website development: a phased approach

contents

The essentials

Our approach

We build WordPress websites, and we start with a stripped-down framework that supports an open-ended development process and that loads quickly and efficiently.

Websites are inherently complicated but we try to make it easy for you. We provide training, documentation, and create outcomes that do not require you to know coding.

We believe website design is basically a software development process, and we use a database approach to manage content to make it easy for managers and users. A database of events, for example, means that you key an event record once and information can be accessed throughout the site. Databases can include things like staff, programs, products, projects, or departments.

We use blocks to make it easy to manage content, and we customize them to do exactly the job they’re supposed to do. We might create a block that displays a certain type of document, or that display a random positive quote about your organization, or a block that describes a staff member. The goal with blocks is to make it easy to create content without requiring coding.

We avoid products that are laden with complex features because we find they are prone to breaking and are often difficult to customize.


project phases

This is how we build websites. We use a common-sense-based approach in which every step resolves an important question that leads into the next step.

planning

We will discuss your project in detail to make sure we understand why you need a new website and what you’re trying to achieve. We will discuss important aspects of your project such as your audience, your products and services, resources, and budget.

sitemap and wireframing

Once we have all the information we need, we create a visual sitemap so we are all on the same page about what it is we’re trying to communicate and the best way to structure the information.

In addition, we’ll create wireframes (simplified designs) of key pages that clarify how the information on each page is organized.

Combining the wireframes and the sitemaps will give you a big picture view of the website and how the different pieces fit together.

prototyping

We believe the sooner we can all see and interact with a functional version of the website, the better. You’ll have access to a working prototype that will help you see how our solution will work, including such things as navigation, plugin functionality, form submission, and responsiveness.

Since design isn’t part of this phase of the process, the results won’t be pretty but you can see how our solutions work.

design

We add visual polish to the website, including typography, colors, images, and other elements that are part of your brand.

delivery

We go through a final review process to make sure everything looks and functions as it should. Then we go through a launch process and give you the training you need to manage the content on your own. We build websites for the long term and make sure you have the tools you need to keep it fresh for years to come.

core skills

These are skills we possess in house

  • WordPress development
  • PHP
  • Javascript
  • CSS

capabilities

Our websites are built on the WordPress platform and can be hosted by any company that supports that CMS. Some hosts are better than others, and we are happy to recommend a hosting company that’s a good fit.

core functionality

Every website can include these capabilities:

  • page templates
    • create standardized, customized ways of handling divisions, programs, pages, and organizations, etc.
    • can use customized fields such as images, page links, text, map references, etc.
    • makes it easier for people to add and edit content without knowing code
    • templates will include featured images which can be animated upon page load
  • forms
    • all submissions are permanently recorded and available to site administrators
    • all submissions are secure and accessible only through a password-protected login
    • submissions can be imported into Excel
  • analytics
    • secure access to site traffic, including specifics about languages, location, time spent on site, pages viewed, and a host of demographic information. We recommend Google Analytics to gather site data.
    • options for “heatmaps” that can be displayed for administrators that show which buttons and links get the most use
    • ability to password-protect any page or post so that it can be viewed by people with access to a password
  • security
    • use of plugins to help prevent attacks and help with password and user management3
    • SSL installed throughout the site (so people will see the lock next to the URL on their browser). This will require a host that supports SSL (almost all do).
  • training and documentation
    • the site will be developed to simplify the content management tasks using standard processes and technology that in almost always do not requre knowledge of HTML, CSS, or other coding languages
    • key processes will be documented and available online
    • we walk you through processes upon site launch and can be available to help with training in the event of staff turnover
  • responsiveness and accessibility
    • responsive to work with desktop, tablet, and mobile devices
    • designed for accessibility in terms of
      • fonts being readable
      • buttons and menus using aria tags to assist visually impaired audiences
      • high contrast colors to be used for visually impaired audiences
  • content
    • ability to easily add a wide variety of content within each post, including videos, images, image galleries, text
    • we will give priority to photos of actual clients, staff, etc. and will color correct them as needed but if these photos are not sufficient we will supplement them with stock photos at no additional charge
    • we will have a professional proofreader review all site content prior to launch
    • we will include the option of a newsfeed (i.e. a blog)
  • social media
    • share buttons on every page
    • options to link to social media companies (Facebook, Instagram) of your choice
    • integration with Facebook so that when a page is opted to be shared, key content like featured image, title, and description are automatically populated and don’t have to be added by hand

additional functionality

These are optional features we add to your site:

  • translations
    • will include options for translation tools handling every page through automated means or through manually translation services. For manual translation, we use the WordPress Multilingual Plugin (WPML).

support

support plans available provide access and usually resolution to support requests within 24 hours
support plans provide fast turnaround on enhancements or feature requests (often within three days)

Tell us about your project!
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