With a web development project plan hurdles can be foreseen, targets can be met, and the best possible website delivered. Any professional web design company should have a tried and tested method to follow. (Usually, the longer a company has been around the longer they’ve had to refine this process.)
Most plans can generally be divided into four main stages:
– Initial brief and concepts
– Design & build
– Test and launch
All through the process regular, clear communication between client and developer is essential.
Brief and concepts:
Both parties need to get together to make sure that everyone is focused on the same goals. Questions to raise include:
– What’s the primary purpose of the site? For example – is it to sell products, promote services, offer downloads, create a social network etc.
– Function before form – What do customers need to be able to do on the site?
– What does the client need to do? What technical compatibility issues exist?
– What are the aesthetic requirements? Does the client have any brand guidelines? What about the general look – for example, bright and vivid, or muted and calm?
– How big is the site? How many static pages are required?
– What about search engine optimisation? (Which keywords are being targeted?)
– Who is responsible for what? For example, whose responsibility is creating and providing content (whether written, video, audio or otherwise)?
– What are the targets and deadlines?
In the planning stage the development team takes the information from the brief to create a workable schedule that considers the following:
– What are the key technical aspects and challenges?
– What programming languages are needed?
– Who is responsible for the design concepts?
– Who is responsible for the different development tasks?
– What are the key targets/dates for completion?
– What are the usability issues faced?
Design and Build + Feedback
The design and build stage is the time to get on with the construction. Progress should be monitored at agreed stages. Any problems or ideas that arise during the build should be discussed and acted on quickly, so as to avoid derailing the schedule.
Once a draft template of the site has been created, it’s worth liaising with the client for feedback. Any comments and amendments are easier to incorporate now than after the final step.
Test and launch
Testing means checking every link, image, function and form. It means load-testing the server and individual pages, as well as any payment processing. It means checking compatibility with every available browser, as well as with mobile handsets and PDAs. Ideally, it also means performing usability tests to ensure that users are interacting with the site as intended.
Only once thorough testing is complete is the site ready for launch. Of course, the testing and fine-tuning doesn’t end there – but if you follow this rough outline you should at least be in a good position to go live!