Web101: What to Expect When Working With a Digital Web Partner
Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - Nathan Walasek
The process of building or re-designing your company’s website can be a daunting task. Part one of the five-part “Web101” series explores what you can expect from the process and your web partner throughout the experience.
The first step of any project is to determine the needs and requirements. Your web partner will likely have a personal consultation with you to gain an understanding of your goals and any challenges you are facing.
If you’re looking into creating a new website for the first time, the web partner will have some very high-level questions for you, such as:
- What does your company do, and how does it work?
- Who are your customers, and how does your company make money?
- What do you hope to gain from having a website?
- Who are your competitors, and what do you like or dislike about their websites?
- What is your long-term vision for the company?
Requests to re-design a website will have some additional questions:
- Who currently manages your website?
- How do your current customers find you online?
- What are the current problems you face, and what do you think can be improved?
With a comprehensive assessment having been performed, your web partner will be able to put forth a well-thought-out proposal.
A successful proposal will make the scope of the project clear to everyone involved. It should:
- Include a synopsis of your business and it’s goals
- Outline what takes place during each stage of the development process
- Provide a rough timeline for each stage
- Offer solutions to problems discovered during the assessment
- Break down the pricing in a transparent way, such as dividing up more complex projects into “phases”
Review this proposal carefully with your team and make sure it addresses all of your needs. Acceptance of the proposal moves us to the design step.
The design stage determines the look-and-feel of your website. A web designer will offer up one or more wireframes to give a rough representation of the structure of the website – how the site is organized and where elements are placed. This non-graphical layout helps solve functionality problems before moving onto a more visual design.
The follow-up to the wireframe is a comprehensive visual design, which represents how the completed website might appear in your browser. It utilizes your company’s branding, includes actual content, and “fills in the blanks” which have been omitted from the wireframes.
Approval of the design signals the start of the development, also known as “programming” or “coding”. Your website now begins to take shape as the team builds out the website’s shell and populates each page with the prepared content.
At this point, your website may be made available to you in a testing environment to get feedback or to show progress. You can click through completed pages, test any special functionality, and see how the site responds on mobile devices.
After successful testing and quality assurance, your web partner should review the entire site with you. Have they accomplished everything outlined in the proposal? Are there any loose-ends or things you may have missed? This is also a good time to receive any training that is necessary for you to make website updates on your own.
Once you’re satisfied, the website will be transferred to a live “production” server and connected to your company’s domain name. Now’s the time to submit your site to search engines and online directories, and let your social media followers know that you’ve got a shiny new website. You’re launched!