“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” Steve Jobs
In our many years of working with various clients in varying situations, we’ve narrowed this process down to 4 major functions with which we need our client’s help in order to for us to help them realize their online goals. They are:
And there are 2 main places where the site will bog down and hold up the projected launch time: DESIGN & CONTENT.
The first question that needs an answer is “What type of website do I need?” Nailing this one question can make the difference between a slow, chaotic, unpleasant process and a fast, smooth, easy one. Of course we will help you with ideas and direction, but this is super important and should be answered before we even begin. “Yes,” you ask, “but how?” Keep reading…
FIND YOUR DIRECTION
Work out the purpose and intention of your website. What is it for? What do you want it to do? If you have a clear-cut purpose for your website the rest of the pieces just seem to fall into place.
Reasons to Have A Website
There are many good reasons to have a website. At its most basic form, a website will give one:
The ability to control your own message. The first thing someone will do after meeting you is Google you. Best to have your words about what you do in the mix, ideally with as much of your content at the top.
Helps Establish Your Reputation. This is that double-edged sword: if you have a site up that is out-dated or poorly done, you are shouting to the world that you are outdated and don’t care how you are perceived. This does translate into the amount of calls you receive.
Shows What You Do. Simple enough. But again, if it’s a great site, you look better.
Says What Others Think About You Do. A place for testimonials and praises of your work from happy customers.
Gives You 24/7 Visibility. It’s an ad that just keeps on ticking.
A Place for People to Contact You. We’ve had some high-profile clients who didn’t actually want a Contact page. I don’t know many businesses who have that luxury.
Show Your Roots. Not those kind! This is the company history, if it’s appropriate, gives people more reality on our firm and makes you more real to them.
There are lots of reasons to have a site and they vary subtlely, but the one consistent thing we’ve found is that your site needs to SELL SOMETHING. Even if it’s just the fact that you exist and are open for business.
How this is achieved is how we are different than most Design and Development firms.
This is the second big component of the site. What’s it supposed to look like? “I’m not a designer, that’s why we’re hiring you!” you say. We’ve discovered that one of the main reasons clients hire us is for our approach to design (we get hired by other development firms to do design for them too). You see, our approach is different than a lot of other design houses: we don’t design to win design awards; we design to explode your online business. And here’s how we need your help…
What should it look like?
Now we’re in the realm of design and visual aesthetics. While we are the trained professionals, you should definitely have some idea of what you like, other sites you think are good, colors or patterns, anything we can use as a starting point. Otherwise we can create something we think is just flawless, but if you don’t like it visually you won’t be happy. And all training and experience aside, it’s paramount that you are happy and that your website is something that makes you proud to show off. It’s a good idea to hit the internet, and look around at sites that you like the look of and save those links for us. It’s especially good to know what your competition has. What are they doing that you think works well, or not so well. All that helps.
Team Step 1: Strategy
After you’ve done your Homework, we’ve met and gone over your ideas and our vision on Design as well, and we have all that we think we need to start, we take all of that information and work out the exact strategy and program to efficiently and effectively implement the vision. This includes assigning which team of designers or developers we’ll use or acquiring additional specialists (copywriters, etc.), depending on the scope of the project and when the projected launch date it. This is where we coordinate and organize the entire activity and all its many moving parts – including Design and Content.
Team Step 2: Design
OK, this is mostly us, but we do need approval as we go to make sure we’re heading the right direction. Brand identity, logos, the design of web pages, anything the client needs designed in order to promote their business and show them in the best possible light. This is where it gets done by our genius creative team, using the most current software and the most current design trends but also relying heavily on our years of Marketing training and experience. This is the balance between Art and Commerce, and how to direct your visitors to quickly get them from arrival to action. This is the start of the conversion machine.
This section should probably be first because it tends to take the most man-hours. It’s the “What do you want to say?” part of the build. Sounds simple enough. Some of this gets flushed out during Design but it also drives Design. We recommend digging into this as soon as you start thinking about doing or redoing your site. Here’s what we found that works…
What Are You Saying?
Content is not only, but mostly, words. Content is also imagery and structure. Yes, we’ll recommend imagery and help with structure but you’ll need to know generally what type you want. If you are not a writer, and don’t feel bad if you’re not – many aren’t, we have a digital Rolodex (remember those?) filled with plenty of talented and even some award-winning copywriters who can help you say what you want, the way you want it said. We will help you with structure but Content usually drives this as well: How many pages do you need to fulfill the purpose? If it’s an e-commerce site you need fewer “article” types, but will need tons of effort going into product descriptions, keywords, pricing, etc. If it’s an on-line brochure, how much information do you need? How is your biggest competitor saying what they’re saying? How often you see the content changing is another important question whose answer will effect the build strategy.
Team Step 3 – Development
Yes, this is all us. We don’t ask you to code for us. So now it’s time to break out the Red Bull, apply code and turn all that sexy design into something that functions perfectly on all platforms: computers, tablets, phones, and in all browsers. HTML 5, CSS3, jQuery, PHP, you name it. We program in the most current versions of every web language and when your site launches it will be in the best possible shape for all of your SEO and Marketing efforts.
Team Step 4 – Testing
Of course we test everything we can while we build and while there is no way to predict all possible ways a visitor can mess something up, we do try our hardest to break what we do so your visitors don’t. When we have our working development site we’ll ask you and your team to jump in and help us try and break things because at this stage the more eyes on it the better. This should take at least a couple weeks depending on the size of the site prior to launch date, which will give us time to fix anything uncovered by testing. Once everything is done and in place, all links and forms checked, everything is all approved by the client, we’re Ready to Launch!
Team Step 5 – The Launch
This is the most exciting – and for us the most stressful – part of the process. This is where real users will be finding ways none of us in our wildest dreams could have guessed they would find to break things and pose problems we never saw. So there’s a day or two of scrambling and fixing, followed by a week or so of tweaking and fine-tuning. And after that things settle out and you’re good to go! For now…
Updates & Maintenance
There is a fallacy in businesses concerning websites and that is: “Build It And They Will Come.” We’ve never seen it. The most successful online businesses commit themselves to success by testing, updating and maintaining their online investment. Here’s what you can do…
Team Step 6 – Maintenance
“Aren’t We Done?”
Well, you could be, but one of the best things about a website is the instant feedback you’ll get and ability and inexpensiveness to change things on a dime based on user feedback, analytics, etc. If there’s a design/development firm who claims they can 100% determine how your site users will react and nothing else will be needed, they’re blowing smoke up your… wherever. We’ll certainly get you as close as your Homework and our years of experience will allow but you should have some budget to test various parts of the site for top effectiveness and response.
If you have a WordPress site you need to be checking for updates at least once per month. They are always updating for security reasons and you want to stay on top of those so your site doesn’t get hacked. We have a program designed for just that which you can see here.
We can be hired on monthly retainer to consult and implement changes and updates, or we can be hired on a Time & Materials basis, but either way you want to figure out a system to keep your platform up-to-date, your content fresh and your site optimized for success.
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