After speaking with many of our potential web design and development clients, I thought it would be prudent to post a live description of our website design and development process. This can be used for easy reference not only for potential clients but also for people interested in understanding how an effective web design process works.
Our ability to conceive and deliver superior e-business solutions is based on the expertise and the processes we have developed through many years of strategically planning, designing, developing and implementing sophisticated e-business.
There are usually many different people and resources required to bring a project from inception to conclusion. Coordinating and managing these people, resources and the various processes required to develop successful web sites is an area of strategic focus and differentiation for TechWyse and its web development team.
Our staff has extensive software design and development experience and backgrounds directly related to managing the resources involved in a large software design and development project, as well as the key processes required to be successful.
This section of the proposal describes an approach that we would take to define and document the requirements of the project and develop, test and launch the new site.
All of our projects are organized into four distinct steps, each of which is outlined below.
Step 1: Discovery & Design
All of our projects are organized into four distinct steps, each of which is outlined below. In this step of the project we are primarily interested in working closely with the CLIENT stakeholders to further discover and clearly define the functional and business requirements for the new web site. During this phase of the project we begin to design the site both graphically from a look and feel perspective, as well as architecturally from a technical, database and navigation perspective. Everything would be documented and agreed upon prior to beginning development. And because CLIENT is intimately involved in these design and discovery meetings, you will have excellent insight as to how things are to progress and most importantly you will be an integral part of the entire design process.
We will also document the following kinds of information (there may be other items to determine):
- The profile of the target audiences
- Define and document the new site map (navigational layout / content organization) of the web site
- Define and document the product catalog categories and sub categories
- Define and document the common and unique attributes of all product categories
- Define and document the work flow associated with
- Creating user accounts
- Placing orders
- Fulfilling orders
- Updating the product catalog over time
The specific deliverable for this step of the project is an internal design and functional requirements document to be used by the developers in developing the application, and the graphic designers in designing the creative and producing the individual pages of content that comprise the web site.
This information is used to produce a baseline work plan to which the project is tracked and measured against.
Step 2: Creative & Application Development
In Step 1 of the approach all of the specific requirements for the new web site have been determined. In Step 2 we engage in two parallel streams of activity.
The first stream is the Creative Development Process where the project team works together to produce two distinct creative design concepts, which are reviewed and critiqued by the CLIENT stakeholders. These are further refined by TechWyse designers based on feedback in an iterative and interactive process until a final concept is chosen by the CLIENT. This interactive, iterative process is not complete until the CLIENT is completely satisfied and indeed thrilled with the new design concept. Creative concepts will be consistent and based upon the image, brand and color schemes of the CLIENT.
Once the final design concept is chosen, the graphics designer produces all of the required graphics, HTML and CSS templates necessary to build out the entire web site. The HTML pages (PHP or ASP.NET) are produced.
The second stream is the Development Process where the developer programs all of the functional aspects of the web site and works closely with the graphic designer to integrate the creative with the functionality. Specifically the developer is programming the user engine (for logging into the content editor) as well as any other features of the site.
Throughout Step 2 the graphic artist and the developer are consistently “unit testing” their work to ensure it complies with the requirements of the project (target browsers etc.)
Furthermore, during Step 2, you will have full access to the work in progress on one of TechWyse’s multiple staging servers. You are free to “test drive”, evaluate and make recommendations on the progress of the site as you feel necessary. It’s at this time that you’ll be able to use the site for the first time and evaluate decisions made in Step 1. As an example, perhaps an aspect of the navigational model needs to be slightly modified and some changes in the direction of the project have to be made. This is a standard concept in web site development projects and some room for changes of this nature has been accounted for. However, if new features, functionality or changes in how something works are proposed, TechWyse would handle those changes in project scope via the Change Request Process.
At the completion of Step 2 we would have a fully functioning web site adhering to the requirements identified in Step 1 that to the best knowledge of the developers is operating as expected.
Step 3: System & User Acceptance Testing
In Step 2 the entire web site has been developed based on the requirements discovered and documented in Step 1. In Step 3 we release the new web site to our internal QA staff for System Testing; to validate the application as developed has met all of the requirements as documented in Step 1.
Once the remediation is completed, the web site is deployed to our production servers and released to the CLIENT for User Acceptance Testing. User Acceptance Testing is your opportunity to test drive the web site, and perhaps to a small group of target audience users to ensure for yourselves that the site meets all of the requirements identified in Step 1. Having full access to Test Track Pro, we encourage you to record any deficiencies in the web site for remediation.
Once all deficiencies have been corrected and any new changes implemented, the web site is then redeployed to production, thoroughly tested again at which time the web site is ready for Public Launch and ongoing support.
Step 4: Public Launch & Ongoing Support
In Step 3 we ensured the web site is complete and meets the requirements identified in Step 1 and deployed the final version of the web site to the production servers. In Step 4 Public Launch & Ongoing Support we have to complete the installation of the SSL certificate (which provides security for logging into the private area). For many of our clients we wil also offer hour tier 1 website hosting services in either the UNIX or WINDOWS environment.
Our experience has shown that in the first few weeks of the site being “live” is when most of the updates and changes will become apparent and be implemented. The TechWyse web development team offers a one month warranty period where any defects found are corrected free of charge. After the one month warranty period TechWyse will continue to support the site on a time and materials basis, or through one of our predefined (or custom) support contracts.
We hope that this article has provided some insite into the steps taken at TechWyse to effectively define, build and launch a website design and development project.