How a Typical Project Works

Building a Web site involves a number of activities. It's not rocket science, but it can seem daunting, especially if you're developing your Web site for the first time.

So we've put together this page to describe how a typical project works. Most Web designers don't take the trouble to explain this to you, but we think it's important - so you can feel more comfortable with the process.

First, here's a broad outline of the process:

Project Timeline

Start-up
Planning
Design
Writing
Loading
Integration
Handover
Launch

Now let's look at each of these stages in turn.

Start-Up

This happens before we start the project, and before you've committed to it (If you like, this is the "sales" process):

  • We have a phone conversation, so we understand what you require and you understand what we can offer.
  • We then send you a brief letter of engagement outlining the way we work.
  • You read, sign and return that to us, along with the payment of the deposit (50% of the development fee).

Now we're ready to get started!

Planning

The planning stage of the project is crucial, because we discuss and decide on tasks, responsibilities and deadlines. Broadly, it goes like this:

  • We send you a survey document, to help you get clarity on the specific components of your site (colours, menus, layout preferences, and so on).
  • When you return that to us, we have a one-hour phone consultation with you, to discuss your responses and to set out the plan.
  • We then write up a project plan, which includes the specific tasks and milestones for the project - such as:
    - Graphic design preferences (colours, layout, etc.)
    - Menu structure
    - List of content pages for you to write
    - Who will be loading the content (you or us)
    - Agreed milestones along the way
    - Proposed launch date for the site

We send the project plan for you to review and approve. When you've done that, and we both know we're on the same track, we continue with the technical work.

Design

If we're doing the graphic design for you, it goes through this sequence:

  • You provide your logo and any other branding material.
  • Our designer Natasha creates a draft design for you, based on the layout we agreed in the project plan.
  • We send this to you for review and comment.
  • We incorporate your comments and create a new design. This might take a few iterations until you're completely happy with it.
  • When you approve the final design, we convert the draft into its final form, and install it on the site.

Alternatively, if you're doing the graphic design yourself (or using your own designer), we leave this for you to manage with them. We stay out of this process altogether.

Writing

While the graphic design is in progress, you can start working on the content of your site.

  • We send you our "Web Writing Guide", to assist you in writing the content.
  • You write the content, typically with each Web page in a separate Microsoft Word document.
  • You send us the content to review, so we can make suggestions (if any), based on our experience.
  • When you're happy with the content, you tell us that it's complete and ready to load.

If you would like help with writing the material, we can put you in touch with a professional copywriter.

Loading

If we're loading all or some of the content for you, we do it at this stage.

Integration

The "integration" phase is just the point where we complete our work, and "hand over" the site to you before it's launched:

  • We review all the Web pages we've loaded.
  • We check for broken links.
  • We test all the software facilities (newsletter, downloading documents, shopping cart, etc.).
  • We set up e-mail addresses.

At the end of this process, we're ready to hand over the site to you for the final work before launching it.

At this point, we also invoice you for the remaining development work (typically 50% of the original development fee, plus the fee for loading Web pages - if any).

Handover

We "hand over" the site to you before launching it:

  • We schedule a phone training session for you with our Help Desk staff, so you can learn how the "back end" of the site works. We allow up to 2 hours of training, though this doesn't all have to happen in one continuous block.
  • You then load any remaining Web pages.

At the end of this process, we're ready to launch the site.

Launch

This stage simply means we're making the site open to the public:

  • We make the site visible to the public.
  • We test your new e-mail addresses.
  • We give you ideas on how to promote the site effectively.

How long does this take?

This varies for each client. We can probably say that a typical Web site project takes 4 to 6 weeks. But that's just an average. We have done some in a week, and others have taken months.

How can you speed up the process?

The two most time-consuming (that is, labour intensive) components of the project are the graphic design and writing the content. Your input into these two areas is critical to the success of the project. Read on ...

Graphic design

If you are very clear about your design requirements, that will make the process faster. For example, if you give us clear examples of Web sites you like and Web sites you don't like (with specific reasons for liking/disliking them), it's easier for our designer to create an initial draft that you'll probably like.

Writing the content

If you're a good writer, this might be easy for you. But from our experience, this is usually the single task that takes the longest.

So get started on this as soon as possible. And realise it doesn't have to be 100% perfect. Focus on writing professional content that's good enough for the initial launch of the site. You can always change it yourself later!

First Step Communications Pty Ltd
8 Windich Place, Leederville WA 6007, Australia
Help Desk / Support:
    E-mail
    Phone 02 8006 2481 within Australia, +61 2 8006 2481 from outside Australia
Sales:
    E-mail
    Phone 02 8005 5746 within Australia, +61 2 8005 5746 from outside Australia
www.firststep.com.au

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