The Site Development Process
At Darkam Marketing Services we are aware that every significant web project poses unique challenges, but the overall process of developing a complex web site generally follows six major stages that you should think through before constructing your final project planning and proposal documents:
- Site definition and planning
- Information architecture
- Site design
- Site construction
- Site marketing
- Tracking, evaluation, and maintenance
Developing a large web site is a process that may have far-reaching financial, personnel, and public relations consequences for an organization, both during the development of the site and long after its implementation. Too many web sites begin life as unplanned efforts, created by unorganized web developers on outsourcing websites working with a detailed plan of action for the development of your company’s website without fully considering the site’s goals within the context of the organization’s overall mission. Here at Darkam Marketing Services we have outlined our in-house development process below, note that the construction of the pages that make up the web site is one of the last things that takes place in a well-designed project. Consider each step in the process and its impact on your developing project overall plan. We here at Darkam Marketing Services take great care in the planning, design, construction of your companies website.
Site Definition and Planning
This initial stage is where you define your goals and objectives for the web site and begin to collect and analyze the information we’ll need to justify the budget and resources required. This is also the time that you define the scope of the site content, the interactive functionality and technology support required, and the depth and breadth of information resources that you will need to fill out the site and meet your users’ expectations.
Site Production Checklist
Not every site will require detailed attention of every item on the lists below. We offer various website development packages which meet the needs of a broad range of business owners. If you are on your own as an individual or small business, your website development need will be drastically different than some of our larger corporate clients. We at Darkam Marketing Services will develop a comprehensive site development checklist to ensure that all the client’s requirements are being implement in the site design and development process.
Appoint a dedicated project manager to handle all your project requirements.
Here at Darkam Marketing Services you will have a team of experienced and talented programmers working tirelessly to provide the best quality product for our clients. In addition to ensuring quality, the project manager must also make certain that the content that is provided by the client is consistent with the design architecture and the clients design goals.
At this stage you need to detail the content and organization of the web site. The team should inventory all existing content, describe what new content is required, and define the organizational structure of the site. Once a content architecture has been sketched out, you should build small prototypes of parts of the site to test what it feels like to move around within the design. Site mockups are useful for two reasons. First, they are the best way to test site navigation and develop the user interface. The mockups should incorporate enough pages to assess accurately what it’s like to move from menus to content pages. These mockups can be used to test the information architecture with users. Second, creating mockups allows the graphic designers to develop relations between how the site looks and how the navigation interface supports the information design. The key to good design mockups is flexibility early on.
Typical results or contract deliverables at the end of this stage include:
- Detailed site design specification
- Detailed description of site content
- Site maps, thumbnails, outlines, tables of contents
- User-tested wireframes and mockups demonstrating site architecture
- Multiple graphic design and interface design sketches
- Detailed technical support specification
- Browser technology supported
- Connection speed supported
- Web server and server resources
- Proposals to create programming or technology to support specific features of the site
- A schedule for implementing the site design and construction
At this stage the project acquires its look and feel, as the page grid, page design, and overall graphic design standards are created and approved. Now the illustrations, photography, and other graphic or audiovisual content for the site need to be commissioned and created. Research, writing, organizing, assembling, and editing the site’s text content is also performed at this stage. The client must provide a final draft for all website content that will be integrated into the HTML coding. The goal is to produce all the content components and functional programming and have them ready for the final production stage: the construction of the actual web site pages.
Typical products or deliverables at the end of this stage include:
Content components, detailed organization and assembly
- Text, edited and proofread by client.
- Graphic design specifications for all page types
- Finished interface graphics for page templates
- Header and footer graphics, logos, buttons, backgrounds
- Detailed page comps or finished examples of key pages
- Site graphic standards manual for large, complex sites
- Interface design and master page grid templates completed
- Finished html template pages
Functional and Logic Components
- Database tables and programming, interaction prototypes completed
- Search engine designed and tested
Only at this mature stage of the project are the bulk of the site’s web pages constructed and filled out with content. By waiting until you have a detailed site architecture, mature content components, fully tested wireframes and mockups, and a polished page design specification you will minimize the content churning, redundant development efforts, and wasted energy that inevitably result from rushing to create pages too soon. Once the site has been constructed, with all pages completed and all database and programming components linked, it is ready for user testing. Only after the site has been thoroughly tested and refined should you begin to publicize the URL of the site to a larger audience.
Typical Products or Deliverables at the end of this stage should include:
- Finished html for all web pages, all page content in place
- Finished navigation link structure
- All programming in place and linked to pages, ready for user testing
- All database components in place and linked to site pages
- All graphic design, illustration, and photography in place
- Final proofreading of all site content
- Detailed testing of database and programming functionality
- Testing and verification of database reporting features
- Testing of site user support procedures, answering email, etc.
- Archives of all site content components, html code, programming code, and any other site development materials
Maintaining the Site ( Paid Site Maintenance Contracts)
Don’t abandon your site once the production “goes live” and the launch parties are over. The aesthetic and functional aspects of a large web site need constant attention and grooming, particularly if a group of individuals’ shares responsibility for updating content. For paid maintenance packages Darkam Marketing Services will be responsible for coordinating and vetting the new content that is provided by client, maintaining the graphic and editorial standards, and ensuring that the programming and linkages of all pages remain intact and functional. Links on the web are perishable, and you’ll need to check periodically that links to pages outside your immediate site are still working. Don’t let your site go stale by starving it of resources just as you begin to develop an audience—if you disappoint them by not following through, it will be doubly difficult to attract your audience back to the site.
Backups and Site Archives
The site maintenance package will ensure that your web site is regularly backed up onto a secure and reliable storage medium to ensure that a catastrophic hardware failure in your web server does not wipe out your web site. If your site is successful, it will quickly become an important showcase of your company’s products and services, which will build brand awareness and customer loyalty.