|Quality process is part of any successful Web
development project. Too often projects go over
budget or past deadline because the developer
hasn't adhered to a quality development process.
Good processes are processes that are consistent,
predictable and results oriented. Any time you
evaluate a Web development partner you should
always review their process and the tools they
provide to facilitate that process. In this paper
we'll outline some of the basic elements of a
Web development project, and what you should expect
from your developer.
First and foremost, your developer has to understand
your business. In some cases this is a fairly
simple task. In others it's a great challenge.
At ITG we use a Project Profile Workbook to do
the initial assessment. The workbook touches on
the basic elements of brand characteristics, business
goals, target users and potential features and
functionality, topics that should be covered in
detail before development work begins in earnest.
Once ITG gets the Project Profile Workbook back
we do a quick sanity check with the potential
client to make sure that there is general agreement
on goals and budgets before a formal proposal
ITG believes that time spent in the Discovery
phase, learning your business model and internal
systems is critical to the success of your Web
site. At the close of the Discovery phase, you
will be provided with a road map for your Web
Step 1: Define your brand
identity and business objectives
The first things we will identify are the unique
characteristics of your brand and your overarching
business goals. If you have existing marketing
collateral that distills this information well,
it will be referenced at this phase of the process.
It is critical that your Web site integrates well
with the rest of your materials.
Step 2: Identify your target
The next step is to identify the primary users
of the site and spend some time outlining their
priorities and general characteristics. This data
will help to hone the look and feel of the site,
and begin to determine the information architecture.
Step 3: Identify the features
Documenting features and functionality, and prioritizing
them, is the final step in pre-production planning.
Step 4: Review the technical
environment and define development approach
Establishing site hosting environment and preferred
technologies helps to determine both the programming
strategy and the development timeline. Recommended
Step 5: User Validation
At this stage you might want to do some cursory
user testing, to reinforce the ideas brought out
during Discovery. Though very early in the process,
this kind of upfront sanity check may help you
avoid mistakes further down the road.
Business Objectives and Brand Identity
Outline of Unique User Types- characteristics,
goals and objectives
Prioritized Feature and Functionality List
Overview of Technical Environment and Development
Project Plan and Budget for the rest of development
Design & Plan
Step 1: Create the Site
Map and Navigational Schema
First we organize and chunk content into logical
groups based on user types and needs. The result
of this exercise is a site map, or visual representation
of the information architecture that will allow
you to see how accessible all of your content
will be on the final site. Included in the site
map is the navigational schema or the "pathways"
that the user will use to access the content.
The site map also identifies all of the unique
pages on the site which are then created in the
design mockups (Step 3: Create Visual Design Mock
Step 2: Business Process
After the site map is agreed upon, we create process
flows for all of the functionality on the site,
such as login, registration, shopping carts, info
request forms or online calculators. These flows
are created based on the information gathered
in the Discovery Phase about your internal systems
and business logic
Step 3: Create Visual Design
Finally we come to the real design work. Once
the site has been completely mapped, we have the
information we need to build the site the right
way, using colors that might appeal to your target
audience, utilizing design themes that reinforce
your brand characteristics and laying out content
in a manner that will speed the transfer of information
and make interacting with your business easy and
We produce design comps, to give you a few different
look and feel options. Each comp takes the users'
needs and brand goals into consideration, but
expresses them in a different way. The idea is
to find the design that most accurately expresses
your unique business personality and values.
Step 4: Create the Interface
Once we've settled on the look and feel of the
site we begin designing the unique pages of the
site. The most detailed pages are done first and
the Homepage is the final page to be designed.
This allows us to bring together the overarching
theme of the site at the end.
Development, Test & Launch
Once the Interface Design is well under way, the
programmers begin to give life to the interactive
elements of the site, and designers move into
Production Design where they flesh out each section
and hook together the pages to bring the site
to life. This is the exciting part of the project
where you get visual representation of the ideas
you came up with during Discovery.
When the site gets to the point where it is functional
as a prototype, user testing commences. It is
invaluable to have your users click through the
prototype, and a simple and inexpensive test plan
can be formulated so that you're absolutely certain
that the site is going to meet their needs. This
will be our last chance to make significant changes
to the information architecture and to alter the
flow of the site before we move into final testing
and quality assurance.
A professionally produced Web site will always
have a minimum of testing and quality assurance
performed on it before it is launched. The kinds
of things that will be reviewed include: browser
compatibility, proofreading, checking for dead-links,
assuring the proper function of any dynamic or
interactive elements, gauging download time and
stress testing to be sure the site can handle
an established volume of traffic.
At last it's time to launch your new Web site.
As part of our monthly maintenance service, ITG
provides clients with 24-hour online Web site
tracking reports that allows you to monitor user
statistics. You can effectively measure your site's
performance through this quantifiable data. Additionally
ITG staff are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a
week to ensure site up-time and proper function.
Finally, we review all client Web sites periodically
and propose upgrades and enhancements based on
the emergence of new technologies, greater user
connection speeds and Web marketing innovations.
Our commitment to the success of your site never