My Web Development Process…Part 2 of 2

My Web Development Process

This is the second of my two-part series about my web development process. If you have not already read the first part of this series, please read part one of my web development process.

As you read previously, I split up my web-dev process into 5 steps:

Step #1: Finding and Contacting the Client
Step #2: Meeting the Client
Step #3: Starting the Project
Step #4: Managing Revisions
Step #5: Finishing the Project and Followup

In the first part of explaining my web-dev process, we covered step #1 (finding and contacting the client) and step #2 (meeting the client). Just to reiterate, when first meeting with a client, it is very important to go into the meeting with a detailed list of questions so you can develop the clearest gameplan possible. Henry Ford said, “Before everything else, getting ready is the secret to success.” Being well-prepared is half the victory, the other half is delivering the goods.

Next, we will cover step 3, 4, and 5 of my web development process.

Step #3: Starting the Project

After I have all of the necessary details I need from the client, I am ready to begin designing the project. One of the questions I always ask my clients is what websites they like or find attractive. Often it will be a website I have already created for a previous client or maybe it will be a website which has nothing to do with their industry. Of course, it is also important to ask what about that website they like or find particularly attractive. Maybe it is the colors, the design, a bit of flash, or the imagery used. If it is the layout, that gives me a good idea what kind of layout to start designing for them, whether it be a 2 or 3 column, landscape, vertical design, etc. For example, I recently designed a web site real estate community in Alabama. The site owner especially liked this website design for it’s flash header and its simple, yet effective design:

Desert Mountain

The design which I ended up producing for the site was of a somewhat similar layout, but still has its unique elements:

Black Warrior

Fortunately, the client provided all of the copyright and imagery for the site almost immediately, so I was easily able to finish this project on schedule. Most often, the biggest delay in finishing sites is when the client does not provide the copyright on time.

My Web Tools

As far as the tools I use to design the sites: I first design the graphical layout in Adobe Photoshop CS2, and then export to ImageReady so I can slice up the design. After the initial design is completed, I use Adobe GoLive to code the site into CSS and HTML. Even though I use a WYSIWG editor, I spend 85% of my time directly editing the source code. I like to use GoLive primarily for its site management features and built-in FTP. Another reason I use GoLive is that for some of tasks, such as creating tables, it is much easier to do than by manually coding. One other great feature of GoLive is its use of components. In other words, if I change the filename of a link on one page, GoLive will automatically update that new filename every page on that site is linked to. This saves a lot of time fussing around with broken links.

The only thing that GoLive is lacking is some of the more advanced CSS capabilities that are present in the more popular web development software, Dreamweaver. Given that Adobe recently bought Macromedia, it looks like Adobe will bephasing out GoLive and further implementing Dreamweaver into their suite of creative products. I have not used Dreamweaver, but I hear it is much easier to work with CSS layouts than GoLive. As I said earlier, since I do most of my editing in source code, it will be easy to transition over to working in Dreamweaver.

As far as selecting imagery, if that is something the client requested, I use the royalty-free stock Stock.Xchng, the leading free stock photography site. That is also where I source all of my individual article header graphics from, FYI. The great thing about the Stock.Xchng is that all of the images are free of charge and free to use for private AND commercial purposes.

After the first few pages of the web site are ready for viewing, I upload the site to the client’s domain (which I host on my dedicated server) and then begin accepting feedback from the client.

Step #4: Managing Revisions

After I present the client with my initial drafts, 9 times out of 10, they will want to change some things. When I send revisions to a client and receive an email back with corrrections, I like to make those changes that same day and then write a followup email immediately. This where great customer service really comes in. Are you on top of your workload and providing timely turnarounds?

I like to focus on being very customer service-oriented, and one way to do this is always provide the quickest turnaround possible when it comes to revisions. Of course, it is understandable if the revisions are tedious and might take a few days, but I always communicate this to the client. If there is one thing I want to stress, it is that CONSTANT and CLEAR communication is absolutely necessary when working with clients. I have heard so many horror stories from clients who have previously worked with web developers that are terrible communicators, charge outrageous fees, and worst, bail on the project entirely. The easiest way to differentiate oneself from the other ten-thousand web developers out there is by providing outstanding customer service.

Step #5: Finishing the Project and Followup

When the web site is close to its official launch, I start an initial marketing process that I include in the price of all of my projects. This includes creating a Google sitemap, adding it to appropriate directories, and verifying all of the on-page content is fully search engine optimized. SEO is something that many web development firms charge much extra for, but I like to do all that I can to ensure that my client’s sites will receive as much natural traffic as possible (if that is their wish).

After that, everything is ready to go. I recently have begun asking clients for a post-project feedback, whether it be positive or negative. Testimonials are a great way to show potential clients that other people have been satisfied with your work.

That is pretty much it. If any of you need web design or hosting, contact me or visit my website for my web-dev company, infinFX.

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask me. Good luck and happy developing!

7 thoughts on “My Web Development Process…Part 2 of 2”

  1. Do you take care of both the web design and the backend programming part of a project ? Or do you do only web design and outsource the programming to a sub contractor?

    The reason Im asking is suppose the client’s specs contains database work shouldn’t you first contact a developer first and get his quote and comments before approaching the client for the second time ?

    1. Hi, thanks for the question. Yes, I take care of the backend programming part of the project as well. I rarely outsource work, however, that would be a good topic to write about for a future blog post.

  2. Oh a good conclusion to your little mini series for Web Development!

    Now I love backend programming, it’s the graphic side I am slowly trying to become better at. I have a couple of people (my 2 sisters actually) that could help me with the graphic thing but getting in touch with them to have them help me out can be tricky. So I’ve been trying to learn more of the graphic side to development and design.

    I like the two sites you show in this post. The fading flash header is a nice touch too.

    Did you goto school or are you self taught or?

  3. Form design is the necessary evil of web development. Don’t you wish you had a wizard’s wand to create accessible yet attractive forms? We have found such a wizard! Here, Cameron Adams shows you how to use CSS to create forms that are both great-looking and usable, and gives you the code you need to make the job easy.

  4. Hi Nate! I’m Shahar. I just found your website accidentally by using the Google search engine. I found your website is very informative and it’s make me more knowledgeable. I have read a few of your articles and want you to write more in the future.

    FYI, I have your article title: 23-things-i’ve-learned-after-7-months-and-500-rss-subscribers. It’s actually has inspired me a lots and give me a motivation to develop my own website later. I’m still the in the process to design and create the website.

    However, my suggestion to you maybe in the future you can write an article on how to establish a website from zero or nothing for example how to have our own domain name what is the importance when design a website and much more.

    Thank your to the readers of my comment.

    Shahar

  5. Great Article, you have got some important factors which leads to failure or success in web designing business!

    Hope, since your company has imerged to a new extent would be having different business methodology

    Hoping for similar posts in future.

    Abhinav

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