6 Phases of the Web Site Design and Development Process
Information GatheringThe first step in designing a successful web site is to gather information. Many things need to be taken into consideration when the look and feel of your site is created. This first step is actually the most important one, as it involves a solid understanding of the company it is created for. It involves a good understanding of you – what your business goals and dreams are, and how the web can be utilized to help you achieve those goals. It is important that your web designer start off by asking a lot of questions to help them understand your business and your needs in a web site. Certain things to consider are: Purpose: What is the purpose of the site? Do you want to provide information, promote a service, sell a produc? Goals: What do you hope to accomplish by building this web site? Two of the more common goals are either to make money or share information. Target Audience: Is there a specific group of people that will help you reach your goals? It is helpful to picture the “ideal” person you want to visit your web site. Consider their age, sex or interests – this will later help determine the best design style for your site. Content: What kind of information will the target audience be looking for on your site? Are they looking for specific information, a particular product or service, online ordering?
PlanningUsing the information gathered from phase one, it is time to put together a plan for your web site. This is the point where a site map is developed. The site map is a list of all main topic areas of the site, as well as sub-topics, if applicable. This serves as a guide as to what content will be on the site, and is essential to developing a consistent, easy to understand navigational system. The end-user of the web site – aka your customer – must be kept in mind when designing your site. These are, after all, the people who will be learning about your service or buying your product. A good user interface creates an easy to navigate web site, and is the basis for this. During the planning phase, your web designer - Bay Street Software - will also help you decide what technologies should be implemented. Elements such as will any contact forms be needed, integration of a shopping cart, image galleries, ability to have users log into the site and manage an account, etc. are discussed when planning your web site.
DesignDrawing from the information gathered up to this point, it’s time to determine the look and feel of your site. Target audience is one of the key factors taken into consideration. A site aimed at teenagers, for example, will look much different than one meant for a financial institution. As part of the design phase, it is also important to incorporate elements such as the company logo or colors to help strengthen the identity of your company on the web site. Your web designer - Bay Street Software - has already created over 20 prototype designs for your web site. These can be found at our Portfolio Page. Here you can view many styles and designs that would work best for you. Our team members are available to help you with this process. Either way, we allow you to view your project throughout the design and development stages. The most important reason for this is that it gives you the opportunity to express your likes and dislikes on the site design. In this phase, communication between both you and the Bay Street Software designer is crucial to ensure that the final web site will match your needs and taste. It is important that you work closely with your designer, exchanging ideas, until you arrive at the final design for your web site. Then development can begin…
DevelopmentThe developmental stage is the point where the web site itself is created. At this time, your web designer will take all of the individual graphic elements from the prototype and use them to create the actual, functional site. We start your site on a Bay Street Software sub domain; http://mysite.baystreetdev.com, here you can view the progress of your site as well as work with your Bay Street Software team member in 'tweeking' the site to be exactly what you want. Elements such as interactive contact forms, or ecommerce shopping carts are implemented and made functional during this phase, as well.
Testing and DeliveryAt this point, your web designer will attend to the final details and test your web site. They will test things such as the complete functionality of forms or other scripts, as well last testing for last minute compatibility issues (viewing differences between different web browsers), ensuring that your web site is optimized to be viewed properly in the most recent browser versions. Bay Street Software designers are well versed in current standards for web site design and development. The basic technologies currently used are HTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets).
As part of testing, we check to be sure that all of the code written for your web site validates. Valid code means that your site meets the current web development standards – this is helpful when checking for issues such as cross-browser compatibility as mentioned above. Once you give your Bay Street Software web designer final approval, it is time to deliver the site. We as your web designers offer domain name registration and all our sites are provided our web hosting services as well. Once these accounts have been setup, and your web is now pointing to your domain, the site should be put through one last run-through. This is just precautionary, to confirm that all files have been uploaded correctly, and that the site continues to be fully functional. Other final details include installation upgrades like SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO is the optimization of you web site with elements such as title, description and keyword tags which help your web site achieve higher rankings in the search engines. The previously mentioned code validation is something that plays a vital role in SEO, as well. There are many strategies that we offer and are available that further enhance the default Drupal / website functionality – many of which directly relate to improving your SEO, as well. There are a lot of details involved in optimizing your web site for the search engines – enough to warrant it’s own discussion. This is a very important step, because even though you now have a web site, you need to make sure that people can find it! This marks the official launch of your site, as it is now viewable to the public.
MaintenanceThe development of your web site is not necessarily over, though. One way to bring repeat visitors to your site is to offer new content or products on a regular basis. Your Bay Street Software web designers will be more than happy to continue working together with you, to update the information on your web site. Bay Street Offers multiple levels of maintenance packages at reduced rates, based on how often you anticipate making changes or additions to your web site. If you prefer to be more hands on, and update your own content, we incorporate into you Drupal site many user friendly tools. These tools, with some basic training, allows you - the website owner - the ability to easily add, change, edit all content on your site. You are given access to a back-end administrative area, where you can use an online text editor (similar to a mini version of Microsoft Word). You’ll be able to edit existing content this way, or if you are feeling more adventurous, you can even add new pages and content yourself. The possibilities are endless! It’s really up to you as far as how comfortable you feel with updating your own web site. Some people prefer to have all the control so that they can make updates to their own web site the minute they decide to do so. Others prefer to hand off the web site entirely, as they have enough tasks on-hand that are more important for them to handle directly. That’s where the help of a your Bay Street Software web designer comes in, once again, as we can take over the web site maintenance for you – one less thing for you to do is always a good thing in these busy times! Other maintenance type items include regular site backups, security upgrades, additional functionality, search engine optimization, social networking management, etc.
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