Website design

Understand the website design process

Conceptualizing the design for a website is a purely artistic process, but developing the structure and content is necessarily a collaborative effort as there are some key decisions that must be made.

This outline should help to illustrate the development process, breaking down each step as I work with you to produce your website.

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Website design process concept development

The website design concept typically begins with a phone conversation about audience, content, and style considerations as well as any design preferences or functional requirements you may have.

I might ask you to send me links to websites that you've mentioned during our correspondence so that I get a sense of the style and mood that appeals to you.

During this phase I'll also offer suggestions and recommendations for streamlining the menu, choosing photographic materials, and structuring the content.

Once we've established the design requirements for the website I'll produce an initial concept mockup (and sometimes more) which I'll email to you for approval (ETA: 1-3 days).

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If any corrections or alterations are needed the mockup would be updated and emailed to you for approval again. It's rare that more than one or two revisions is needed to finalize the design concept. However, this may sometimes be necessary and the final cost would reflect any additional time spent on concept development, or "tweaking".

It's important to address all of the design issues up front because these can become considerably more difficult to fix later in development.

Developing the website structure

The process of constructing the website framework is a time-intensive task, so it's important to ensure that the content requirements and menu structure are finalized well in advance of this. I'll confirm these with you before I proceed with creating the structure.

While I can help you to organize your content and to ensure that it's presented in a logical way, many of the content-specific decisions will be up to you. After all, you know your audience far better than I do!

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Once the menu structure has been finalized I begin creating and assembling the functional components and design elements in a temporary website development area (ETA: 2-5 days). Any content that you plan to write or re-write can usually be done concurrently.

When the website structure is complete I'll email you a link so that you can browse the site and get a feel for it.

Copywriting and content layout for effective website designs

When the content is ready in final form and no further additions are planned it can be emailed to me in electronic format. Integrating and laying out the content within the website framework is also a time-intensive task, so it's best if the finished content is sent all at once and in its entirety, as this will help to prevent any time crunches late in development.

Ideally, your content should be organized in a simple list format using the menu structure that was created for the website (ie: Homepage, About Us, Products, etc.). Simple textual content might be sent in an email, as a Word document, or as a simple .txt file. Tabular information can also be sent as an Excel document or HTML file.

Adobe Acrobat (PDF) documents are not a usable format here, unless they're intended to be offered as-is on the website as downloadable files.

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If you have graphic or photographic items that you want me to use along with the content (logo, products photos, etc.), these can be emailed to me. If there are a large number of items, they can be burned to CD/DVD and sent to the address on the invoice estimate.

Unless you communicate any specific preferences, I'll use my own judgement as to what layout and presentational style best suits your content offerings. The time necessary for completing this phase varies widely with different types of content, but it's generally finished within 1-5 days.

Developing and publishing a small business website

When content integration and layout is complete I'll ask you to browse through the development site to check for errors, typos and any other content issues that might need attention.

Once the website has been verified I'll begin the process of publishing it to the live server. To do this I'll need:

  • The domain name or IP address of the website
  • An FTP account username and password

This information is typically included in a confirmation email that will have been sent to you after signing up for a website hosting plan.

If you're not familiar with website hosting and domain name registration I can assist you, as there are some important considerations.

The format of the finished website will be almost exclusively HTML and CSS, so familiarity with these languages by your website administrator will be necessary for making content updates once the site has been published. For making structural and/or functional changes (beyond content updates) knowledge of PHP will be necessary.

Learning how to edit web pages on your own is a valuable skill but it may not be a realistic solution for all your needs. If you plan to make frequent content updates or structural additions you would benefit from hiring a part-time or full-time website administrator.

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While I'm not in a position to offer ongoing website maintenance or "on-call service", I do offer iterated updates on a quarterly or bi-annual basis for a minimum $250.00 fee.

Lastly, bear in mind that I'm a one man show and that coordinating and preparing the information and materials for a website is enormously time-intensive. I must allot time in my development schedule for every project so the deposit I request before I begin is non-refundable. The deposit is also forfeited if for any reason you choose to halt the design process, if circumstances arise in which creative work cannot continue or we mutually agree to stop work, or if development is stalled or is otherwise delayed by you for more than one year from the date the deposit is received.

Final word: I deliver on time and so I ask to be paid on time. The outstanding amount of the project's final cost is due in full within 10 business days of the final invoice date after which a late fee is assessed at 10% of the unpaid balance per week.

I hope this information is useful to you and I look forward to working with you on your creative projects!

Last revised May 12th, 2009.