Harpenden Design process

Our unique method for achieving results for Harpenden

Design process

The Harpenden web design process is not magic and it shouldn’t be a mystery. As with any design process, it comes down to identifying the problem (or as we call it, the “opportunity”) and designing a solution for it.

Our Harpenden web design methodology consists of six simple steps:

Step 1: Scope the Project

On most web design projects, St Albans Web Design begins with a brief client survey to determine broad goals and objectives and the primary and secondary target audiences. Based on that, we can prepare project plan with statement of the technical and design requirements (required functionality and features for the site). At this point, we would determine whether a static site or a Harpenden CMS (Content Management System) is appropriate. For a static site, St Albans Web Design can be retained to make periodic updates. At this stage, a timeline and proposed launch date is set, which is refined in the next phase.

Step 2: Determine Site Structure and Content Plan

Using the requirements from step one, we can begin to visualise the structure (broad categories) for the site. Working in concert with you, we can formulate a content outline to determine what needs to be included, what can be excluded (out of scope) and the relative importance of each element. At this point, we would also build a site map or site diagram, which is simply flow chart from the Harpenden home page to the at least the first three levels of the site hierarchy. Optionally, wireframes (layouts using blank/non-graphic boxes) can be designed at this stage to help determine rough placement of each design element on the page.

Step 3: Harpenden Visual Design & Prototype

Now the fun part. Because of the work done in the first two steps, we can make clear decisions about a visual design direction based on your goals and what is appropriate way of presenting your message to the target audience. We normally start logically with the home page look and feel, constructing static image mockups in design software such as PhotoShop. Once that is signed off, we can begin a similar design process for the secondary and tertiary level pages. It is important for the lower level page to remain consistent with the home page, but allow enough flexibility to bring in new and engaging features for site users.

For larger Harpenden dynamic sites, it may make sense to build a working prototype site in static HTML as a “proof of concept” before porting the design over to a database-driven site. Usually much of the HTML code used in the prototype can be used in the final production site or as a basis for final site CMS page templates.

Step 4: Build Site — Development & Graphic Production

After the look and feel (design and functionality) have been agreed, we can begin building the site. Depending on the amount of content, it may make sense for St Albans Web Design in Hertfordshire to share this task with the client. We also use this time to add any required technical features to the site: on-site search, video, blog, analytics, or Flash. Pages are constructed using latest web standards and are built to minimise download time and to fit within the browser and monitor specifications of the target audience. We pay particular attention to:

  • CSS – separating visual presentation from content (helps search engines)
  • XHTML – use valid (X)HTML
  • Accessibility – conform to W3C and WCAG level one and two guidelines
  • Javascript – add light scripting, make sure any features degrade gracefully in browsers without Javascript
  • Optimize – optimize GIF, JPEG and PNG images, XHTML and CSS
  • Run initial testing on site templates before large-scale buildout

Step 5: Harpenden Test & Refine

Ideally, our initial project plan will have allocated time for formal site testing. We should identify a person within your organization who can commit to step through each page on the site and confirm it looks and behaves as expected. St Albans Web Design will perform quality assurance testing on all front end and back end features. We then prioritise issues based on severity or relative importance, concentrating on the most important issues first. After issue resolution, site is refined and we work towards final release of the site.

Step 6: Launch

Plan the best date to go live, considering current web site traffic patterns (if applicable) by launching at a time of low site traffic. St Albans Web Design will be available during the period following launch to address any post-launch issues. If possible, consider a soft launch (a quiet “beta” launch that allows us to confirm everything is working properly before the official launch date).

Contact St Albans Web Design in Hertfordshire to get started today!