts, photos, and everything that goes into the look and feel of the website. All this will be informed by the design direction established by the conceptualizing process as well; will make sure that the design components match the purpose of the site. A typical deliverable is a homepage and internal page mockup, and other additional pages as determined by the Architecture phase.
It’s important to remember that it’s all still conceptual at this point, so making changes is relatively easy. This is the phase where it’s easy to add or remove rooms, or change the whole layout of the house. Once we move on from here, changes take much longer and cost more, so take the time to get approval from your decision makers now. Remember the old craftsman’s adage: measure twice, cut once.
More important inputs: brand or style guidelines, available graphics or photography, and any other visual assets
Building The Structure – the Development phase
Then comes the build phase. This is where our coders get involved and prepare the site to go live on the web. We stay in touch with you to keep you updated on progress and ask minor questions. You can imagine stopping by the construction site and watching the house go up – you can talk to the construction workers and see progress, but they’ll be closely following the blueprints and plans that were already put in place. It’s not too late to make changes at this point, but it adds to the cost.
Walkthroughs – the Quality Assurance and Testing phase
Just like you’d never move into a house without walking through it first, we wouldn’t take your website live without your review and approval. Internally our project managers test all project work against the original client requests, scope documents, and functional expectations. With the developers who built the project, the also look at the site in multiple browsers and devices of all sizes, including phones and tablets, to make sure the experience is truly seamless.
Then you get a chance to review it as well, ensuring the design and functionality meets your expectations and the plans we made together. Picture walking through your new home with a punch-list and some blue painters tape, marking the few things that need touch up.
We do our best to make this process painless for you, but we need your eyes on the product too. After all, it’s representing you!
Handing over the keys – the Go Live and Warranty phase
With everything touched up and in good working order, we’re ready to hand the website off to you. We’ll take the new site live in a way that replaces your old site with little or no downtime, then let you use it for two weeks to make sure it’s still doing all the things you need it to. We have a 14 day warranty period where we can jump back in and fix things, so it’s important that you spend some time getting familiar with the ins and outs of your new site.
To help you feel more comfortable, our project managers and lead developers can provide your team with in-person and video training, so you and your growing marketing team can jump in with both feet and take control.
Support and Maintenance – our Premium Hosting
To put your mind at ease, we offer premium ongoing support and hosting for our websites. We have a dedicated support specialist to answer your questions, field new feature additions, and keep everything humming. If you participate in our Managed WordPress Hosting, he will make monthly updates to your WordPress and plugin installations to ensure your site platform is operating as it should.
Congratulations on your new site!
You did it! It took some work, but you’re new site is cleaner, faster, stronger, and smarter than the old one. It’s the sort of place that you’ll feel comfortable showing off to your friends and prospective customers; it represents who you are and what you do.
So, welcome home. Doesn’t it feel good to have something you’re proud to call your own?