How do we develop our products?
We develop quality websites. Quality website development is a long-lasting and labour-consuming process. Not everybody knows that website development involves more than just designing and programming.
Lots of studios overprice website development, screening themselves behind buzzwords. They significantly increase the number of site development stages, adding minor and insignificant activities to the list of major stages.
In this article I will try to briefly describe basic stages of website development. At least, I shall tell you about the stages our managers are going through together with our customers.
Website concept. Identifying Company's main tasks and goals and its strengths as well as defining its target audience.
What is website concept? Website concept is the principal idea of a prospective website, its "principle". Website concept reflects the Company's development strategy. The concept is based on the defined mission, goals and objectives of the website. Concept's goal is to formulate ideas that will subsequently underlie requirements specification and afterwards the website itself.
The most common formulation of the main goal sounds as follows: "Development of efficient mechanism of sales", less frequently it is designated as "Company's image enhancement", "Development of basic information area" or even "Share announcement". When the goals have been set, strengths help to highlight key points accurately:
organise the structure of the website sections in a proper way,
determine logic of menu and functional blocks construction,
arrange and place information correctly on different pages.
In addition, it is necessary to study customer's scope of activity, compare websites of similar companies, and identify the target audience.
Requirements specification (RS).
Almost every customer who has ever turned to a web-studio heard this magic combination of letters - RS - which stands for "requirements specification".
So, what is it? I am sure that most managers of webstudios don't bother themselves with explaining what it is to their clients. As a matter of fact, requirements specification is the fundamental document under which Executor (or Contractor) shall set up a website and which will be afterwards used by Customer to verify the results. To put it short, requirements specification is a document containing description of model pages and sections of a future website as well as information you will be able to add there and requirements to the administrative constituent of the website.
Requirements specification for website development is an extremely important document which mustn't be just run over by Customer (authorized person) but must be thoroughly scrutinized by them. Thereafter, Customer (authorized person) has to express their requests and comments, and finally sign the document only when all queries have been settled and all doubts have been dispelled.
Stylistic resolution (website development).
Website design plays the same role as design and make-up of a printed issue. At the same time, web-design differs from polygraphic design. While producing a poster a designer doesn't have to think about dynamics (ability to promptly add information). When working on website design a designer spends a considerable amount of time on arranging information blocks in a proper way, thereby stimulating a web visitor to click that link (turn their attention to that part of the page) which is of greater importance to the customer. Moreover, a web-designer has to take into account legibility of a text. Grey letters on black background may look really nice but it is almost impossible to read that kind of text on a usual monitor. So, a visitior is unlikely to linger on such a website. This aspect of web-design is known as "usability" which means it is easy and convenient to use.
Yet, eye appeal of a website is important, too. A designer creates templates of pages, chooses fonts and adornments (graphic elements). The project manager assesses the produced design in terms of compliance with the concept and the requirements specification. After verification and introduction of probable add-ins the project manager sends the design to the customer. If the customer is satisfied with it, the design is confirmed, either straightaway or after some minor alterations have been made. Otherwise, the designer gets down to work on another version. The number of versions is normally stipulated in project specifications.
Programming (Software development). Page makeup.
Although programming is actually one of the most important stages in the process of website development, there isn't much to tell about it. A maker-up, i.e. a layout designer, converts graphic presentation into a browser-transparent form, which means he makes up the confirmed design and then circulates it to a programmer. The latter creates scripts which implement website-pages behaviour described in the requirements assignment.
The project manager and the customer test the website independently of each other in terms of consistent work of this software. If there arise any problems - so called bugs - the programmer solves them. This is followed by consultations on management system operation, acceptance certificate, payment, etc. But...
Is there collaboration after the paymement?
An honest contractor always has to guarantee after-sales service of his product.
In fact, in 90 per cent of cases Contractor and Customer sign a separate agreement regarding website maintenance. What is it? This agreement ensures that inter parties contact does not cease after issuance of an acceptance certificate. Hosting, domain name fee, back-up and website audit, or if Customer lacks in time or has no opportunity to fill his website with content, he may share these routine activities with Contractor.
Nobody will help you with your website as quickly and efficiently as its co-authors.