The Website Process Step-by-Step
So you need a new website.
If you’ve never been through this process before, it can be overwhelming and full of questions.
It's a big investment of money, time and trust in who you hire to guide you through this process.
Let me help clear some of the fog of the web design process.
It might not be the sexiest step in the process, but nothing can happen until we’ve done the research.
As part of Corporate Three Design's research process, we’re looking for things like:
- Business goals and how the website can help achieve them
- Target audience
- Current website traffic
- Most popular content
- What are people searching for to find your business
- What problem is your business solving for customers
Depending on the client we use a series of tactics to find these answers. These could include:
- Interviews with you
- Interviews with current clients
- Focus groups
- Google Analytics
- Heat maps on existing sites
Having this information allows us design and develop with a strong foundation to achieve your goals.
Research happens throughout the website process, but this initial phase averages 2-3 weeks.
From the research we create a sitemap for your new website. This gives you a flat view of how your website will be structured.
Depending on the project, we will sometimes create a sitemap of your existing site so you can see the current structure. Looking at the existing site and information from Google Analytics, we can make suggestions for how to reorganize the site to work towards your goals.
The most important part of the sitemap is to decide what the main navigation elements are going to be. Pages can always be added beneath the main heading elements.
The sitemap process can take 1-2 weeks depending on revisions and approvals.
Content may be the most tedious step in the process, but the site is nothing without it.
Each of the pages identified in the sitemap need content. There’s a couple ways this can be handled.
- You or your team writes it.
This is the least costly, but could take the most time if you’re trying to run your business and write content at the same time. If you don’t have an understanding of writing for the web, this could also be a hindrance in reaching some of your goals. Google and other search engines exist because of the content and they’re looking for specific things.
- You and your team writes it and our staff edits for the web.
This will cost a bit more and takes about the same amount of time as the first option. Our staff will be able to edit and fine tune the content to help reach your goals.
- Our team writes and you give approval.
This is the most expensive option, but tends to take the least amount of time From the research stage and a series of additional questions to learn more about your business, our team will write the content based on the sitemap. We'll keep your audience and goals top of mind to create a strong search presence.
Depending on the amount of content needing to be written, this process can take 2 weeks - 2 months.
Now we've reached the fun step in the process.
The design process can happen alongside the content being written to keep things moving forward.
How we design is contingent upon the budget, so here are a few options.
- Entry Level
If you’re just getting started, we’ll suggest a basic Wordpress template. The only customizations will include the logos, adjusting fonts and the color scheme. Entry level can range from $3k - $5k.
- Mid Level
If you’re looking for a more custom design and a few added tools this is the option for you. The mid level option still begins with a Wordpress template, but our team will add more customizations and integrations at the development stage. Mid level can range from $5k-$8k.
- Fully Customized
If you have specific things your site needs to do and a specific design, this is the option you’ll want. At this level, we’ll create a photoshop mockup for you to see and approve before we start the development process. We’ll go back and forth through 2 rounds of revisions to achieve the design you’re looking for. This level can range from $10k-$40k+ depending on the custom development your site needs.
Growth Driven Design
If your business needs the full customized option, but you have the budget for Entry or Mid Level this is when we'll recommend a Growth Driven Design process. You'll start out with a basic template to get your website footprint started, and then we'll put together a plan and timeline to incorporate the customized features. This gives you the flexibility to test and refine parts of your website before implementing expensive development, as well planning for a long term investment in your website instead of a short burst is typical of happening.
Development and Testing
With a design and direction in place, building begins.
The site is build on one of our servers or on a server of your choosing.
Internally our team will test the site and work through any bugs. We send you and your team a link to review and test. We'll make adjustments and get ready for launch.
If your site is an entry or mid-level site with only basic modifications to a Wordpress template, development can average 2-4 weeks. If your site is fully customized with custom development specific to your site, it can average 4-6 weeks.
Launch and Refinement
With testing finished and the website approved, our team goes through our launch checklist.
The launch process takes about half a day. The DNS records on the server can take 24-48 hours to update, so your new website may not be visible for everyone for a couple days.
It takes 6-9 weeks to develop a baseline for your new website. In that time, Google will index your site and the stats will have reached normal levels for interpreting the data on heatmaps (if you run them) and analytics reporting tools.
It’s not required, but we recommend reviewing your goals and your site’s performance after 3 months to see if the website design strategy was tuned properly. In the analytics or heatmaps, we may be able to find easy tweaks to continue working to achieve your business goals.
Think of your website as a foundation for achieving your business goals. Marketing is what you build upon to keep working towards your goals.
There are many different tactics and strategies, but almost all of them start with content. A consistent addition of new content written around the topics your target audience is looking for will help your site be indexed and returned in search results on those topics. Including Transitional and Direct Calls to Action on those pages will further help achieve those goals.
Types of Marketing Could Include:
- Search Engine
- Social Media
- Direct Mail
- Traditional Advertising
- Digital Advertising
Your business is important and deserves a strong website foundation to help you reach your goals. It's an investment of time and money. Do your research, ask questions, and feel confident about who you decide to build your website.