What’s a typical web project? There isn’t one. Websites come in many shapes and sizes. From fully CMS integrated, e-commerce, behemoths with 100s of pages to simple brochure sites with a contact form. Here are the stages involved in most projects.
The project starts with some research. Company history, target markets, competitor sites and other information is gathered to set the scene and define the problem. Site objectives and requirements are provided by the client. It’s useful at this stage to set some targets for the project; ie. more visitors, more newsletter sign-ups, more contact forms filled out, etc.
Next, this information is used to design the site structure and basic layouts. The designs will take the form of wireframes, basic line drawings of where important site features will be placed on the page.
In the project brief the client will identify preferred styles and sites that they like. This information is used to produce design mock-ups. These are non-functional images of what the pages will look like. Some clients will only require one mock-up and some will want to see multiple designs, the choice is yours.
Once the mock-up is refined and approved by the client it’s time to start building! The site functionality is built first and then the elements are styled to match the mock-up. This stage can take anywhere from a few hours to any number of weeks. It all depends on what you want your website to be able to do.
Now it’s time to get the site on line. Once a domain name and hosting package has been arranged the site can go live.
It’s always a good idea to incorporate some user testing into the process. This can be as simple as getting some friends round and asking them to try it out or can be tackled more formally. It’s a good idea to do this as early and as often as possible within a project.
Any of these stages can be cut back or elaborated on, depending on your budget. Some clients need a quick, cheap site and that’s fine. But it’s important to realise that something will have to be sacrificed. Usually it’s the research, design and testing stages that are cut, arguably the most important stages.