Web Development Process with But It’s Digital – James McCann

The User Journey

Digital marketing has opened many different media channels that allow companies and their customer communicate with each other and no channel does this better than a company’s own website. By relying solely on 3rd party platforms can put valuable brands and their online presence at the behest of their rules and regulations e.g. Facebook or LinkedIn. By owning and controlling a website, companies can manage their online presence which can then be used as the centre of their digital marketing strategy. 

A website can facilitate many different requirements including:

  • e-commerce
  • online services
  • brand and brand building
  • media
  • social

Using the correct digital marketing strategy that drives users to a website that can then in turn fulfill their needs through carefully constructed user journeys is what digital marketing is at its simplest terms.

By leveraging the power of other elements in the digital marketing mix such as social media, paid ads or apps can also be used. The process of web development at But Its Digital is a 6-step process developed and refined to ensure we deliver the correct solution for users.

 
 

It’s collaborative, transparent and that is why we share it with anyone who wants it. Each project is put through this process, ensuring a positive outcome at each and every step. We argue that web sites should be viewed as investments, and that the decision process about websites should be subject to the same level of discipline executives use when evaluating other types of investments” Economics and Web Design, Web design for ROI, Turning Browsers into Buyers & Prospects into Leads. But It’s Digital will ensure your business investment returns the best possible outcome.

Step - 1 Project Scope

All website users expect a first-class user experience regardless of the devices they are using and they expect to find the information they are looking for easily and quickly. For this reason, this process invests heavily in the initial undertaking a comprehensive user experience process stages that is built around a website users’ needs. Any web project must have users at the forefront of every decision that is made and adhering to a user-centered design approach will ensure the best possible outcome for the users of the site. A deep understanding of the user and what they aim to achieve when visiting a website is required

Project scope is determined by asking questions of key stakeholders, users and potential users and documenting actual fact based information and data will enable this step to be completed. Understanding the motivation and need for the project, the client’s business and the types of customers is paramount to ensure that the website project delivers for its user.

The outputs will be:

  • Detailed project requirements.
  • Understanding of user personas.
  • High level user goals.

Step - 2 User Experience

User-centered design principles, which begin and end with the target audience are core to any user experience process. As Steve Jobs the creator of Apple Computers said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” Isaacson (2011, p127).

Simplicity in the experience will ensure that the site structure, navigation and content meet the users’ needs at all times; and are focused on enabling all potential visitors to easily fulfill their top tasks when they visit the website. The quality of information and research collated at the user experience stage will determine the quality of the user journey of the website.

By adhering to a user-centred design approach we first gain a deep understanding of the user and what they aim to achieve when visiting a website. We then define the journeys through the site and the architecture around those needs. Expected outputs at this stage are:

  • Information Architecture
  • Wireframes
  • User journeys

Step - 3 Specification

The specification phase will pull everything together into a single document. This is a detailed document on what we are delivering based on the content management system chosen, the features and functionality that will be developed within the scope of the project. It is only at this point can we begin to define exactly how the CMS will need to be updated and configured.

The functional specification document is critical to the successful development of any website project. It is envisaged that this document will go through a number of revisions until a final version is signed off by all stakeholders.

A technical specification summary document will also be created by the project manager. “The purpose of the technical summary is to provide the tech team (and the client) with a detailed description of what each technical requirement is and how it will be addressed”, Real Project Management (2006, p74).  Outputs here will be:

  • Functional specification
  • Technical specification

Step - 4 Design

Now that we are confident that the optimal site experience has been created, we progress to visual or graphic design. This is where we begin to add the vibrancy to the website.

Colours, logos, images to visually bring to life, albeit in static form, this is known as the look and feel of the website which is a visually pleasing, but the most importantly a website that delivers on the identified needs of those using it. Accessibility is core here as is responsive web design.

It is not necessary to develop separate websites for desktop and mobile devices, instead we utilise responsive web design to deliver a unified experience regardless of the user’s device.

This means that, regardless of the device used, key information is readily available in a consistent manner, meaning that if a user transfers their interaction from mobile to a desktop that the content structure of the website is interchangeable, reducing the risk of site abandonment due to inconsistent navigation across platforms. Output:

  • Static web designs

Step - 5 Development

Coding Standards, Source Code Management, Release Management are 3 key facets for ensuring that your website is developed and managed to the highest standards. Each are carefully planned during both development and deployment stages using the latest in source code validation and development standards.

  Additional technical documentation is generated detailing the output:

  • Coding standards
  • Version control and deployment process

Step - 6 Live Testing

The testing process involves both iterative improvement (i.e. testing during development), and an extensive period of full project testing pre-launch. The process will include user testing, usability testing, functional testing, code testing, compliance testing, browser/device testing, standards testing, penetration testing and performance testing.

Go Live date is pre-planned at least 2 weeks in advance.  It is required to ensure that there is a code and content freeze to ensure the system is stable and ready for releases.  Penetration, security and vulnerability testing are all completed on the system before the domain name server is switched over and the site is live. Outputs:

  • Test plan
  • Go Live Plan

Conclusion

Digital marketing has opened many different media channels that allow companies and their customer communicate with each other and no channel does this better than a company’s own website. By relying solely on 3rd party platforms can put valuable brands and their online presence at the behest of their rules and regulations e.g. Facebook or LinkedIn. By owning and controlling a website, companies can manage their online presence which can then be used as the centre of their digital marketing strategy. A website can facilitate many different requirements including:

  • e-commerce
  • online services
  • brand and brand building
  • media
  • social

Using the correct digital marketing strategy that drives users to a website that can then in turn fulfill their needs through carefully constructed user journeys is what digital marketing is at its simplest terms. By leveraging the power of other elements in the digital marketing mix such as social media, paid ads or apps can also be used. The process of web development at But Its Digital is a 6-step process developed and refined to ensure we deliver the correct solution for users.  It’s collaborative, transparent and that is why we share it with anyone who wants it. Each project is put through this process, ensuring a positive outcome at each and every step.

We argue that web sites should be viewed as investments, and that the decision process about websites should be subject to the same level of discipline executives use when evaluating other types of investments” Economics and Web Design, Web design for ROI, Turning Browsers into Buyers & Prospects into Leads. But It’s Digital will ensure your business investment returns the best possible outcome.

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