We begin with a complimentary consultation, which can be done in person (for Los Angeles clients) or by phone. My “getting started" worksheet can help you organize your thoughts, as you prepare for the initial consultation. We’ll talk about you and your business, what you’re hoping to achieve, and who you want to reach with your website. We’ll talk about how you plan to publicize your site, and how you’d like to keep it current and fresh. You’ll show me existing marketing materials, and we’ll discuss how they’re working for you. I’ll answer any questions you may have about the process, and about your part in the process.
After the consultation, I’ll prepare a detailed proposal, outlining the estimated budget and exactly what elements will be included in the website. If you accept the proposal, I ask for a signed contract, and a retainer of 50% of the estimated budget, and we’re on our way.
We’ll have briefly discussed the look of your site in the initial consultation, and I’ll have asked you to present me with a list of sites that you like and dislike. Adjectives can be so subjective, and your perception of “simple and elegant” or “high tech” or “retro” or “artsy” might be completely different from mine – allowing me to see examples of your taste really streamlines the process. We also use the “like | dislike” sites to zero in on an interface that’s going to help you achieve your goals – there are many ways to organize a site, and we want to choose the way that will be most appealing to your target market. If you have an existing logo or other visual elements that you’ll be using in your site, I’ll need digital versions to use in preparing the design.
Next, I will present you with 2 – 4 “comps” – graphic representations of the final look of your site. You’ll have the opportunity to give me feedback on the design – either via email, a phone session or an in-person session at my office – and I’ll present you with a revised comp, based on your notes. You can generally expect a few rounds of revisions, as we zero in on the perfect design.
Once you’ve approved the design, then I’ll code a “template” that will house your content and install any scripts that might be necessary. I use standards compliant code whenever possible, and I do extensive cross-browser testing to make certain that your site works properly, no matter what operating system or browser is being used to view it.
Meanwhile, you have been working to finalize your content. I’ll need a digital file containing any text, additional photos, etc., which I’ll incorporate into the template. Once I’ve completed the first draft of the site, I’ll submit it to you, and you’ll have the opportunity to give me feedback – again, this can be done via email, a phone session or an in-person session at my office.
Once everything is in place, many clients like to do a “soft launch” – they have the opportunity to release it to a friendly audience, to get some real-world feedback before they release it to the world. We make sure that any interactive elements (forms, email links, shopping carts, blogs, etc) are working perfectly, and that we haven’t overlooked any editorial errors.
We’ll incorporated what we’ve learned from the soft launch, then the site is made live. Depending on your audience, some clients announce a launch through a mailing or a press release; others take it slow and allow the traffic to build via a Search Engine Optimization campaign.
Once a website is launched, we’ll move into a maintenance phase. If the site has been built so that you can maintain it yourself, I’ll make sure that you’re comfortable with that process. I encourage all my clients to “stay in touch” with their sites – choose a day each month when you do a test submission of any forms or other interactive elements, make certain there are no broken links, complete a test transaction, etc. The Internet is constantly evolving, and while I do my best to keep you notified should I hear of a development that might affect your site, it’s ultimately your responsibility to notify me if there are repairs or adjustments that need to be made.
I hope that this demystifies the process a bit. If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.