The following is a general list of the steps involved in launching a successful site. Each step may be cycled over several times to try to reach perfection, and several joint steps may be cycled through until we feel that you, the client, are getting both what you’ve asked for and what you need. Each step will be explained in detail further down the page.
- Request For Proposal (RFP) & Requirements Gathering (Design and Code)
- Composites and/or Mockups
- Design and Template Development
- Template Conversion & Code Implementation
- Internal Testing (Alpha)
- Client Test (Beta)
- Go Live (Gold)
Client request for work is received, studied, and responded to with questions and answers as needed. At this time data is starting to be gathered on what will be required to successfully meet the client’s needs on the project. Design issues such as colors, screen size, target market and other essential information is collected. As well, functional requirements for the project are collected and prioritized for later use.
Composite images of site design and layout are created. Possibly more than one, depending on the size of the project. The client picks favoured elements and asks for unwanted aspects to be changed. This may go through a couple rounds until the client is satisfied. Mockups take the flat composite images and turn them into very basic HTMLized versions that “work”. They allow the client to go through the proposed site by clicking on links that take them to other pages. The data on the pages is mocked up or copied from current data and pasted onto the pages. The interaction is minimal and is mainly supplied in the more complex sites to allow the client to really get an understanding of how the flow will be handled. It also allows for changes/corrections to the flow to be made before the actually creation & coding phases.
Designers set to work on the composite(s) that were chosen and turn them into optimized HTML pages. These pages are closer to a working version than a mockup, as some of the functionality will be built in. Then the web developer or programmer will take the pages and make a template for each layout or section in the site. Templates are used for a few reasons:
- They allow changes to be made one time and affect the whole site.
- Layout is kept constant throughout the site, easing the end user experience.
- Allow each section or page in a site to be more modularized, work focus is thereby narrowed down to the essentials.
Client signs off on the design and layout choices, agreeing with a final set that will be used in generating the site.
Site functionality is put in place as specified from requirements collection in phase 1. The templates have dynamic entities put in place and objects are created that collect data from the database(s) and handle correct display on the site. This phase is where the site goes from looking like a site to being a dynamic and engaging working version.
The alpha phase is a round, or several rounds, of internal testing used to get the site looking, feeling, and acting as required. This testing is done by developers and programmers and their peers to try to remove as many bugs as possible. The phase is also used to checklist and make sure that all necessary requirements are included in the site.
Once phases 4 and 5 have been looped through enough times that the production team feels comfortable with showing the site to the client a beta version is put up for client perusal. The client then goes through the site with a fine toothed comb and tries to find as many bugs as possible and can also request small layout and flow changes. This phase may be cycled several times, but an effort to find all bugs/layout changes should be made at every go-round.
Once beta testing is complete the site is launched to the hosting environment and will be viewable to the client’s target audience. The site has “gone gold!”
The site, as is, is guaranteed for a period of time. During this time and problems or bugs will be fixed as agreed. The maintenance phase really goes on for the lifetime of the product, initially as guaranteed, and thereafter as maintenance revisions and patches.