What to Expect During Project Development
Thank you for considering In House Logic to work with you on your web project! The early discussions and proposal process has given us a plan to move ahead with. But what is the web site development process really going to be like? The outline below will give you an idea of what to expect.
Here’s the normal process that we go through for most web site development projects:
Who is the target audience and what is to be done for them? What special needs to they have? As a small business owner this should be the first step in any marketing decision you make.
Having given the results of the Discovery phase some thought, we put together a Proposal and a separate Agreement document. The Proposal outlines what we plan to build for you, while the Agreement is the foundation of our working contract. It also has the estimate, payment milestones and clearly outlines the responsibilities of each partner.
Acceptance & Deposit:
If you like our Proposal and Agreement, we normally ask for a signed confirmation of the agreement and a 30% non-refundable deposit. This is usually based on the lower end value of the estimated cost of the project.
Design & Infrastructure:
Lots of things happen at this point. First we start organizing hosting and email services if needed. That leads to the early stages of licensing, installing and customizing the Content Management System (CMS) that we’ll use for your site. This is the tool that will eventually give you great control over your online content. This is also where the ‘custom-built’ part of our ‘custom-built web sites’ mantra is most clearly seen. We create all the placeholders for your text and photos (content) and the overall site control elements that will support the pages, articles, galleries and information sections of your web site.
Meanwhile, we’re also starting to consider the front-end or design of your site. Since we never do design work before securing a contract (AKA "spec work") we have two main activities here. If your project calls for a commercial template as the basis of the site design, we’ll be searching for the best options available for your type of project. We only use modern, properly-built templates that support small screens (for phones and tablets) as well as larger desktop screen. This feature is called Responsive Web Design. Since you're never going to find a template that exactly matches your business, we fully expect to have to dismantle and then reassemble any template files to custom-fit your project. We need to do that anyway in order to have our CMS work with the template.
If your site calls for a custom front-end design, we’ll be working with our designers to create something unique for your project. We’ll start by showing you some page mock ups to see if we’re going down the right path. With your feedback we’ll continue to flesh out the designs. Normally we won’t need to design each page of the site. 1-2 primary page layouts are enough to sort out the general design style, font faces, colours, typography and overall page layout. Individual pages will use these as style guides - though they may be altered to fit the needs of that particular page.
This process takes about one-third of the overall project time. It can be a busy time and does require that the client be available to answer questions and provide feedback for design ideas. These early decisions can be meaningful and so we'll go over the pros and cons carefully with you.
Once the template or base design is confirmed we move into heavy development. This is where we create all the display elements for your site and code them to work on a wide range of modern web browsers. This is also the time where we connect the CMS elements we created earlier to the actual pages so that your content can be seen by site visitors.
If you have an e-commerce site a lot of our work will be focused on the shopping cart, search and checkout sections. Information-only sites will see us dealing with articles or blogs, site controls, calls to action, newsletter subscriptions, portfolios, galleries and contact options.
This part of the work takes about half of the time for the overall project. It can also be a frustrating and anxious time for the client as we really don’t have anything to show you… until suddenly we do! It’s this point where the project goes from ideas, chat and graphic mock-ups to a functional web site. For most of our clients this moment can’t come soon enough. But the work is intricate and takes as long as it takes - within the bounds or the agreed budget of course! It’s during this time that the client also has serious homework. While we’re getting the site built, they need to prepare their content such as articles, photos, product shots, pricing tables, testimonials, calls to action and page intros. If the content is not ready when this development stage is completed then the whole project stops dead and deadlines get missed.
Prototype & Testing:
Now that the site is basically working, we need your content. You did read the last section entirely, right? To make sure the site is ready for the real world, we need all the written and graphical content put into the CMS for testing. By this time the client has access to the CMS for content editing and input. We give each client a tour of the CMS and show them how to enter content for display. There is also a tutorial video we've prepared that walks them through the basics if a refresher is ever needed.
The site has to be refined and put through a testing process prior to launch. This is also where we normally include specialized social media, 3rd-party or newsletter subscription systems and other final touches.
Lastly, if your project is a larger one, this is normally the point where a milestone payment is made.
The big day is finally here. After getting the client approval, we take down the old site (if needed) and push the new site into place for the world to see. This doesn’t normally take long, but since it’s going out to the real world for the first time, we’d prefer to do this earlier in the week. That way if there is an issue we are in the office to deal with it for you.
Site launch will also normally trigger the final invoice for the project.
We’ve built the site and now it’s over to you to market and maintain it. We expect there to be some minor tweaks and adjustments as the site gets used in the real world. Any new features and further development are normally handled on a time-and-materials basis from then on.
There are a few points during this process where things can go wrong. However, keeping an open line of discussion and a healthy sense of humour will normally keep things on track.