Before production work can begin, the start to any project involves careful preparation and planning. This helps set out the goals and expectations as well as formulate a road map to ensure the smooth implementation of a project.
Stage 1 – User Needs & Functional Specification
To scope and assess a new project we typically determine objectives, review the current website and define the audience, as well as confirm deliverables and success metrics.
The starting point for any project is to understand the objectives and capture requirements in detail. We will gather all the information we need, analyse it and produce strategic recommendations that will guide the editorial content, user experience and visual design. We will develop an understanding of the key priorities, objectives and goals of the website on which to base the functionality and content.
We begin a project with a meeting to agree roles, responsibilities, consultation requirements, and establish points of contact for each party. We would also discuss the scope of the project by establishing any required optional components such as a brand refresh, SEO analysis, website copy writing, etc.
Deliverables for this stage are (i) detailed timeline, (ii) accurate costing, (iii) agreed working practice & (iv) defined roles.
Stage 2 – Content Planning & Site Architecture
Having defined requirements, site content will be planned and documented. This will include the production of a site map, wireframes, and navigation structure.
A crucial element for a website is how quickly and efficiently the different target markets are able to find and digest the content relevant to them. This is especially important for the home page. Instant decisions are made when first arriving to a website. Careful work needs to be done on full wire-framing and the structure of the website to ensure the most effective user experience as possible.
Whilst considering site architecture it is recommended to define all aspects of navigation. Getting this right is often the key to making a website user-friendly. Many factors need to be considered such as how best to layout links based on the length of text, how many tiers of navigation are suited to the content, whether breadcrumb trails are appropriate etc.
Deliverables for this stage are (i) site map, (ii) wireframes, (iii), navigation structure and its presentation across the site & (iv) keyword analysis report (optional).
Once the preparation work has taken place it's onto the production phase which inevitably falls into two main areas. We prefer to overlap these two tasks so that both teams can input into each area.
Stage 3 – Website Design
Based on the signed off content and structure we will design a dynamic, engaging, professional, and modern look for the new site.
Once the structure and content has been agreed, we will develop two visual concepts for the website showing the home page and two sub-pages. We will make up to two rounds of amends to the chosen concept. On approval we will then expand the design to cover the required structure by creating individual templates for the entire site. The website will be designed as per the agreed specifications.
If the project includes a brand refresh we will firstly follow a similar procedure for items such as your organisation logo. We will present a variety of concepts, engage in discussion, and refine the chosen concept to produce artwork that will then lead onto the design of the website as described above.
Deliverables for this stage are (i) initial presentation containing two distinct design concepts, (ii) amended chosen design concept, (iii), final amended design, (iv) any relevant Hi-Res files & (v) a colour palette guideline.
Stage 4 – Website Build
A website will be developed based on the new structure and design; making sure the site is user-friendly, responsive and built using best practice digital techniques.
The first decision is to choose the right platform and technologies for a project. We increasingly recommend the use of WordPress for a number of reasons. WordPress is used by over 26% of the top 10 million websites so unless there is a specific reason not to, we’ll chose this platform. We’ll use our experience to develop a site in a modular way so that it can be updated and built upon as your future needs change.
We always work on the server-side functionality at the earliest point. This is typically undertaken during the design phase so that both these stages run in parallel with each team in close communication. Once the design has been signed off we can then focus on client-side work (turning designs into HTML).
Deliverables for this stage are (i) installation of CMS and any required plugins, (ii) development of any bespoke functionality or plugins to meet the goals of the website & (iii) fully customised, branded and bespoke theme.
Along with the planning phases, the training and delivery phases typically involve a lot of client interaction. This is where you'll get to see and provide input on our work to ensure the final product goes beyond your expectations.
Stage 5 – CMS Training
Training will be provided so your team will have a full and comprehensive understanding of how to manage and administer the content of the website.
There will be a point during the website build phase when a version of the site will be deployed (under a development non-public domain). This will give staff the opportunity to gain experience using the CMS. It allows them to get familiar with the administration area and review how it operates. It also provides an opportunity to get a head start in populating the content of the site, as the final stages of us delivering the build are still being undertaken.
Users to a system might find issues or spot opportunities overlooked by the developer. Making amendments is easier whilst everything is fresh in the mind of all those involved. In addition this non-public version of the site can be used to test new site features and generally deploy functionality for client approval before been made live. It will connect to a separate database so that it can always be used by your staff for any CMS training without impacting the live site.
Deliverables for this stage are (i) presentation containing CMS guidelines, (ii) in-person or Skype with screen sharing sessions will be provided & (iii) further training provided at any time that it is required.
Stage 6 – Project Delivery...
The website will be thoroughly tested so that it works on modern devices. It will be deployed onto a server and on-going hosting will be provided.
The website will be tested to ensure it works with standard modern devices and deployed to a server. Any relevant DNS entries will be configured to launch the site under the live domain. Hosting will be provided with 24/7 server monitoring ensuring minimal downtime. We will liaise with any third parties who manage your IT systems so that everything runs smoothly and there is no downtime involved in launching your new website.
Site files will be mirrored / synced to another server in a separate physical location, so backups are instant. The database will be copied every hour (incremental in case it needs to be rolled back). Old database copies will get removed, but site files will be kept on the off-site back-up even if they’re deleted from the main server (in case they are deleted by mistake). Essentially the website will be backed up to ensure no data is lost.
Deliverables for this stage are (i) website tested across platforms and resolutions, (ii) DNS management, (iii) site launched on new server, (iv) back-ups configured & (v) Google Analytics / Google Webmaster Tools installed.