Although every project I undertake is unique, there is a general 6-stage process that I follow:
I will ask general questions in order to gain an understanding of a project.
- What are the purpose and goals of the website?
- Who is the target audience?
- What content will be published?
- What features are required?
It is useful to identify other sites that can provide inspiration for the project, both visually and in terms of functionality.
At this stage of the project, I evaluate technical solutions that could achieve the goals identified in the research phase. Then I discuss proposed solutions with my client clearly and concisely.
I plan the information structure of the site by creating a site map.
The design phase of the project is where the look-and-feel of the website is decided upon. Based on the research carried out earlier, wireframe mockups are created, and sent to the client for feedback. The client then identifies what they like and don’t, and a general design is decided upon. I then refine this design based on several further rounds of client feedback.
In the development stage, I integrate the visual elements within a framework that performs the technical functions required of the website. I usually do this on a test server, so that my clients can preview the development process and continue to provide feedback.
5: Testing and Delivery
Once the visual and technical functions have all been implemented, I test the website to ensure it works without errors. There are often compatibility issues that prevent websites from displaying in a uniform manner on various browsers and operating systems. To ensure that the site behaves as it should, I test to make sure the following:
- All functions of the website perform as expected
- Layout is consistent on Chrome, Firefox, IE and Safari
- Website is fully accessible on mobiles and tablets
- HTML and CSS code is valid and efficient wherever possible
- Graphics and other elements are optimally compressed
Once I have resolved any errors, I upload the final website to a live server. I then perform some further testing, to ensure that all files have uploaded correctly and that nothing unexpected has happened.
The maintenance stage of the project varies depending on the agreements I have with my clients. Some clients like me to update their sites, while others prefer a hands-on approach.
Many websites I produce use CMS frameworks such as WordPress. These sites require regular updating in order to ensure they are kept secure. Fortunately, much of this process can now be automated. I also set up regular backups to safeguard against loss of data should any unexpected problems occur in the future.