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The website design and development process

Creative Design Agency

Thinking of a new website or upgrade of your existing website? Below is an outline of phases to help you understand the average web development process.

1.   Project Definition – From client

Identifying the reasons of the website’s existence and what it is supposed to achieve are the first step in the process. The goals and objectives that are established at the outset of the project inform all future decisions, from site structure and naming conventions used in the navigation to the visual design of the site. The challenge in this step is limiting the number of goals. Most organizations will have more goals than they know what to do with, and each department believes their individual unit’s goals are the most important. Being able to bring focus to organizational goals will make developing the site easier and make the final product more effective.

Once all the information and assessments gathered, they should be collected in a well-formatted project brief. The brief contains the following elements.

  • Project summary: Outlines the general overview of the project, organizational background, the environment the organization exists in, the people the organization serves and the unique value it provides to its audience.
  • Goals: What are two or three specific measurable goals that the site should achieve? Clear goals allow the Web team the ability to focus on what will provide the most impact and move the organization forward.
  • Target audiences: Who will help the organization achieve its stated goals? Most organizations speak to multiple organizations (such as customers, stakeholders, internal audience, suppliers, partners, shareholders and/or government institutions). Audience profiles include demographics, psychographics, brand perceptions, audience needs, online goals and tasks routinely performed.
  • Messages: What are the key messages that attract and motivate key audiences to engage with the organization? What are the key brand messages that help differentiate the organization from its peers?
  • Competition: Who are rival organizations that provide similar offerings to your audience? Include an overview of competitive organizations’ Web sites, considering visual branding, messaging, navigation, calls to action and key differentiators.
  • Visual design: any other website designs that appeal to you and you would like to do similar (even if it is just part) you can send the URLs. This will give us a better understanding of what you are visualising – if any. Don’t worry if not, we will work that out through the process. Other websites you like don’t have to be in the same industry.
    If you would like more tips on writing a creative brief for a new website let me know and I will send further info.

2. Project Scope and quote – From web design agency

Defining the scope of the project is a critical step. We provide a full proposal based on your requirements, including costs.
On approval, the following steps of your web design and development are continued by Coast Creative Services, with each step approved by the client before continuing to the next:

3.   Wireframes and Site Architecture – From web design agency

Site architecture includes the sitemap and wireframes of pages. Creating the sitemap ensures that you’ve considered all the key pages in the site, showing their relationship to each other and defining how the sties overall navigation should be structured. Wireframes provide a detailed view of the content that will appear on each page. Although they do not show any actual design elements, the wireframes provide a guide for defining content hierarchy on the page.

4.   Visual Design – From web design agency

Once the blueprint for the site has been defined through the creation of the sitemap and wireframes, the next step is to create a visual style. The overall visual style will most likely be determined by the visual brand of the organization; the goal being to connect the Website with all other forms of the organization’s communications. The organization’s brand plays an important role in this part of the process, as designers will want to visually convey key brand perceptual ideas within the design.

5.   Website Development – From web design agency

With designs approved, it’s time to flesh out the design of the pages, develop new content and refine old content, create videos, slideshows, podcasts and other media that will appear on the site as well as start to build out the HTML and CSS of the site.

6.   Site Testing – From web design agency

Before the site is launched, it will be placed on a production server where only internal audiences and anyone who you share the link with can view it. Testing of the site is critical as there will inevitably be issues that need to be addressed before the site goes live. There is nothing that erodes a brand more than a site that doesn’t function properly or that has misspellings or broken design elements. At this stage the site will need to be reviewed on multiple browsers (Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer) and multiple devices (laptops, tablets, and mobile) to see if and where breaks occur.

7.   Launch

The big day. But once the site is launched, the project isn’t over — you should be prepared to address feedback from users adapting to the new site. Expect to make some immediate changes to the site, such as editing copy and making adjustments. The Web is a fluid medium that changes on a daily, if not hourly basis — change is inevitable.

Site Maintenance

Websites are living, breathing entities and need constant care and maintenance. Updating content, making changes to the backend, keeping software up to date are essential to help prevent bugs, hacks and keep your site modern and in line with current browser technology.

All website design and development projects are different, the above is a general list of the usual process. Details may vary slightly between each website design.

For more details and information to help you with your next website project, contact Coast Creative Services for a no-obligation, free consultation and quote.