This is a good question and one I wish my clients would ask. I think many of them don’t realize what is happening behind the scenes to get their website working. Here goes…
First off, we developers/designers gather information from the client. I ask a lot of questions and take notes. (Funny thing is, I don’t usually go back to the notes, but I have them, just in case.) Sometimes the client has an existing website and sometimes not. Without content there is no site, and sometimes it takes a little prodding to get the ball rolling. Looking at other similar business sites can help. Working from an existing business plan or from printed brochures is also helpful. I tell my clients, “Just write out the ideas and don’t worry about the grammar, the spelling, or the construction. Just let the ideas and thoughts flow. We can get something out of that.”
Then, there is the development of the content. How do we organize it? What exciting things can we add to give the visitor a good experience? I get a lot of ideas during face to face discussions with the client. I really like this stage and I think it might even be my most creative moments. Now what about branding? Do they have a decent logo? Sometimes not and we have to tackle that first.
We then roll up our sleeves and get to work on the design. Sometimes I create what they call “Mood Boards”. Three or possibly four pages of color palettes, photos, typography, graphics, and icons. For instance: One is dark blues with script type and ocean photos. Another can be bright warm colors with purple icons and cool graphics. The client picks what they like and maybe we even combine some of the ideas. It’s a tool to find out what the client likes but filtered through the experience of the designer. Same with stock photos. I like to build a light-box and invite the client to choose the pics they like. All of the photos have been pre-approved for the design.
Now the most difficult part of the job, the build. I set up a folder on my server. I upload and install WordPress, our main software, log onto the dashboard and install the theme. Start creating the menu with the page names and text. Build the pages. Place text, logo, photos, icons, illustrations, graphics, headers, links, forms, video, sliders, portfolio galleries, portrait photos, testimonials, site map, credit lines, SEO editing, widgets, side bars, secondary menus, blog posts, event calendars, shopping carts, call-to-actions, opt-in boxes, newsletter, social media links. Did I leave anything out? Build the pages with all these items, then, change your mind, tweak a lot, move things around.
A few weeks of work ensues. Once approved, I point the domain to the files on my server or migrate the web files to another server of their choice. (But not Go Daddy or Network Solutions, please.) Another important piece is I recommend that the email be separate from the website. Use gmail and forward web email to that. Or set up email with your domain host. You don’t want the email to cease if the web site is down for ANY reason.
Next week, Maintaining a site.