Website Development Phases
PLANNING | UX | DEV SPECS |UI| RWD | COPYWRITING | PROGRAMMING
Planning is the discovery phase where we learn the many aspects of your business. We help to develop a branding blueprint which translates to the overall objectives of the website. We use in-person and telephone meetings to formulate fresh ideas, approaches, and concepts which help define your unique selling proposition. During this phase we will explore your personal design preferences, color themes, and content style. We will also review competitor sites, and contrast and compare these sites to current best in class websites.
UX (sitemap, process flow, wireframes)
The UX, or User Experience, is where we create intuitive navigation features. Through process flows, mapping, naming and labeling we create a user experience which allows the user to focus on content instead of how to move throughout the site. The wireframe represents the architectural framework of the site which developers and programmers will reference throughout the project. A wireframe is a low fidelity representation of a design. It should clearly show, a) the main groups of content (what?), b) the structure of information (where?) c) a description and basic visualization of the user – interface interaction (how?), d) contains a representation of every important piece of the final product.
The development specifications, commonly referred to as the”dev spec”, are the written instructions to the programmers how the website should be constructed. The dev specs will define a) URL address for each page, b) access is public or firewalled, c) whether content is dynamic or static, d) responsive mobile design, e) robots.txt file, f)specification on page file size, load times, images, html files, html file size, and objects, f) page title, g) browser tab titles, h) browser tab icon, and i) 301 Redirects.
UI Visual Design Mock-ups (3)
The mock-up is a realistic representation of what the website will look like and is based on concepts developed in the planning phase. A mockup is a middle-to-high fidelity, static, design representation. The mockup is a visual design draft representing the structure of information, visualizes the content and demonstrates the basic functionalities in a static way. Encourages stakeholders to actually review the visual side of the project. The final result can look exactly like the mockup, or be a variation of it after version revisions. Three mock-ups will be presented for review during this project.
UI Visual Design (Final)
Visual design focuses on the aesthetics of a site and its related materials by strategically implementing images, colors, fonts, and other elements. A successful visual design does not take away from the content on the page or function. Instead, it enhances it by engaging users and helping to build trust and interest in the brand.
A successful visual design applies the following principles to elements noted above and effectively brings them together in a way that makes sense: a) Unity has to do with all elements on a page visually or conceptually appearing to belong together. Visual design must strike a balance between unity and variety to avoid a dull or overwhelming design, b) Gestalt, in visual design, helps users perceive the overall design as opposed to individual elements. If the design elements are arranged properly, the Gestalt of the overall design will be very clear, c) Space is “defined when something is placed in it”, according to Alex White in his book,The Elements of Graphic Design. Incorporating space into a design helps reduce noise, increase readability, and/or create illusion. White space is an important part of your layout strategy, d) Hierarchy shows the difference in significance between items. Designers often create hierarchies through different font sizes, colors, and placement on the page. Usually, items at the top are perceived as most important, e) Balance creates the perception that there is equal distribution. This does not always imply that there is symmetry, f) Contrast focuses on making items stand out by emphasizing differences in size, color, direction, and other characteristics, g) Scale identifies a range of sizes; it creates interest and depth by demonstrating how each item relates to each other based on size, h) Dominance focuses on having one element as the focal point and others being subordinate. This is often done through scaling and contrasting based on size, color, position, shape, etc., i) Similarity refers to creating continuity throughout a design without direct duplication. Similarity is used to make pieces work together over an interface and help users learn the interface quicker.
Image Research, Selection and Aquisition
The images selected for the website help deliver the content by enlisting the visual senses in the storytelling. Image selection is often one of the most time consuming tasks in web design.
Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).
A site designed with RWD adapts the layout to the viewing environment by using fluid, proportion-based grids, flexible images, and CSS3 media queries in the following ways: a) the fluid grid concept calls for page element sizing to be in relative units like percentages, rather than absolute units like pixels or points, b) flexible images are also sized in relative units, so as to prevent them from displaying outside their containing element, c) media queries allow the page to use different CSS style rules based on characteristics of the device the site is being displayed on, most commonly the width of the browser.
Copywriting and Editing
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In this phase, the developer, or “coder”, will use the wireframe and development specifications created earlier in the project to begin the process of coding the site. This includes installing the latest version of the CMS and then building a click-thru wireframe of the site by building out the functionality, pages and menus. Once this is done, the html or php pages are built, content and images populated, and SEO components inserted.
As the website concludes its programming phase it will become necessary to make minor adjustments to the RWD to improve the user interface across multiple devices.
Validation & Launch
The testing and launch phase attends to the final details and testing of the web site. The website will be moved from its development URL to a test URL. The test URL will allow our beta testers and client stakeholder to probe the site for bugs, including, a) overall functionality of forms or other scripts, b) compatibility issues (viewing differences between different web browsers), ensuring that the web site is optimized to be viewed properly in the most recent browser versions. Upon final approval, the website will be uploaded to the live server.
Training & Documentation
After the website is uploaded to the Client’s live server, we will provide website documentation and conduct training as necessary to key stakeholders.