Our Web Site Design and Development Process


There are numerous steps in the web site design and development process. From gathering initial information, to the creation of your web site, and finally to maintenance to keep your web site up to date.

The exact process will vary depending on the project, but the basics are generally the same.

  • Information Gathering
  • Planning
  • Design
  • Development
  • Testing and Delivery
  • Maintenance

Phase One: Information Gathering


The first step in designing your business 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 good understanding of what your business goals and dreams are, and how the web can be utilized to help you achieve those goals.

Certain things to consider are:

  • Purpose
    What is the purpose of the site? Do you want to provide information, promote a service, sell a product… ?
  • 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…?

Phase Two: Planning


Using 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, we will help you decide what technologies should be implemented. Elements such as interactive forms, ecommerce, flash, etc. are discussed when planning your web site.

 

Phase Three: Design


Drawing 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.

Here we will create one or more prototype designs for your web site and export it as a .jpg image, so you can see what the final design will look like. You will be given access to a secure area so you can view work in progress.

In this phase, communication is crucial to ensure that the final web site will match your needs and taste. It is important that you work closely with us, exchanging ideas, until you arrive at the final design for your web site.

Then development can begin…

 

Phase Four: Development


The developmental stage is the point where the web site itself is created. At this time, we will take all of the individual graphic elements from the prototype and use them to create the actual, functional site.

We will first develop the home page, followed by a “shell” for the interior pages. The shell serves as a template for the content pages of your site, as it contains the main navigational structure for the web site. Once the shell has been created, we will take your content and distribute it throughout the site, in the appropriate areas.

Elements such as interactive contact forms, flash animations or ecommerce shopping carts are implemented and made functional during this phase, as well.

On the technical front, we will code your site in valid XHTML / CSS that complies to current web standards, maximizing functionality, as well as accessibility for as large an audience as possible.

This is tested in the next phase…

 

Phase Five: Testing and Delivery


At this point, we will attend to the final details and test the complete functionality of your site and compatibility issues (viewing differences between different web browsers) to ensuring that your web site is optimized to be viewed properly in the most recent browser versions.

As part of testing, we will 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 us a final approval, it is time to deliver the site. An FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program is used to upload the web site files to your server and put through one last test. This is just precautionary, to confirm that all files have been uploaded correctly, and that the site continues to be fully functional.

This marks the official launch of your site, as it is now viewable to the public.

 

Phase Six: Maintenance


The 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. MaxCreative will be happy to continue working together with you, to help keep your website up-to date.

If you prefer to be more hands on, and update your own content, you will be able to do that through your very own CMS (Content Management System) which will be implemented to your web site.

We work with WordPress as the CMS for our clients, and it will give you the ability to edit the content areas of the web site yourself. 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 as far as updating your own web site. Some clients 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 we come 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 SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SES (Search Engine Submission). This 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 a lot of details involved in optimizing and submitting your web site to the search engines. 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!

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