How do I build my website?
You have an idea for a website and want to see that idea made real. But how do you start?
What goes into actually seeing a project through from start to finish?
How can you give yourself the best shot at success?
In this post, I will explain how we at MachineServant manage projects by working closely with our clients to achieve top-notch results.
It's your project. We are here to make it real.
As our client, we treat your project like it's your baby. Because it is. It's your vision, and it's our responsibility to breathe life into it. That means your input and your ideas are paramount to the development process.
Before anything else, the first step of any project is to collect data about the scope of work and ensure that there is a mutual understanding of the final finished product.
That means that we will sit down with you and dive into your world to understand what you are trying to build. Grasping your vision is vital because it informs every aspect of the project from this point forward.
An excellent place to start is to try to describe your vision in a few sentences.
Then we will try to answer some basic questions:
1. What is the purpose of the web site?
"Know the product"
Every website has a reason for existing. It's necessary to define carefully what the objectives are.
Are you selling something? Are you marketing a service? Do you want to have community interaction?
Specifying the goals ahead of time will prioritize development and keep everyone on track to ensure that the end product is on point.
2. Who is the target audience?
"Know your audience"
Starting with your end goals in mind and working backward will keep us all on track. We need to know who it is that the website will be talking to, what they need, and how we can provide it.
Knowing whom the site is talking to will help determine the overall look and feel and nature of the user experience.
3. What constitutes a successful project?
Using the details above, we can now put into words what it means to produce a finished project.
In answering this question, we will also discuss your budget expectations. We want to make sure that the web site design aligns with your expectations.
Now that we have the necessary information, it's time to put it to use.
It is time to design.
No one wants to spend countless hours on rewrites. While it is unavoidable that there will be edits and tweaks along the way, the more design work accomplished ahead of time, the quicker and easier it will be to deliver success.
If you have seen a similar web site that you like the look of or if you have any design ideas, then this is where we can gather that information. If you'd instead like to leave the design up to us, that's great. We're good at it.
The first thing you will see from us is a non-functional prototype. The prototype may be a simple wireframe for small projects or a much more detailed mockup.
We will meet again at this point to discuss the prototype and make improvements and changes. There may be several iterations of the design before everyone is satisfied.
Once design work has concluded, we will finalize the budget and create a payment plan. For larger projects, it is common to use a milestone system where payment gates to completion of specific, well-defined features.
And now the fun begins.
Details vary depending on the specific nature of the project, but in essence, a basic flow occurs:
1. Set up the project
The first thing we do is bootstrap the project. We set up staging environments, get CMS tools set up, create project code repositories, and write the first code.
2. Iterate through tasks/milestones.
Depending on the size of the project, milestones may track development stages; otherwise, individual tasks can serve a similar purpose.
After a milestone of development ends, it will be made available on a staging environment for review. It is common that at this point, you may see something that initially seemed like a great idea but now feels out of place or clunky. We take this opportunity to review the milestone so we can identify these issues early and resolve them before moving on to the next step.
Remember, this is your creation. Please don't be shy about telling us something needs to be changed.
3. SEO and finalization
This step is not as much a separate step as it is an ongoing effort. At every stage, we take great care to keep the code at a high quality, and we ensure that the website operates quickly and efficiently. However, after every milestone closes, it is good practice to take a final look at everything and make sure it is reliable.
There will be a final review session followed by some possible final revisions, and then your site will be made available to the public!
Plan for the future
It's a good idea to consider your plans for your web site. Together we will answer questions like:
- What kind of challenges do you expect?
- Do you see the potential for new features or enhancements?
- How much maintenance is required?
We generally recommend setting up a small monthly retainer for our services so we can ensure we are available to make future changes and manage web hosting.
Nothing makes us happier at MachineServant than seeing someone's idea come to life. Being a part of that journey is the most fulfilling part of our work.