At the initial meeting, we'll discuss your project requirements before drafting any proposals and detailed plans. It's also a chance for you to quiz us about what we can do for you.
We'll send you a brief questionnaire to complete prior to the meeting. That way we can get an early handle on your project before we talk. (We don't mind if you use the same answers to send to other potential providers. In fact, we like for you to have a direct comparison of our services...)
What we'll cover...
- Your overall goals - what type of website do you want and what you want it to do? (For example - do you want to sell products online? Create a staff training website? Build a recruitment portal?). We may be able to suggest ideas and functionality that you haven't yet considered.
- Your customers - who are you trying to reach? What do you want visitors to do when they arrive at your site? What kind of functionality will they expect?
- Your expectations - what are your aims for the project? For example, do you want to increase sales by a certain amount, increase enquiries, or create a memorable user experience? If you have metrics you'd like to measure, it's helpful to share them with us.
- Special functions and features - do you have any extra requirements (such as social media functions or iPhone applications)? Perhaps you have to work with specific technology or hardware?
- Hosting requirements - do you need us to help you with site hosting or server maintenance?
- Your budget - while you may not want to disclose a specific figure at this stage, it helps to discuss rough costs. We can create bespoke plans and schedules based on your budget. (See how our web design fees break down).
- Your timescales - do you have any deadlines in mind? When do you want work to begin?
Once we've established exactly what you're looking for, we can draft a website project plan to make it happen. This enables us to provide you with the most accurate possible proposal.
Here are some key steps in our website project planning stage:
- Collect all of the information gathered from our initial meeting and discuss strategies with senior designers and developers.
- Assess your functional requirements - consider how best to direct the in-house skills we have and whether we need to call in our trusted partners (for example for video content, flash animations etc.)
- Factor in any technical specifications - for example, if your site needs to be compatible with a particular system, or if you need us to work on an iPhone-ready version of the site.
- Analyse your competitors - we'll run early checks on your competitors to find out what they're doing well and where they can be beaten in terms of functionality and user experience.
- Work out timescales - if you've got strict deadlines to meet then obviously that will affect our scheduling (if needs be we can arrange a staggered launch, with additional functionality added at a later date).
- User profiles and usability - at this stage we may perform basic consumer research, creating simple user personae which help us map out how people might navigate your site.
- Aesthetics - we'll consider your business identity, as well as any brand guidelines you may have. We may develop colour schemes and concepts as a starting point for discussion.
Our web development project proposal is the result of our initial meetings with you and the findings from our extensive planning process.
It's a chance for you to see that we understand your business and project goals, and for us to demonstrate that we can deliver the best possible results. Included will be:
- A fixed price quote
- Accurate timescales
- Detailed breakdown of work required
- Further suggestions and ideas
- Free support and warranty details
A full explanation of what you'll be paying for and what you'll get for free (such as post-build technical support) helps avoid any hidden costs.
The proposal will be supported with a number of graphics (such as site maps and design concepts). In more detail, the proposal will include:
- Project overview - featuring project goals, main targets for delivery, and key expectations. It's something both parties can refer to for the duration of the project.
- A breakdown of the process - with details of when first drafts and wireframes will be viewable. (We'll also go into brief detail on the technology and programming languages used.)
- Timescales - with realistic, achievable target dates (that are usually surprisingly fast). We've built enough websites to know how to create an accurate schedule.
- Compatibility and viewing specifications - for browsers, mobile devices and different screens. We'll also confirm the formats and resolutions of any logo and graphic files we send over.
- Training and consultancy - if you've requested further training, we'll explain how we'll liaise with you to make it happen.
- Full information about free warranty periods and free technical support.
- Hosting and website server maintenance details (if requested).
- A full, fixed price quote for all work (with detailed price breakdown).
If you give our proposal the green light, then the next step is our website development process.
We believe in transparency - so we encourage clients to use our development server to check progress at regular intervals. The project will be coordinated by your dedicated website project manager who is your first point of contact for all information and queries.
Function before form
All of our sites are built from the inside out, focusing on how to make it work first, then adding the look and feel. At this stage we'll pool all of the knowledge gathered in the meeting, planning and proposal stages.
We'll then set out our schedule, focusing on:
- Setting roles for different tasks (from HTML coding to site mapping)
- The programming languages we'll need to built your site
- Basic usability principles
- Specific functions required (such as payment processing, subscriptions etc.)
- The content management system
Your online identity
Once we're finished with the technical specifications, we'll start on crafting your brand and identity. The web design process usually follows these steps:
- Establishing what you do and don't like. We'll look at a variety of sites and view any existing brand guidelines. From that we can get an idea of what you want your brand to communicate to your customers.
- We'll mock up some preliminary designs of your home page and several internal pages (you can choose what you want us to focus on). We'll then present them to you for approval.
- Following your feedback, we'll make any changes to our graphics and website design process.
Usability in mind
Once we have a clear idea of our technical and creative directions, we spend time examining site usability. For example:
- What will most users want to achieve when visiting the site?
- How can we make this as easy as possible for them?
- Where are they most likely to enter the site? (It's not always the homepage.)
- What do you (the client) want site visitors to do?
- How can we best encourage visitors to do this?
With all of this in mind, and with our templates and designs approved, the next stage is to create an HTML prototype of your site. It gives you a clear idea of how the site fits together, with basic functionality and navigation in place. Seeing your website live for the first time can help you decide what is and isn't working.
Final site build
The next step in the web development process is completing your site build. This includes adding any complex functionality (such as login forms, payment processing, forums etc.)
The code we write for your site will be Web Standards-compliant HTML and CSS - ensuring maximum accessibility, as well as high visibility for the search engines.
Testing your site
We test your site right through the website development process. However, at these closing stages it's time to run the website through three rigorous checks:
- Usability tests - is the navigation confusing? How about the wording? Are users performing the tasks you want them to do? We'll run usability tests with a selection of random users for best effect.
- Code, compatibility and coherence - we'll use link checking tools, run each page through the W3C code-checker, assess each page according to our own accessibility checklist, and load your site in every available browser, as well as various mobile devices.
- Load and stress-tests - we use software that simulates heavy traffic to ensure that it can handle the demands of life online.
When all tests are complete and you have signed the project off, we're ready for deployment. All information will be backed up and provided to your technical team (including all design work and images). The site will also undergo final testing in the live environment to ensure everything is running smoothly.
Need website training?
If you've requested training for your team on any aspect of using your site, the content management systems or web design in general, we'll arrange sessions at this point.
It's much easier for both you and us if there's one point of contact throughout the design process. That's why we use dedicated project managers for every client.
Appointing a senior project manager to oversee your web development is the best way to keep things running smoothly. They can:
- Make sure your project stays within budget
- Relay any new information between our designers and your team
- Reduce the potential for confusion and miscommunication
- Bring up issues promptly so that they can be dealt with swiftly and with minimum fuss
- Keep the development process on deadline
- Keep the design team focused on your requirements and project goals
- Assist with ongoing support after the build and deployment
Having dedicated web design project management, we're sure we offer one of the most efficient and accountable development processes of any agency.
At our Company, we don't believe our job is done as soon as your site goes live
That's why we offer straightforward, free technical support for three months on all projects.
We've built lasting relationships with lots of our clients who request ongoing support and training. (In fact, most of our work comes from repeat business and referrals.)
- Free technical support for 3 months
- Warranties and guarantees for all development should anything go wrong
- Training and consultancy for you and your team
- Bespoke support packages if you want us to manage your content updates
- Website maintenance and hosting packages
If you have a question once your site has gone live (even if you simply need a reminder about how a particular feature works), just give us a call. We want to help you get the most from your website, so we're always happy to talk.
We'll also check in with you periodically to ensure that everything is running smoothly.
We're interested in your feedback about how your site is performing.