August 31, 2015

Why Our Web Design Process Works

Wordpress client training for website design & development in Philadelphia

At Push10, two of the most frequently asked questions we hear from our new clients are “How long will it take to redesign my website?” and “What is your web design process?” Our answer? “That depends.”

When considering someone to build and design your new website, you should make sure their web design process aligns with the needs and goals of your project.

When Push10 was just a small team, we didn’t have much of a process. The majority of our clients wanted small, quick and easy sites, so we stuck to the basic key phases. Our process was simple and condensed to meet both timeline and budget requirements. My, how times have changed!

Back to the original question – what’s our web design process? Well, we still maintain the same key phases – plan, design, build, launch and maintain – but each phase has grown to be much more detailed and intricate. Larger sites typically require a more detailed process in order for us to deliver strategic, conceptual and complex websites that are both on time and on-budget.

The key isn’t having the right process, it’s having the right amount of processes. Too much can place a burden on the project, while too little can cause the project to go off-track. Our internal systems and procedures continually morph to meet the demands of specific projects, but typically follow the same general flow. Let’s take a look.

Typical Timeline: 3-4 Weeks

Discovery & Planning
First, a client survey is distributed. This concise and comprehensive questionnaire prompts clients into articulating expectations and gives us insight into the audience and goals of the site. These results are reviewed during our project kickoff meeting with the client. They are the foundation for both the site architecture and the visual/content strategies. After defining the design problems and discovering strategies for solving those problems in an effective yet memorable way, we top off our planning by researching intended audiences and studying the competition.

Content Strategy
After a thorough audit of the current site, we discuss a content strategy for the new site. In this strategy, we walk the client through content to keep, discard and suggest new content to create. Once overall tone, key messaging and calls to action are finalized, we develop a content outline and establish a process for content delivery.

Visual Strategy
The information garnered from the survey serves as the foundation as we begin to research styles, colors, type and rough layouts. This research is combined into a document and presented for client review.

Site Architecture
The content and visual strategies come together to form the site map and wireframes for key pages of the site. For sites with complex functionality, clickable wireframes may be created, documenting site flow and user experience.

Content Delivery and/or Creation
All of the materials for the site (text, photos, etc.) are gathered and organized. If required, the team will create new copy and fill out the new site structure.

Detailed Project Specs
The information gathered during the planning phase is used to determine a concise, specific set of site requirements.

Typical Timeline: 4-6 Weeks

User Interface Design
At Push10, we approach each project with a clear slate. We develop ideas to visually express the core message established in the creative planning phase. Every choice in the initial designs we present – from layout and color to type size and style – is made with key communication goals in mind. Upon approval of the homepage design, we create templates for each main section of the website. The number of interior page template designs varies, depending on the amount and variety of content on the site.

Presentation & Client Feedback
At key points throughout the process, clients have the opportunity to view comps on our development server and offer feedback along the way.

File Prep
The design source files are prepped, optimized and handed off to the development team for implementation into the CMS.

Style Guide
For some large sites, we need to create a comprehensive style guide. This is used as a reference during the development phase, as well as future website maintenance. This guide serves to communicate many details about the various design elements employed on the site.

Typical Timeline: 8-16 Weeks

Front-End Development
During this time, a homepage and a set of master page templates are created. These will serve as the foundation for a custom WordPress theme. The pages are fully responsive in order to provide optimal viewing experiences across a wide variety of devices.

Implement Theme into CMS
Then, we will implement the theme into the back-end of WordPress. We install a full set of plugins and customize the CMS as needed to achieve the requested functionality per the planning documents.

Populate Page Content
Once all site content and copy are complete, the remaining site pages are constructed and populated with content and properly formatted per the style guide.

Typical Timeline: 2-3 Weeks

At last, the moment we’ve all been waiting for — launch day! However, launching a website is much more than pressing a “launch” button; it requires careful planning and a regimented process.

Testing & QA
First, our team tests the site throughout the development process and then again upon completion. It must pass a rigorous set of tests on platforms, devices, and browsers, ensuring it works for Mac, Windows, Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, as well as iOS and Android tablets and smartphones. Once we feel confident in the functionality of the new site, we can move on to training.

Client Training
Before launch, we hold a WordPress training session for our client. In this course, our client learns how to add, edit and/or remove content to finalize the site and prepare for launch.

Hosting Plan
Push10 does not resell hosting services. As such, each new site requires a hosting plan be in place a week prior to the expected launch date. If clients are happy with their current hosting package, they may be able to stay with their current vendor, assuming they meet the minimum WordPress hosting requirements. If we determine they need a more reliable and robust host, we provide consultation and assistance with the move to the new host.

Upload Files, Final Testing
On launch day, we upload and configure the files on the live server. Once complete, the site undergoes a final series of tests in accordance with our launch checklist.

Pointing the DNS settings to the new site makes the site visible to the public. As with any changes in DNS settings, it can take up to 24 hours for the launch to propagate across the Internet.

Post-Launch Maintenance
Here at Push10, we don’t believe in “set it and forget it”. Instead, our team is available to assist with post-launch maintenance of your new site including backups, updates, and ongoing client support.

Additional Interactive Marketing Projects
From comprehensive search engine optimization to social media marketing to e-mail newsletters, Push10 will research and recommend the most effective interactive marketing strategies to promote the new site.

A Final Word
So, there you have it. Our current web design process (at its most basic form). As for defining the perfect web design process for you?  Well, “That depends”.