At this point in the process, 80% of our work is done! We did a Web Design Workshop to determine exactly what the site needs, we organized the information architecture, and designed the page templates. It’s finally time to build the thing! Before we do this, we pull together really specific directions on the architecture and functionality of the site so he or she can build it to spec. This is usually detailed in a Powerpoint document. We also hand off layered Photoshop files of the page templates so that the developer can utilize the design elements we’ve created and make the site look exactly as we want. Then everything gets zipped up and handed off to our web developer.
Finalizing the Content
What’s next for you to do? Now is the time to gather all of the content the site will display: text and images. Presumably, we’ve discussed this already so we’ve been working on gathering and editing content throughout the process. In general, the more actual content we have while we’re designing the site the better. If you’re using content from your existing site, consider a re-write to freshen it up, especially if we’ve done a branding exercise that revealed some holes in your brand communication.
It’s best to hand off all the final content to the developer along with the IA and design files. But if you haven’t made the deadline, don’t fret. We can use it to test out the beta site once it’s done.
Web Site Beta Review
Once the developer has finished creating the beta site, it’s my job to be sure everything is working properly. So I take a swing through the entire site and do a thorough QA review. This usually results in a punch list of little things that need to be fixed. Just like redoing a kitchen.
Once the kinks are worked out, I will send the beta website link for you to review. Your job is to go through it very carefully to be sure the content is correct. At this point, it is possible to make substantial changes to the functionality of the site, but this generally will add cost to the site build so we don’t recommend it.
Most of the websites we are building these days are built in WordPress, which has a mercifully easy-to-learn backend CMS (Content Management System). We do this so that you can update the site whenever you like, without incurring extra costs from the pesky web designer. But, still, you need to learn how to navigate through it and see where everything is. This takes about an hour and can be done over the phone. Easy!
At this point, any final edits should be made so that we can…
Launch the Website!
Once you’ve nodded your head in approval, we launch the site. This might involve moving the website to a new hosting service, or archiving your old site and installing the new one on your web server. Either way, once the pages are live the world will see your shiny new website and we hope you are very happy with the result. We work hard to make it great.