Sometimes we find that the client wishes to be as "hands off" as possible, and leave many of the decisions to us, and that is fine after we have gained enough information to work with. Equally, some clients prefer to be much more "hands on", and be actively involved with every step. That is also welcome. It is your project, and the most important part is that you are happy with the end result.
No matter which type of solution we are creating for you; whether it be a static web site consisting of just a few pages, or an enterprise-level comprehensive database-driven web application, the steps we go through remain essentially the same, and we'd like to outline them here.
Over the eighteen years we have been in the business, the one thing that stands out as being crucial to the succesful outcome of a project is communication. This is a two-way street. Clearly, you need to know that we are available to you, and that we will promptly respond to your questions and requests. Equally, the project will go much smoother if the client is available for timely requests for informaton—particularly during the period before actual development begins.
To give you an idea of how the process works, and the different phases involved, we will here outline the different phases of the development process:
1. DiscoveryIt is during this phase that we work to understand the overall objectives of the web site, or web application. All web sites or applications have a purpose. They exist to provide a solution—whether that be a complex business process, or simply to enhance your presence and reputation in your market. It is during this stage of the process that we work to understand what that purpose is; what solution we are providing.
2. PlanningUsing the information from the previous phase, it is during this phase that we investigate all the possible technologies available, and determine the most suitable ones for your particular solution. We will also come up with a site map, which outlines all the pages in the site, their content, and any particular functionality that is performed in those pages. We will also discuss design issues, such as color schemes, "look and feel", and graphic elements.
By the end of the planning stage, the developers and the client should have a very good idea of how the site should look and operate.
3. DesignIt is during this stage that the look of your web site or application will be determined. Any custom graphics will be created, color schemes will be generated, and prototypes created. It is important that there is good communication with your designers during this stage. We may go through a number of prototypes or mock-ups—and we will provide you with access to a private area on the Internet where you can view them, and make suggestions/requests.
4. DevelopmentThis is where you can relax, and leave the heavy lifting to us. If we are creating a web application, then all the programming and database work will be done. We will be filling in the pages with your content, and linking them all together with the navigation scheme. How much you may wish to be involved at this stage is up to you. Depending on the complexity of the site, we may have further questions about details and, if you desire, we can provide you with a private area where you can see progress and ask and respond to any questions you or we may have along the way.
5. TestingAlthough testing is a large part of the development process, it is a known maxim in the industry that developers do not make the best testers. They know the system too well. For this reason, test plans are written, and testing is handed off to specific people to thoroughly test the site to iron out any issues before the site or application is launched. Once we are happy that the site is functioning as it should, we invite you to thoroughly test it yourself.
6. DeliveryOnce you are happy that the site is how you desire, then we will upload it to your hosting service—or our own if we are providing the hosting—and set up the necessary infrastructure such as databases and domain name linking. Your site is now live!
Of course, we are still here to help! Even though Search Engine Optimization (SEO) would have been carefully considered from way back in the planning stage, we will be happy to work with you on getting your site noticed and any future updates and enhancements you may desire.