We recently shared a checklist of the items we review with clients
prior to developing our proposals and estimates for website projects. As we mentioned then, we’ll be sharing a series of checklists that drive our website development process. This time, we’ll give you a broad overview of the project phases and the workflow our project managers use to keep the team on track.
Our website projects all go through five main phases. We’ve listed these below, along with the main tasks that are completed as a part of each phase. Note that some of these tasks occur concurrently:
Project Launch, Content Creation, and Sitemap Finalization
- Review the site’s basic content needs and finalize the sitemap with client
- Gather sample sites, designs, etc. from the client, along with images to feature on the site
- Allocate staff resources based on the project budget and specific project needs
- Set up project in our internal project management system, TargetProcess.
- Set up the project in Basecamp, the tool we use to collaborate directly with our clients throughout the process.
- Hold a kickoff meeting for the project team (project manager, designer, developer, tester)
- Review and identify content needs, development challenges, timeline
- Determine wireframe needs, number of design templates, any needed functionality
- Review budgeted hours and any deadlines for the project
- Develop needed wireframes. (We start with wireframes rather than full designs—it cuts down a lot of the back and forth with our clients and gives them a vision of the site much earlier in the process.) Get input from the developer on the wireframes, and then final approval from the client.
- Work with the client to begin compiling detailed content for each page of the site
- Make sure we understand our client’s email and DNS needs
- Work with the client to set up any needed accounts – email, social media, calendars, etc.
- Manage domain transfer, if needed
- Ensure all content for the site has been collected
- Create the design for each page template based on wireframes. Any changes from wireframes are communicated to developers.
- Develop any needed forms for the site.
- Designer creates a style sheet for the developer to guide all site styling and layout.
- Get client sign-off on all designs
- Developer reviews our detailed developer checklist to ensure he incorporates all tasks into the development of the site
- The site is set up in the Sitefinity Content Management System (our CMS of choice)
- At this stage in the process, the team meets daily to ensure the project stays on track for completion
- Ensure the site’s search engine optimization fields are all completed properly
- Developer works out a testing plan with our tester – will they test sections as they are completed or all at once? Are there any unique features on this site to be tested?
- Designer and project manager sign off on all pages before they are moved into testing
- Project manager schedules training for the client on how to use the content management system
- Tester has a very thorough testing checklist she works through. The site is tested in all major browsers.
- Tester works with the developer to fix any bugs or other issues discovered.
- Google Analytics is set up for the site.
- When testing is complete, the project manager reviews all tasks in TargetProcess to ensure every item from our various checklists was completed
- Client is given access to the test site to give his/her signoff on the completed site.
Site Goes Live/Post Implementation
- Developer pushes the site live once everyone has signed off on the final product. We typically recommend a client allow 24-48 hours after the site launch to do major publicizing.
- Our administrator submits the site to Google and other major search engines, sets up our site monitoring tools, and wraps up any loose administrative ends on the project.
- Project Manager trains the client on the CMS.
- The team gathers for a wrap-up meeting to discuss: Was the client satisfied with the final project? What went well? What do we need to improve moving forward? How close were our time estimates? What else did we learn?
As you can see, our process is quite thorough, and a minimum of four team members are actively involved in our website projects. We occasionally encounter a prospective client who is surprised by the time it will take to develop a website (typically 6-8 weeks if the content is fairly set, longer if content creation is slow).
We stick to this process as it’s proven to generate higher quality sites and much happier clients.
Next time, we’ll cover our design phase
in more detail.