BLUEwebs' design process is a step-by-step guide to insure that the final result is a website that realizes your Internet vision. It serves as a guide about what to expect, what is expected and how to plan for your new website. There are several levels of detail, each designed to gather the information needed for BLUEwebs design, build and launch your website.
This is the opportunity for us to meet - and for you to decide if you would like to proceed with BLUEwebs as your website professional. Our purpose is to understand what you have in mind, the scope of your project, how far along you are, and your needs and your vision and how BLUEwebs can best serve you.
BLUEwebs encourages you to complete and send the Project Planner to us before our Initial Consult. It will give us a comprehensive understanding of what you want. A copy of the email will be sent to you, for your records.
The initial consult is free.
This phase is designed to initiate the process. It consists of two parts: gathering Project Information about what you have in mind is put together and for us to create a "Project Outline" to be reviewed at our Project Consult. Information from this phase is used to begin the Design phase.
BLUEwebs needs additional information to better understand your vision and what you want your website to look like and to do. This includes such details as whether you have a domain name and website currently, what website or competitor websites you like or dislike and why, what pages you expect on your site, and more.
The Project Planner questionnaire is designed to help with this part of our process. If you did not complete it for the our Initial Consult, please do so now. You are encouraged to answer all questions, even if they are not applicable. While the form has been designed to gather information, it may trigger ideas of things you just haven't thought about.
BLUEwebs uses the information from the Initial Consult and the Project Planner to build a Project Outline. Remember: more is better. The Project Outline is an item-by-item detail of what we understand your wants and needs to be, whether the site will be static or dynamic, what technologies will be used, estimated number of pages, etc. It is a critical part of our process for two reasons:
- to insure that what we heard and what you want are the same and
- to build a project estimate.
All information provided to BLUEwebs is considered privileged and proprietary.
After assessing the Project Planner information and my notes from the Initial Consult, the Project Consult will be scheduled to go over the Project Outline to make sure that we understand what you have in mind, what we will deliver and to correct any misconceptions.
We will discuss these options, related expenses, and other relevant aspects of the build. Once in agreement, we will prepare a contract and an edited Project Outline, which will be included with the contract.
Due to the time involved in constructing a Project Outline and should you wish a copy, please understand there is a $210 charge. Once the contract is executed, that cost is absorbed into the project..
The Design Phase is where the Concept is formalized. It consists of 3 parts: Preliminary Workup, Content and Image Submission and Format Approval and Adjustment. Using the approved format and content, the result of this phase is the framework around which the Build phase begins.
Preliminary Concept Workup
The Preliminary Concept Workup has essentially has two parts: a Template Mock up and a Main Menu Flow Chart.
- Template Mock up - The first is to create several "mock up" images of what a page of your website will look like. The template is the "framework" of a website within which all pages are built.
- Main Menu Flow Chart - The other is to lay out a "flow chart" detailing the organizational structure of the site.
If a commercial template is used - and this is often the most economical way to go - the Template Mock Up is unnecessary.
If BLUEwebs designs a custom template, a mock up of the template is created. It is a graphical representation of how a typical page will look. Normally, we will prepare 3 mock ups based on the information provided in our questionnaire and our discussions with you. Site-wide images may will be included if provided to us by now. These representations will form the basis of the site's template. Once they have been completed, they will be sent to you for review. If you accept a design, BLUEwebs will begin the programming the website template according to that design.
If a mock up(s) is not accepted, we expect a detailed outline of what is liked and is not liked and what changes you wish made. It is important that the final, accepted design is what you want because once template programming begins it is very time consuming to make revisions.
A flow chart outline of the site defines the primary or main menu layout of a website. The menu type - horizontal or vertical with or without sub-menu items - will have been determined during the Project Consult. The flow chart outline uses this information and the pages identified to detail how the site will be organized. Approval of the menu structure is as important as the site template choice.
Content and Image Submission
All content – text and images – are provided to BLUEwebs at this stage. Images and text must be digital. Content should be provided within the framework of the menu structure of the website. For example, photos and text about the employees that will be used on the "About Us" page should be in a folder similarly named, product information within a "Products" folder and so forth.
BLUEwebs offers text and image digitizing, copyrighting and image creation. Details are in Services. However, these services are not included in a website design contract unless specified as part of the contract.
Format Approval and Adjustments
This is a review of the Preliminary Concept Workup and Content and Images. Once coding begins in the next phase, changes to the site's layout and structure can be time consuming. Minor changes that don't require much coding or addition or deletion of text can be made; however, any changes desired from here on will be discussed to determine the benefit of the change versus the cost and if they will change the launch date.
Content changes in dynamic (CMS) sites are much less expensive than static websites. In fact, once trained, clients can easily make their own changes or updates to content (images or text), rather than going through BLUEwebs.
The website is built in this phase. The Concept and Design phases are turned into a working website - in a non-public environment. All content and imagery is incorporated into the site template, menus built, page layouts finalized, technologies and functionality incorporated for your review and approval. The site is tested by others and adjusted based on our discussions of their feedback and finalized.
The site build consists of two parts: the template build and the page build. Depending on how much involvement you want during this phase, the site can be made available for your review as it is built, uploaded and tested in a "testing" folder on the WWW.
The template build is the programming and coding that creates the page that's rendered by the browsers, its color palette, and sections, such as the header, menu, footer, content and so forth. Programming for specific needs, like photo galleries, blogs, forms, etc is created here. Folders for images and other content and the internal structure, including all of the pages and internal site links are written are completed. It a database is being used, it is created at this time, as well.
The page build is the incorporation of text and images on each of the pages of the site. Once each page is finished, it will be available for your review and editing and proofing. SEO coding is added at this point. That coding includes page descriptions, individual page titles, alternate tag descriptions, individual, Internet standards compliance, internal page links and any other SEO and HTML coding necessary to finish each page.
There is a tendency at this point to want BLUEwebs to make corrections and changes as each page is built. Instead, we recommend starting a list. While it may seem to make sense to make them now, it is disruptive to the work flow and, more than likely, will entail more "tweaks" than just "moving a photo". Changes and adjustments to the site and pages are made during the next phase, Preliminary Approval and Changes.
Preliminary Changes and Approval
A page by page review of the site is made at this point, noting any fixes, content changes and adjustments that need to be made. Additionally, all links are tested and the functionality of any additional programs like photo galleries and other interactive elements.
The site's appearance, links and functionality is tested in various browsers, at different resolutions for consistency of appearance. However, given the complexity of a website and that every browser renders web pages a little differently, it's not uncommon for individual minor differences to be found. Major changes will be addressed. Please add any differences to the list.
BLUEwebs combines lists (ours and yours) and works through each item on the list. Once all of the tweaks and corrections have been made, the site if ready for the Testing phase.
The site is sent to any number of individuals who have been enlisted to review the site for the purpose of identifying any errors, navigation and link issues, ease of use, etc. They will be asked to formally note anything they think needs to be changed. Attention should be paid to these comments as they can significantly improve a visitor's experience.
Final Changes and Approval
Testing results are discussed and, where appropriate incorporated into the site. If everything meets with your final approval, final preparations are made for the site Launch.
Final preparations include adding several additional files and coding to your site to optimize it for the search engines: a "robots" text file to guide the robots to specific pages and to limit them from pages they don’t need to index, an xml file which is submitted to the search engines and coding added to track how visitors navigate through the site. Once all this has been completed, the site is ready to be Launched.
The Launch phase is just that, the finalized site from the Build phase is uploaded into a live - public - environment. Invariably, small tweaks will need to be made so that the site renders properly on the hosting server. Here’s the payoff: enjoying your effort by navigating through your site and appreciating how good it looks, how effective it is and how proud you are of the outcome. And you should be; bringing a vision to life is a labor of love and hard work. Contact BLUEwebs about how we can help you realize your Internet vision!
While not "technically" part of the design/build process, it is an important part of having a website on the WWW. BLUEwebs encourages that a regular review and maintenance schedule be implemented.
Maintenance - Static Site
Typically a static site doesn't change very much and has few, if any, dynamic components. Consequently, a periodic inspection schedule should be set up to simply review the site to make sure it hasn't been defaced or hacked. BLUEwebs recommends a least a quarterly schedule.
This is not to say that it will be hacked, but the reality is that there are mischievous persons in this world who enjoy doing things like this. More criminal elements can add unwanted code to a site. Regular inspection will spot these problems.
More probably, outdated information might be found, a service discontinued or added, operation times changed. location changed or added, etc. A recent client with a static site was announcing an event that occurred two years ago.
Maintenance - Dynamic Site
Maintenance on a dynamic site is required more often because of the use of a variety of programs that drive the dynamic quality of the site. These programs can be susceptible to hacking if they are not current. Consequently, a regular schedule of inspection and updating of the site and its components is strongly recommended. Periodic backups of the site should be made and the backup file stored on your computer or disk that is kept in a safe place. Should something happen, the backup can be easily applied and the site will be returned to a pristine state.
This activity is not part of BLUEwebs' basic website contract. Should you wish BLUEwebs to perform these services for you, please let us know and we will incorporate maintenance schedule as part of the contract.
Using an "old" backup to restore a website means that any information added since the last backup will be lost. Backup often.
The "More/Close" function applied to each of these items is an example a dynamic function that can easily be added to a website. It has two major advantages. Information is relatively concise giving a visitor quick references without having to wade through information they aren't yet interested in. And second, all of the page information is on a single page, improving the chance it will be indexed by search engines.