Our Basic Process
It starts with an idea...
When you decide that you want a website the first question you should ask your self is, "why?". What will be the purpose of your website? What do you hope to gain from having a website? These questions are very important because they will help us decide what direction to go with your site. They will help us choose a platform (more about that in a minute) and come up with relevant content. Think about who will be looking at your website and what will make your website more interesting to them. Sometimes it can be helpful to look at other websites if you are having trouble coming up with ideas. We don't agree with using anything directly and neither does Uncle Sam but you might spark some ideas of your own with a little inspiration.
As you come up with ideas, share them with your project manager. We will use your ideas along with some of our own to create a custom design for your site that perfectly matches your organization's atmosphere and style.
Platform or Custom?
Next, we need to decide whether to use a platform or custom code to design your website.
A platform is a set of files containing pre-built code which creates the basic structure for a specific type of website. Wordpress, for example, is a blog style platform, and Magento is an ecommerce style platform. Most platforms, including the two previously mentioned, utilize a content management system where you can edit website content from a control panel built into the system. This is a great option for any customer who wants constant control over the content of their own website.
We will decide if you are going to use a platform or not based on what type of content you will be displaying and the complexity of customizations your site may need. In some cases using a platform is the obvious choice. A blogging platform would be best suited for a basic blog site because its functionality and appearance can be easily edited while it's ability to process your blog posts and replies is built in to the platform itself. This can save you a lot of time and money over a custom coded blog site, however you may be limited in some ways. Most ecommerce websites also use a platform because of the large amount of time and money that has to be invested in a completely custom ecommerce site.
A custom coded website, in many cases, is the best choice. Custom websites are not bound by the limitations of a platform and in most cases will perform to a much higher standard. Not all custom websites have high costs and in many cases can be less expensive to build and maintain that a typical platform.
We will need some of your basic business information for various purposes during the development and design process. This information will be used to register for services as well as for the purpose of being displayed on your site. View the list below for some examples of information we might need.
- Business or Organization name
- A logo (or we can create one)
- Pysical Addresses
- Phone numbers
- Fax numbers
- Email addresses
- EIN Number (ecommerce only)
Get a host...
A web hosting account will be needed to store your website for viewing online. In most cases hosting will be purchased from a website hosting service. Another option would be to host a website on your own server. We will help you decide on a hosting plan based on the requirements of your website. Once a host has been chosen we will complete the initial server setup and offer service plans for continued management.
Get a domain name...
A domain name (ex: www.forresterwebservices.com), also known as a uniform resource locator(URL) is a record that points to the IP address of the host server where your website is stored. Choosing a domain name can be difficult, but there are a few things that should be taken into consideration. We beleive that the perfect domain name is short and memorable with relevance to your specific business or organization.
After purchasing a domain name we will be able to route all traffic coming to your domain name directly to the IP address of the host server which is storing your website. This enables viewers to use your domain name to access your website publicly via the world wide web.
What's a website without the content? We are here to help you come up with relevant content for your website, however, it turns out that you know much more about your business than we do. During the development and design process we will ask you for your help in creating content for your website. This information may include an about us page, a description of services page, information about staff members or articles about specific business practices. The type of content required will vary greatly depending on the type of business your website promotes. Your project manager will help you create structured and relevant content to better promote your business or ideas.
Build your site...
Now that we have the necessary services and information, it's time to build your site. We will start by creating a mockup of your website based on the ideas you have given us. This mockup will be an image which can easily be edited to better suit your needs. Once you have approved your layout we will begin on the development process.
At this time, your website will be built or installed on your hosting server. We will use a combination of custom code and platform configurations(if applicable) to create your website layout as well as any special functions required by your site. You will have access to previews during the process to ensure that your project stays on schedule. The development process in most cases will take more time than all of the other steps combined.
An ecommerce website requires much more configuration and customization than a basic informational page. Once we have installed your ecommerce platform on your web hosting server we will start to design and configure your website. Much of this configuration will take place in an admin panel. Your admin panel will be different based on the system but we will be able to configure and access some if not all of the following major features:
- Product catalog
- Gift options
- Website layout
- Extra pages & content
- Email notifications
- Admin users & privileges
- Order processing
- Extensions - advanced customizations to the appearance or functionality of a platform
The list above is for example purposes. Features vary widly based on platform choice.
Security is a very important aspect of running a successful website. When dealing with personal information you must do everything in your power to keep that information safe. For this reason businesses accepting credit cards are required to follow PCI compliance regulations or face fines if a breech ever occurs. Forrester Web Services has the knowledge and tools to secure your website and offers service plans to keep it that way.
The most important part to a successful website is getting found. View the page linked below for information about how we can help you gain positive traffic to your website.
Search Engine Optimization is a great way to gain exposure through free and fee based services. Google and Bing both offer a set of webmaster tools with great SEO capabilities.
Online Marketing such as paid advertising or email campaigns can greatly improve your website's success.
Updates - All websites need code updates over time. This could be to fix display errors on new devices or to update security as technology grows.
Monitoring - Monitoring and testing your website will ensure that if there is an issue it won't go unnoticed.
Backups - It's always good to have a current backup of your website. Technology sometimes fails and when if it does your backup will have your site up and running again, fast.
Contact us today to start your design project.