My Web Development Process from Start to Finish…and beyond.

Preliminary Steps

Needs Assessment and Website Requirements

Let’s begin with the end in mind.

 

 

A vital step in the early stages is for both the client and the website designer to identify user groups, their needs, and the company’s goals and adapt this information to a requirement list for the website.

 

This creates a backbone from which the website can be designed, and could be used to outline goals and requirements for the project as a whole.

 

 Often, an initial informal face-to-face meeting with clients (or over a videocall) provides the best information and insight into your business and specific industry’s nuances and niches.

 

Online forms or questionnaire-type information gathering processes are also available for clients to complete in their own time, but can prove to be less effective.

 

It’s ultimately the website designer’s responsibility to assist the client with outlining their needs, and interpret these needs through asking the right questions at the right time and through using examples to drill down to broad elements of the website, as building blocks for outlining the scope of the project; the units of work required to do our job.

 

 The more complex the website, the deeper and more thorough the needs analysis should be, so that there is mutual understanding between client and website designer before the project starts.

 

Some of the more generic basic questions I post to clients at the start of a project:

 

  •       Who are the potential users of your website?

Be as specific as possible: general demographic, age range, income bracket, expected computer literacy, etc.

 

  •       What does the site need to accomplish (for each/every user group)?

For example, be the face of the business, provide more product information; drive more sales; drive more sign-ups, etc.

 

  •       Are there specific website functions or user interactions required?

For example, submission forms, e-commerce, customer login zone, etc.

 

  •       How would you like your users to find you (your website)?

For example: organic keyword search; post-meetings; referral from friends, etc.

Estimating and Quoting

In short, after the needs analysis meeting, I should be able to provide a ballpark figure, both in terms of scale of the project, time and financial cost.

 

However, estimating is always tricky, and almost always tends to vary.

 

I like to settle on a deeper review of your needs analysis as a more thorough answer to questions like “how long will it take” and “how much will it cost”.

 

The more complex the website, and the more features which are required, the greater the time input and costs.

 

If you are happy with the ballpark figure, then I will provide you with a thorough project specification, and matching quote (both essential elements for costing).

 

A 50% deposit is required to start the project.

 

Additional features or work beyond the initial project scope will be quoted separately as pro-rata items.

Standard

Limited Page Website
  • Select & Setup:
    Domain & Hosting Servers.
    Includes: Email Addresses.
  • Select & Setup:
    Website Theme: Looks amazing on any device.
    Includes: Wordpress and plugins installation.
  • Design & Implement:
    Standard WebPages.
    e.g: Home, About, Product/Services, Contact (email form), Blog, etc.
  • Website Performance:
    Optimisation, Site Caching, Minification.
  • Post-Launch Maintenance:
    Includes: Security & Backups, Support.
  • Additional:
    Includes: Analytics, Guarantee.

Premium

Multi Page Website
  • Standard Package benefits,
    Plus additional options below:

  • Search Engine Optimisation:
    All pages and content optimised for SEO.
  • Imagery:
    Product Showcasing through custom Image Galleries.
  • Integration and API's:
    Plugging into third-party services.
    e.g. Chatbots, Instagram, Live Weather Services.
  • Training and Support:
    Staff education, Website Updates, Training Manuals.
  • Marketing (Optional):
    Brand Usage Guidelines, Stockphotos or photographer.
  • E-Commerce (Optional):
    Store Setup, Product Catalogue & Product Templates.
  • Website Security (SSL) (Optional):
    Securely store and process sensitive information.
    e.g. Capture Online Payments.
  • Payment gateways:
    Enable multiple methods for accepting online payments.
    e.g. Credit Cards, Payfast, PayPal.

Custom

Multi Page Custom Website
  • Premium Package benefits,
    Plus additional options below:

  • Bespoke Pixel-Perfect Web Development:
    Could apply to a website or an app interface.

Project Management

Let’s plan to keep it simple.

 

I oversee the Website “build”, where planning is roughly two-thirds, and implementation is one-third. I’ve found that putting emphasis on an agreed plan in the early stages ultimately saves time in the long run. 

 

Agile development methods means I get to show you early ‘ugly duckling’ versions of your website for quicker feedback and implementation loops so that we can mark milestones of the project as complete.

 

 

Image Source: www.developer.salesforce.com

 

 

I like to use collaborative online tools for both communication and project tracking. If you have tools you prefer, please let me know so I can get up to speed with their interface.
These include:

 

Items I need from you

These items below are a must-have for any successful project:

Company Logo and Branding

A high definition quality copy of your logo, in digital format. Preferably in .png with transparent backgrounds.
Style guide, and/or any other brand usage guidelines or directions you would like me to follow.

Content

You as the client know your business best, and are the only person who can paint your business in the light you want to showcase. This means that you should work on generating or procuring content, text, photographs or logos before initiating the project with a web designer.
The materials should be submitted in their final form. If the designer has to make revisions after the images or text have already been inserted into the material, it may increase the cost and delay the deadline.

Imagery

Most businesses and organisations already have images of their products, services, employees and premises etc. to assist and supplement their storytelling and positioning.
If not, we will need to arrange to get high quality imagery, either by way or stockphotos or a professional photographer.

These items below are nice-to-have for any successful project:

Samples

It’s always easiest to work with references. In the case of websites, having a comparative website or two in line with your taste and functionality makes for a good inspiration. Oftentimes there’s something on a specific website which catches the client’s eye and gives the overall website that zhuzh feeling.

Pointman

I find it’s best if I have direct access to someone on the client’s team who has deep insight into the company or project, and who can act as my point of contact in the organisation.

Hosting

If you already have a webhosting company or in-house server, I would need login details for the hosting account so that I can create a staging website and once complete, upload the website to your hosting server.

Frequently Asked Questions

  •       How long does it take to develop a website?

It can typically take anywhere from a 1 – 6 weeks to develop a new website. This is dependent on the complexity of the project.
The average timeframe for building a website is around 14 days.

 

  •       Will my website work on mobile devices?

Yes. All our websites are mobile-friendly as standard, and will work on 99% of devices.

 

  •       I need to improve my Google ranking. Can you help?

Yes, we provide SEO services to help improve a client’s ranking in search engines.

 

  •       What happens if my website breaks or gets hacked?

I take precautions to secure your website by using various technologies to provide layers of security against potential vulnerabilities. I also create a backup of you website before it goes live, and on specific occation. If you prefer having ongoing maintenance, security updates and monthly backups I recommend we chat about my website maintenance services and monthly retainer.

 

  •       Can you help me write content for my website?

Yes. As part of the process we will provide a template with guidelines on how you should write your content for your website. If you want professionally written copy, we can include the cost of a copywriter in our quote.

 

  •       Can you help me with photographs for my website?

Yes. We can either source photos for you from a stock photography site or enlist the help of a photographer which would be included in the quotation.

 

  •       What is a single page scroll website?

A single or one-page website is simply a website that only contains one HTML page. The additional web pages, such as an About, Features or Contact Us page added as sections to this one-page website. To navigate sections on a single page website, users click navigation links that allow them to jump to destinations on the page, or scroll down the page to reach different sections of content.
Actually, my portfolio website has a single-page website payout.

Let’s chat about taking your business online, today!

The Website

Conceptualisation - Sitemap

A sitemap is essentially an outline of the structure of the pages that will comprise the website.

 

Planning the sitemap prior to working on any website design has several benefits since a design can be built around the most important pages, plan the website navigation more efficiently, and get an overall idea of the outstanding content.

 

Image Source: www.visual-paradigm.com

The Design - Theme

In this phase, for more detailed websites, a wireframe is created with basic web page elements such as the header, navigation, widgets, etc. The wireframe can then be moved into a more realistic mockup using a program such as Photoshop, or moved directly to a basic functioning web layout build.

Smaller websites may not need to be wireframed.

 

I prefer to use well coded website themes, which saves on development and coding time and assists greatly in providing perfect layouts and page elements.

 

Although themes with pre-built sample websites can be copy-pasted to create a new website, I always custom-build my websites so that they are unique, contextual and relevant to the project.

Website Development

In the Develop phase, the website design is translated to actual code that makes the website work, using the designs and wireframe mockups. This stage can be the most lengthy, so I like to keep clients informed on the status of the project by means of a staging or testing website and progress updates.

 

This is where I would setup a testing server matching your live hosting server conditions, and with the latest internet tools and standards in mind.

 

A content management system (e.g. WordPress) and it’s related plugins and themes are added to run on the server, setup according to the feature requirements of the website development project.

 

The majority of the time, the landing or main page is created first, and then all other web pages are added, as per the site hierarchy created as mentioned in the sitemap.

Testing

Another routine part of the web development process. 

 

Every page and all links are thoroughly tested before launching the site to make sure nothing is broken. Every form, code script and third-party integrations are checked. Content is spell-checked. 

 

In this phase, I test the website for several things including
• Website speed
• Cross-browser compatibility
• Multiple screen tests 

 

All the necessary tests are performed on a website before launching it into the World Wide Web.

Launch

Once the testing or staging website is properly tested and signed-off by the client, I make a backup of the website files, all custom code and the database and move the website to the live domain, making it active.

Let me build your website.

After Launch

Maintain, Maintain, Maintain

“The unfortunate truth about many [website developers] and agencies within the web design industry is that their services ultimately cease as soon as the bill has been paid.”

 

“This can be a real monkey wrench in a client’s post launch plans, as they’re often left to navigate a new and unfamiliar CMS platform, without any guidance from the team who implemented it. This isn’t always a matter of competence.”

 

“That’s why many design firms prefer to maintain a support and management relationship with their web development clients. This way, they can be sure of client satisfaction while maintaining the integrity of their overall product. Moreover, they can educate clients and ensure their business moves towards prosperity and prominence.”

Shopify.com (E-commerce Platform)

Content Management and Tools

Your website and it’s content needs to be maintained and kept up to date. Usual website maintenance is not too difficult (if you know what you’re doing and if no problems occur), and I prefer to give someone on your team the ability to do this content management for your organisation.

 

I would need to train this person on the Content Management System, but typically content changes are not too technically different to making changes on a say a Powerpoint presentation.

Website Integrity and Performance

Making sure your website performs with the latest web-standards is important to meet performance needs. This is especially true for security vulnerabilities due to exploits in older unpatched website infrastructure.

 

Oftentimes search engines like Google penalise websites with dated infrastructure, as Google promotes the fastest, most relevant websites to their search audience.

 

Load Time is also a factor, as you’ll be losing 10% of your users (bounce rate) after then waiting just 2 seconds too long on your website.

 

Third-party systems on websites provide a valuable experience to their users e.g. a chatbot or a weather app. These custom solutions require updates and maintenance so communications are not cut between the website and the integrated third-party systems.

Security and maintenance

It’s always best to keep your website up to the latest version of themes, plugins and code in general. 

 

Old(er), unpatched code can be a vulnerability, and create an easy access backdoor leading to your website being hacked, or used for ill-intended purposes.

 

Regular backups are generally considered the best line of defence against hacked websites.

 

I also provide an option to restore websites by searching the code for the attack, and removing or replacing affected files.

Audience and Engagement

In the same vein of “getting to know your site better,” concentrating on SEO and analytics will give you insight into how your users find your site using search engines like Google and other search engines (i.e., organic traffic) and how users navigate around your site (i.e., engagement metrics).

 

You can take these findings and implement specific content and technical changes to improve the way people find and engage with your site, and ultimately engage with your business.

Troubleshooting

Sometimes you find things on your newly launched website that you want to change.

Perhaps your users simply aren’t using a page as anticipated or a plugin doesn’t maximize the user experience as you hoped it would. It’s best to address this right away with a quick and timely troubleshooting session.

Training

Web design folks sometimes believe that our work is technology-based. But I believe our work is still primarily people-based.

 

Generally speaking most projects have a in-person training module scheduled before the new site goes into a hard launch. 

 

If you opt to manage and maintain your own website after launch I can provide training on how the website is setup, how to make changes and how best to maintain the website, so that your staff have an understanding of the website, and so they can do tasks themselves.

 

This may be a cost-effective solution if there is someone on your team willing to take on the role and responsibility.

 

I can also create a website operations manual or easy to follow guide for your team members.

Do you need website maintenance services, on an ad-hoc or retainer basis?

Creative Design from Cape Town, South Africa.

Get in touch with Kishan