Building a complete and effective website truly is a process. In this post, we’ll take a brief look at the various steps that lead to creating a successful web design project plan. Of course, this will vary from case to case, but this is a pretty standard order of events.
Developing a Project Plan
1. Needs Analysis
I believe that it’s important to have a good idea of what you want or need from your website before you really get into creating a web design project plan. Some business owners that decide to have a website built or redesigned simply don’t consider exactly why they are doing it, and what they need to get out of the final product. This is a critical first step because without knowing exactly where you want the project to go, it will come up short in one way or another.
Take some time and think about your customers and website visitors. What specifically will they need from your website, and what style of site are they going to appreciate? What is it that your business needs from the website?
2. Finding the Right Designer
Finding the right designer/developer for your specific project is also critical. I feel that a needs analysis should be done prior to choosing a designer, because the designer that you choose should be a good fit for the needs of your website. Many business owners simply hire a designer without really paying attention to their strengths and weaknesses, and then they expect to get the best results without necessarily having a good fit.
3. Establishment of Priorities
Once the designer has been chosen, the client and designer should discuss the needs of the client and establish some priorities for the project. Laying out these priorities will help ensure that your web design project plan will directly address what exactly the client is looking for, and ideally the discussion between the two parties will help to create some clarity for the designer about the appropriate direction to pursue.
Now that the designer knows what is needed, he or she can start working on the first mockup of the site. Many designers start the process by working in Photoshop to create a mockup, so that changes and revisions can be made quickly, and to avoid taking the time to code something that the client may not like. Once the mockup is complete it can be presented for feedback.
5. Implementation of Feedback
In order to get a website that will ultimately meet the needs of your business, you need to be involved in the process by sharing your opinions and suggestions with the designer. No designer will know your business or your customers like you do. There is usually a good bit of back and forth between the designer and the client at this stage before the project reaches the satisfaction of everyone.
Once the design is pretty much in place and both the designer and the client are satisfied, testing should begin. Throughout the earlier stages the designer has most likely been doing some type of testing in various browsers to be sure that the site is ok in all of the major browsers, but the testing will often go a bit further at this point. This is a good time for the client to also scour the site and make sure that there are no mistakes or inaccuracies anywhere.
7. Final Design
Now that both parties are satisfied and the necessary testing is complete, any final changes or corrections should be made. This could be something that resulted from testing, or just correcting some typos, dead links, etc. At this stage the site is essentially complete.
Once the site is ready to be seen by the world, the official launch should take place. At this time the site goes live and visitors will see the finished product. Frequently when a website is redesigned, the business will contact existing customers or members of a mailing address to notify them of the redesign and let them know about some new features that are available at the site. From my experience this is an important part of the process because you can generate some buzz from people who are already familiar with you, and you can get a quick jump in traffic during the first few days following the launch.
9. Marketing & Promotions
Almost all successful websites will need to be marketed or promoted in some way. In order to get the most out of the website, a marketing plan should be developed. You’ve spent time and money building a great website, now you need to get people to see it.
10. Plans for Updates/Changes/Additions
Every website will need to be updated at some point, and some will be updated almost constantly. How frequently will your site need to be updated and who will be responsible for making the changes? You may want to continue to hire the designer to perform these services, or you could hire someone else or keep it within your company. What strategy you choose should fit the needs of your business, but it should certainly be considered or you’ll find yourself with outdated content on your site a few months down the road.