How to Develop a Website So You Can Measure It's Merit

We follow these 12 Steps to keep digital projects fresh and informative.
1. Goals

What are you selling? Who's buying? What sorts of information do you need to present and in what fashion? Answering these questions is no simple task. Inexperienced web designers have a tendency to "put the cart before the horse". In other words, they will madly charge head first into a project without considering the most fundamental starting point - your website's goals. We will meet with you to determine exactly what it is you perceive as the goals for your website. You might be interested in a very simple approach, using your website as an online brochure. You may want to sell your goods or services over the Internet. This step is critical in that it will define the effort required for the rest of the project. Establishing who your target audience, or demographic, is, is a critical phase in development. It is vital to have a firm grasp on who your website will be working for, and to gain some insight into how your audience will most likely utilize it.

2. Scope Knowing what you want to achieve with your website gives everyone involved something to focus on. Whenever a decision needs to be made, we always return to the scope and review your objectives: How will this decision affect the goals?

Answering this question gives you a foundation for the rest of the project. If certain elements will help achieve the goals, they are included. If other elements do nothing to achieve the goal, they can be left out. If this philosophy sounds rather simple to you, excellent. You would be surprised how often it is overlooked. And it is simple. The most profound questions usually are. Are you communicating effectively with your customers? Can they navigate through your site easily and efficiently? Is your design both attractive and appropriate? We also gather some technical information from this step in terms of keywords and descriptions.
By clarifying what the goals and scope of your business on the Web, we will establish the types of keywords (to be utilized in META tags, titles and descriptions) we want to utilize in order to maximize your Search Engine placements. We are now both confident in the number of pages to be developed, what they will be called and how they will flow between each other.

3. Research

In this step, we will define the structure of your website. Some people refer to this as a ‘Site Map’. If you have an existing website, we could potentially use this as a starting point. The physical architecture of your website (which will mimic the actual flow of content that your users experience) must be well thought out and must be conceived with a user-centric approach in mind. What this means is that the flow of your website must follow the way a user will navigate. What you believe to be a logical hierarchy might make no sense at all to your customers. We will outline some of the tasks that we believe users might undertake, and then design the hierarchy of your website around those tasks. This is a user-centric design.

Once we have defined the pages within your website, we will spec out how the content for these pages will be developed. Will you write the content yourself or have Talahi do it for you? Perhaps a combination would be the best solution. Either way, defining what we anticipate to appear on your web pages is crucial to development of the Site Map.

During this step, we will also define any special development pieces that may be required. Whether you want some Flash animations, database-driven pages, feedback forms, or any other automated procedures or code, they will be identified here.

4. Design

Our unique approach to builds and promotes websites that work. Identify  goals first, develop second. Sound intuitive? You'd be surprised how seldom this is done. During this phase, one of the most time-consuming, a design concept will be put forward by Talahi. Based on your feedback refinements will be performed and a final concept will be agreed upon. These designs will be developed with, once again, the user in mind. Your preferences are, of course, the final word on the design decisions, however.

Some often overlooked design elements will also be established during this step. Appropriate fonts and colors need to be established to ensure consistency throughout your website.

5. Writing

Newspapers, magazines, radio, television and lately the Interent each have a distinct style of writing that is best suited for that particular medium. So writing for the web is yet another skill that must be learned. People read things differently on the web.

The written content must be concise, well though out and developed for a certain readership level. Not everyone is a nuclear scientist and hardly has an IQ of 60. So the message you put forth must fall into a middle area, easy for anyone to grasp. This content will be based on your current advertising and marketing program.

Your input is vital. Who else better knows what you produce, sell or service?

6. Layout

The layout of a website requires a good deal of programming. Several "canned" website development software programs are available. Our staff uses Macromedia Dreamweaver and "good ole" HTML skills to perform our layouts. A good programmer realizes that different Internet browsers interrupt data in different manners.

Therefore, it is most important your layout is configured so any browser will present the content you wish your visitor to see. Our programmers are excellent. We now begin to create all the individual pages in your website. From your Home Page to your Contact Us page, right down to your individual product pages, your website will be one that loads quickly, is pleasing to the eye, moves smoothly from page to page and provides the message you desire.

7. Review

The pages within your site will now be functional and you will be able to view your website in reality for the first time. During this phase we work together to determine if the website is structured as intended. Has the Scope of the project been kept in mind during development. Do we think the Goals will be achieved as outlined earlier.

Is there consistency among all pages in your website. Does the color theme hold true. Do the graphics work. Are all the links and navigational elements functioning properly We also look for all the background technical data (e.g. keywords, descriptions and META tags) that were implemented to help gain good Search Engine placement.

8. Test

This is essentially the final development step. A paper printout is made to determine what happens when a visitor to your website prints out the data for themselves. The website is thoroughly tested to ensure it is error-free. All forms, survey pages, questionnaires and email links are checked for function. Any changes and fixes are made before posting to the Internet.

We make a backup copy of your website for storage purposes.

9. Post

Well, now it's time to let the people of the world see what you have to offer them! Your good and services will be available to anyone, anywhere with a computer and an Internet connection. The next phase is critical! Promote, Promote, Promote.

10. Promote

We use search engine optimization techniques for our clients that are well researched and successful. They have met with tremendous success, helping to increase lead generation, increase service interest, increase website traffic and increase revenues. We know you want to grow your business, and we can ensure that your website works hard to do just that. Getting your site listed in the major search engines is no easy feat. Is your site getting all the visitors you want?

However, many other methods are available to promote your website. Your website should be the central point for all other advertising. Your domain address easily fits on business cards, letterhead, envelopes, invoices, flyers, newsletters, menus, prices lists . . . the list is endless. When you use the radio or television, it's imperative to have your website prominently displayed, either audibly and visually. Newspaper ads, magazine layouts, billboards and company vehicles all need to display the website address.

11. Analyze

Now we must see if you are communicating effectively with your customers? Can they navigate through your site easily and efficiently? Is your design both attractive and appropriate? Anyone can make a website pretty, but can they make it a website that works.

Our Monthly Maintenance Program provides statistics that are gathered each day concerning your website and the activity thereon. What pages have the most traffic. From where do visitors arrive? How long do they review the website. Do they return.

Some often overlooked design elements will also be established during this step. Appropriate fonts and colors need to be established to ensure consistency throughout your website.

12. Update

This is a never ending process. For a website to be successful, it must evolve. Our Monthly Maintenace Program was designed to assist our customers in keeping their projects current. Changes will comes as you change personnel, develop new products, change pricing, add new locations, post annual reports and boast about community involvement.