We're often asked to explain the process of creating a new Website. Here we've outlined the steps involved in producing and managing a large Web project. Although the sample we use is a large project, this information is also relevant for smaller Websites, online ad banners and marketing campaigns- the difference would be fewer planning documents.
phase 1: the planning processDiscovery is the first part of any new project. We research the business, industry or product, as well as the marketplace and competitors. We review your current Website, as well as all relevant marketing material and data. Meetings and interviews are set up with key individuals within your company to get feedback on and issues or expectations. This initial process can take a week or a month, depending on budget and the complexity of the business.
After the initial discovery, we start with developing the planning documents for the project. These act as the blueprint for the project, allowing everyone to analysis the content, structure and marketing objectives. This also helps clients understand the needs of the project while opening up new ideas for discussion. Planning documents are often revised as everyone involved is able to analyze the project more clearly. Below are the common planning documents we use for our projects:
Proposal: A bid document that outlines the project, rough time frame, budget and tasks. The proposal is just a guide, and the parameters of the project can grow beyond what is outlined.
Letter of Agreement: Outlines the exact details of the project up to the date and is signed by all parties involved -similar to a contract.
Marketing Questionnaire: A basic series of questions used to help us write a more effective creative brief and/or technical brief. The questionnaire is answered by the client.
Marketing/Creative Brief: A simple, one-page document that outlines the creative and marketing objectives of the project. This document outlines the basic marketing objectives of the project, such as target audience, desired perception, visual tone, and points of difference. The end result will guide the Website design.
Flow Chart (site map): A visual planning element that shows all of the site's major architecture and page relationships. The flow chart will visualize the page hierarchy and any back-end data development. The end result is a document that shows where a user will travel for content and the source from which it's published. (see sample)
Wire frames: Document shows the rough mock-up of page content in relationship to positioning and emphasis. This is a rough visual representation of what to expect on a page not a design document. Some projects will have multiple wire frames for various sections, depending on complexity.
Design Comps: Visual designs that illustrate the look and feel of the site. We produce from two to four design comps for a project, depending on budget. The comps will be static representations of Web pages, and can change slightly once moved into production. A typical comp will consist of a home page and inside page layout.
Optional documents, depending on project scope:
Content Plan: Content development is minimal when redesigning an existing site with current information but for most site overhauls, the required amount of new content can be extensive. Having a plan that outlines what's needed and who is responsible for new content is key to keeping the production on track.
Back-end Development Plan: For projects requiring extensive back-end Web development, we'll put together a planning document that shows how the data will be stored, administered and published to pages within the site. This document is reserved for more extensive Web projects or when working with data from a client’s existing system. Development plans have their own flow chart, illustrating the data paths.
Design Guide: A useful document for anyone who needs to maintain the Website. The guide will list visual elements such as text styles, spacing, color usage, image usage, page sizes and style sheet parameters. The size and detail of the design guide will depend on the complexity of the site. This document is reserved for larger sites where new pages will be added on a regular basis, especially by persons within the company. Not every Website requires a design guide, but it's a must for sites managed by internal departments or corporations. (see sample)
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