Good planning will not only hit your marketing goals on the nose, it will save untold hours of unnecessary work and frenzied communications. While a project can evolve and change as new needs arise, it is vital to consider each phase as building on the one it follows. If you haven’t decided who your customer base is going to be, how can you target a user experience for them? Alternately, if you decide halfway through to add an exciting new type of product or service to your lineup, shouldn’t you revisit your foundation work and make sure it is appropriately represented?
The Steps To Creating Your Website
Phase 1, Branding and Goals
This is both “Getting to Know You” and creating a list of deliverables/problems to solve. Do you need a simple homepage for your business? A way to offer a promotion and generate leads for your sales team? Would you like to get set up for organic search traffic? This is also the time to weight your goals against each other, and decide how much effort (and money) you’d like to put towards each of them.
Phase 2: Site Planning and Content Organization
In this phase we’ll organize the site in an easy-to-navigate fashion and make sure the most important things are prominently featured. For a simple site this could be laid out in a single flow chart, or for larger sites it may require a wireframe – a barebones, unstyled, black-and-white clickable walkthrough of the site.
Phase 3: The Graphics and Design of the Site
Your designer will use your logo, brand guidelines, design brief, and site plan to create one or more page designs for you. You may be presented with a series of sketches which are then refined according to your feedback into a final full-color, high-fidelity mockup. Or, you may be given several completed mockups and asked to choose one with potential revisions – it all depends on your design studio. At this stage you’ll have something to show your employees, PR firm, or media relations team so that they can gear up for the site’s upcoming launch.
Phase 4: Development and Programming
At this step you now know what the site is going to look like, what users can accomplish, and how it’s going to behave. The site is ready for programming/web development, in which all of your features are implemented and styled to your approved design.
Phase 5: Testing, Quality Assurance
You probably thought you were ready to launch, right? Well not so fast. Sure, your developer(s) and/or test team have tested their hearts out in an attempt to find any holes in the site. But let’s all do a run-through one more time, this means you (the client) too, and see if we can’t find any more errors…. You know, the kind made by people who don’t think like a web professional. It’s like they say, “trouble” rolls downhill, and you the site owner will be at the very bottom of that hill when any trouble hits. Alternately, pay your website professional a retainer to be on a very short lease and have time allotted for you in the event you need it.
Phase 6: Launch Your New Website
Deploy your website and promote it according to your marketing plan. Shout it to the rooftops, collect feedback, and let your website analytics start collecting data on your visitors. Congratulate yourself and remind anyone in your company who has been assigned to update the website that you are watching them, and they better do those updates.