The Web Design And Development Process

By on 07/10/2014

Ever had an idea and wanted to get a website developed? Or maybe your website is outdated and needs a redesigned. This video explains everything between the idea and the functional website, specifically the process of working with a web design company from concept to completion.

Video Transcript: 

Today, we will be talking about something that is near and dear to me, that I have invested a lot of time with myself and my team, and that is the web development Process. A lot of people may think that when they have this idea or the realization that they need a new website or they have a product and need to have an online presence to sell, they jump fast forward ahead to the finished product and they think about all that “stuff” in the middle between their idea and the finished product, which is a website, as a lot of work. It is a lot of work! You can either have a good experience or a bad experience, and so we have invested a lot of time in creating a remarkable experience and part of that is a lot of built-in processes and communication so that everybody on the team knows what they are responsible for, and that has their piece of the process that they can really work on, and they can make it a most remarkable experience.

So, today, I want to, quickly, go through our process; everybody has their own process and they may be similar, but we have developed a process that we really enjoy working with, and our clients really enjoy working with: we call that our “trail guide”. Let’s walk through this step-by-step just to give you an idea of what’s involved in a web development process, specifically ours, but in general, it will help you understand the thought processes and the work involved from both parties, the client’s and the agency’s, to develop the most remarkable website and have a remarkable experience along the way. So, the first step is the Estimate process. It is kind of a process in its “own”, but the thing to remember about the estimate, is it is not always exactly right. You know you invest time coming up with all the deliverables and all of the things that you want your website to have, but the agency doesn’t know as much about you or your process, or about your product or idea yet, so the Estimate we like to look at as a high level estimate of what we know and this what we think it is going to cost to do this. At that point, the customer either decides that, “Yes, this is the right direction for me”, “This is the wrong direction for me” or “I’d like to know more”.

So, the 2nd step we built-in is our Audit process. This is where we bring all our entire team together and we do something a little different. We use this Audit process as a “kick start” to really get to know your business, your goals, your objectives what you want to accomplish, and what product or idea, all those things, that not only go into your website, but also go into your business and your business plan to make sure what we are doing on your website, helps you achieve those goals; there is a big difference between just planning a website and planning a website that helps you to achieve your goals and your growth in the business. We like to be more integrated; that is part of our value proposition. We have an acronym, EASE: Added Value is the “A”; we not only want to help you develop a website, but we want to develop a plan to help you grow, and your website to be a part of that. That is the added value piece of our value proposition.

From there, we have the whole team-we use the whole room- we write on the walls-we just have fun for a couple of hours; from there, we develop a Project plan and we really nail down, if we have the right solution, if we estimated the right solution; a lot of times, we try to make that fit within the estimate we had given, but in the Audit we discover some things that we might not have known, so at that point, we go back and say, “We have a plan- the costs might be a little less, the costs might be a little more, but we think this is the right solution for you”; then, we go from there: Is this the right direction to keep going or do I want to take this project plan and all the deliverables, and all this information that I got from the Audit, and take this to another company that can better fit my needs. We have never had anyone ever take it away but it is an option for you to have that information and take it to another company that is a better fit for you. We want to be your fit; of course, as I said, we have never had that happen, but we have that built into our process so that the customer can make their own decision at that point.

Next, we go to the Creative phase; we do little baby steps with the creative phase: we do a wireframe, which is the architecture of the website, we do style tiles, which are fonts and colors, textures and all the uses of what we think the colors are going to look like, and then we go right into developing what you would see on the website. I am going to skip ahead a bit; the one thing that holds up a website projects is content. One question is: “When should I start the content”? At this point, you should have already started the content. We have built in a copywriter into our process. No one will know your business better than you-that is why you have a business; if everyone knew what it was, than everyone would be in the same business as you! You are having a website developed, you have an idea, a product or a service, and you are good at that; so no one could write it better than you. We have copywriters that will help you write about it; they will talk to you and interview you and help pull the ideas out of your head and they are going to write about it. Then, you are going to share those ideas, and you are going to go back and forth, but the idea is to start early, so that doesn’t hold up. So, when we are ready to start the Creative Design phase, you are already talking to the copywriter-you are already in that process. We know that once we are getting ready for the Development phase, and we are ready to put that content in, we want you to have that ready and we don’t want you pressured; so, start early and get that done.

Next step, we could have milestones along the way; we have lots of milestones built into our process to make sure we are communicating with our customers, to make sure we are pulling that information and letting you know what we need. We like to schedule weekly phone calls and this is your task for this week, so we really are big on communication. There are a lot of different milestones within this process.

The Development phase is where you really get to see this come to life on our development server; we are putting in content, graphics, we are doing all that custom programming, that we are so good at, and you start clicking around on things and can see things are working, it’s getting exciting, and we are talking to you weekly, and you have feedback. We are discovering new things that we might not have known, and along comes the Scope change. We’ve had this happen a lot. How you manage this is what gives the client a good experience and what builds a good relationship between agency and client. Throughout the whole process, there has to be trust built in and there has to be respect built in. So, when we have an idea for you that is going to help your business grow, because we have just discovered this along the way, maybe something just came out in content that no one thought about- wow, this is a great idea, and it is going to have an impact on your company, but it is going to throw it “out of Scope” a little and it is going to cost a little extra; we need to have trust and respect so we can have that conversation. We can say, “This is a Detour, but we think this is a better trail for you to walk down”; you, as the customer, then, can say, “Yes, that can work” or “No, I don’t think that is a good idea”, or “No, I don’t have the extra funds, but let’s think about that for the future, in the next phase”. All those are options. The idea here is that there are going to be Scope changes along the way, but there needs to be an open form of communication; some of these things are good ideas, some of these are not good ideas and some of these should be put off for later.   Some good instances of that happening is, just like I explained, something that was not discovered until late in the process and you will need to take those one at a time; they will be detours on our trail; they might be easier trails to “walk down” or there might be more “scenic views” along the way!  

Eventually, you get back on track and that is where we get on the Testing and Review stages. You have had access to this whole development server for quite some time now, maybe a few weeks, you have a lot of feedback, we’re finding “bugs” and we are all coming together on this Testing and Review phase and we are working out all these things. It is the last 5%; it is the last 5% that is the most important part of the entire project; anybody can do the first 95%, but it is the last 5% that really counts and that, that remarkable experience really comes to life!

After that is finished, we go to the Launch: the big moment, the big waterfall, the Press releases, the “tell your friends”, the social media campaigns-all those things that are the fun part; that’s the part that everybody sees- that’s the part that everybody goes, “This site is awesome; it must have been so easy to put this thing together”. Everybody knows it is a tough process for both agency and the client because it is a trust and it’s a respect working relationship; it is a long relationship. It is not a relationship where you walk into a store and buy something and you walk out. It may be 2, 3, or 4 months depending on size of the project. It is a relationship between the agency and the client and the people at that agency; it is a relationship with the process. You need to be sure that the company you are working with has a process built in to give you that remarkable experience!

I am Joel Black, with Black Bear Design, and I hope this was helpful!

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