Our web development process is based on listening to your needs, thinking about your issues and collaboratively developing solutions.
A guiding principle of this process is no surprises. For each step of the development process we provide you with options, with pros and cons for each option, and make sure you understand the implications of each decision.
Below is a brief summary of our web development process. There's more to it than this of course, but this process is derived from our experience in successfully delivering many websites over the last 17 years.
When we build a new website for you we:
First, we meet with you to listen to what your website needs and priorities are. We then talk further, clarifying these needs and priorities with more detail.
2. Identify user needs
With your help, we look at what your users want from a new website. Depending on budget allocations, this may involve looking at existing research or user feedback, conducting focus groups or running online user surveys with a representative sample of your users.
3. Create value-added solutions
Where possible, we will try and add value by suggesting smart solutions that can provide a richer experience for your target audience members and provide benefits to your organisation such as lower administration costs or increased brand exposure.
It's our experience that designing and building websites involves balancing organisational and user needs against the project constraints of budget, scope and time. Sometimes, there will arise situations where you would like particular content or functionality developed, which exceeds your web budget. In these situations we always adopt the following approach:
- As early as possible, we alert you to the potential extra costs.
- Where possible, we suggest either no or low extra cost alternatives.
- Together, we make a decision on the issue and incorporate this into the specifications.
4. Develop specifications
Based on our findings from our consultation and user needs analysis, we develop a set of website specifications with you. This is a collaborative and iterative exercise where we work up, with your input, 6 key documents that will form the scope of the project:
- Sitemap: a diagram that describes the content hierarchy and site functions of your new website.
- Blueprints: a set of conceptual diagrams that show the way content elements will be organised on all the different page types of your new website.
- Wireframes: a set of detailed schematic diagrams, based on the blueprints, that show how content and site functions will be presented in your new website.
- Functional specification: a concise description of the site functions as well as any special customisations that will need to be applied to your new website.
- Design brief: a document that captures your design requirements, assets, ideas, likes, dislikes as well as a background briefing for our designer.
- Finalised development budget: based on the above specifications, we will present a finalised and fixed development budget for the build of your new website. This budget will only change if you decide to change the scope of the project. Wherever possible, for minor amendments and additions to your site, we deliver these at no extra cost.
- Finalised project timeline: based on the above specifications, we will present a finalised timeline for the project. This timeline will be conservatively framed (to give us a realistic prospect of meeting this timeline) and will define the responsibilities of both the client and the developer.
We believe in taking as long as it takes to get these documents right and accurately define how your website will look and function. Because it is our experience that when you try and shortcut this process by not spending the extra time to define in detail how the site will look and operate, you end up spending more time (and money) later in resolving issues that were not considered in this scoping process.
In short, it's more efficient to work up website layouts and functions on paper in the scoping stage of the project than doing it with actual coding in the development stage later.
5. Design concepts collaboratively
Again, this is a collaborative and iterative exercise where we work with you in firstly developing some initial web concepts (usually a home page and a sample sub-page). Then we select a preferred concept and refine it further, taking on board your feedback and our suggestions, through a number of edit cycles until you are satisfied with these designs.
A further option here may be usability testing of a website prototype with members of your target audience to identify and resolve any issues with the design.
6. Build & test
Using the finished design, we'll build a development site, creating all the required content areas, views and site functions as defined by the signed-off specifications. Then we will test and remediate if necessary, each piece of development. This may also include a migration of content from your existing website where we use custom scripts to automate the migration process.
7. Review and refine
This is what is more formally known as User Acceptance Testing. Here we will sit down with you and together, test each content area and site function against the specifications. If anything doesn't work or present the way it supposed to we go away and fix it. We then come back again and do a further test on the outstanding issues. We keep doing this until you are satisfied.
8. Train your team
We will train your team on how to manage your new website using the Drupal Content Management System (CMS). Depending on your needs, we can either deliver one training session, a set of training sessions for different levels of users (eg web administrators and content publishers) as well as refresher sessions. All training is supported by easy step by step documentation.
9. Go live
Once you are completely happy with your new website and how to operate it we deploy it to one of our high-performance production servers. This may also involve going live with an online advertising campaign to promote your site and setting up regular reporting on website analytics to enable you to track website performance.
9. Support your team
Once we go live with your new website we will still be here to support you by:
- Addressing any site faults (at no extra cost).
- Implementing any requested site amendments or additions.
- Answering any queries you may have.
- Providing strategic advice on future development of your site.
You can either use our support service on an on-call basis or purchase pre-paid support hours (that won't expire) upfront at a lower rate.
10. Plan the next development
An important aspect of web development that many people miss is the planning for the next stage of development. In the euphoria of launching a beautiful new website it's easy to forget that there are things you need to put in place early on to ensure that you are in a good position to develop your website further, such as a:
- development timetable.
- draft development budget.
- set of success indicators for the website (so you will know if you've been successful or not)
- strategy to collect user feedback that will inform your next stage of development such as a 5 minute website survey, a more in-depth survey distributed to your users or remote usability testing.