How Your Website is Made

The process of launching a website can seem intimidating, but a solid development plan and an experienced designer can streamline work significantly. By outlining the details of how I develop your website, my hope is that you’ll see why building a site doesn’t have to be confusing.

There are 4 phases of a web design project:

The Information Planning Phase

Organizing your website’s content beforehand is going to save lots of time later on. Before any design or developing can take place, the very first step is to figure out what content you’re planning to use on your website and where it's going to go.

Content, roughly defined, is the unique information your website provides in the form of text, images, video, applications, and so on. It is without a doubt, the primary reason people visit your website, so you should put some serious thought into what you plan to put on the page. As a starting point, it helps to envision the different types of pages you would like to see on your website. For example, in addition to the homepage you might want a page for “about us,” a page with a contact form, a page with a list of blog posts or products, a page for an individual product, etc. It’s ok to not have these pages written from the get-go, but you ought to have an understanding of what they’re going to be and why you’re going to use them.

Working with you during this phase, I develop information diagrams and workflow processes to conceptualize your website’s information delivery strategy until we arrive at a final information diagram that accurately reflects your site’s content.

The Design Phase

The aesthetics and functionality of your site design are integral in both communicating your brand message as well as making your website easy to use. Much like we did in the information planning phase, we need to draw up a picture of your website, (this time in a much more literal sense) utilizing the diagrams and specs we developed during the information planning phase. Usually, this includes a homepage design, and a number of template designs for any sub-pages.

Typically, the homepage design takes the longest of all the page designs and often sees several iterations before a client signs off on it. Sub-page designs take additional time, however they are often based off a simplified version of the homepage design, so the time spent designing them is typically less.

The Content Development Phase

Good content is going to be key to making or breaking your website. A good design facilitates easy access to content, but rarely is design actually part of the content. In many cases, clients wish to write the content themselves. This is perfectly ok, but in my experience clients often underestimate how much time this process can take. For this reason, this stage tends to run concurrent with the next phase (the Website Development Phase).

Content is deceptively challenging - it may look like just text, but writing for the web is different from writing for print, and stakeholders are often hesitant about signing off on information they know is going to be made public. Fortunately, if you need help with this phase, I am happy to work with you to develop workflow documents, tweak search-engine-optimization and even provide a bit of light copywriting where necessary. I will help you come up with a content workflow that governs how your content is generated, approved, delivered and maintained.

The Website Development Phase

Putting it all together, I start the process of actually building your website based off our work from the previous steps. This means writing HTML/CSS and any scripting that your site requires to function. This is also the stage where extra functionality such as Content Management Systems (CMS), Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Website Analytics get implemented.

This is the final stage in the process because changes to the previous steps can require significantly more time to re-implement once we've gotten this far. With a solid plan established, this phase goes pretty smoothly. That being said, the website development phase is usually the most labor-intensive task for the developer. If possible, I often try to start this phase during the content development stage, as I have found that it often takes clients additional time to finalize their content.

All right, so how much does it cost?

A popular question, and a difficult one to answer. As you can see, a great many steps go into crafting a website. Most small-to-medium websites following all of the above steps will require at least 30 hours of work. Larger undertakings can require much more. Pricing comes down to budget and project scope. Once we get a good picture of time and resources available at your disposal, I can give you a good idea of what website you can expect and at what price.

In general, if you are building a small-to-medium sized site, you will want to budget anywhere from $500-$5000. If that price range seems a bit broad, remember that it is reflective of how much work you would like done on the website. Letting me know your budget up front is important – it does not determine my hourly rate (and many projects often end up being completed under budget). Instead, it gives me a sense of the resources at your disposal, so that I can give you a good sense of what kind of website you can expect.

That's how it works! If you believe my methods are sound and you’re ready to start building your website with me, go ahead and contact me for a quote. I look forward to hearing from you, and am confident we’ll be able to build something great together.