Ondetto’s Website Creation Process
Having built websites for small businesses and organisations in Geelong and beyond for 8 years, I have a fairly tight process for creating new websites. I thought I’d outline our process here to give new clients some background information.
1st Step: Establish website requirements and provide a quote
When I first meet with a client (or chat via phone or email) I try to get a general idea of their website requirements and aspirations. Sometimes this is very straightforward, and sometime it can get more complicated and require some further discussions and research. This also includes finding out whether the client prefers a custom design or a simpler template website.
Once I have a list of requirements I can provide a quote and some rough timelines, which I send to the client for approval. If the quote is approved, a deposit invoice – usually 50% of the website price – is sent.
2nd Step: Refine requirements and design brief
The next step is to work with the client to refine the website requirements, create a more detailed sitemap (a list of pages on the website) and establish the client’s design preferences, branding guidelines etc. I have a template that I fill in to create a more formal design brief if the client has chosen a custom design. We may also involve the graphic designer in a meeting with the client if appropriate and necessary.
3rd Step: Prepare content
Most of my clients choose to provide the text for the website content themselves, although we can put them in touch with a copywriter if needed. We can also provide details for photographers if images for the website need to be taken.
This is the step where the client needs to put in some work to organise text, photos etc for the website. I recently wrote another blog post about this step in particular, please click here to read my “7 Tips for Preparing Website Content”.
4th Step: Design the website
This step only applies if the client has chosen a custom designed website.
For custom designs, I work with a couple of local, very talented (and lovely!) graphic designers. I provide them with the design brief that has been created in Step 2, as well as the website content and images. Sometimes we can use placeholder text and images, but the results are usually much better with “real” content.
One of the designers I work with has written a guest blog post for me a little while ago about setting your designer up for success, you may want to check it out here.
It usually takes a couple of weeks for the designer to come back with a design draft. The design is then sent to the client for review, and we may go through a couple of rounds of changes until the design is approved.
5th Step: Build the website
In this step, I register a domain if needed, set up a web hosting plan, install WordPress on the server, set up the website pages, enter content, upload images, install any necessary plugins such as eCommerce plugins, configure all plugins, install and configure the theme etc.
For template websites, I then make some customisations to the code such as matching font colours and styles to the logo, making sure the website works well on mobile etc.
For custom designs, we need to write some code to replicate the design provided by the graphic designer on the actual website. This can sometimes involve quite a lot of work and thousands of lines of code, as well as specialist skills. As this work is quite time consuming I work with a specialist web developer to complete this part of the website creation process. I then test and quality control the website and make any final tweaks.
The website content also needs to be assessed for search engine optimisation, making sure the main keywords appear in all the right places.
Step 5: Website review and refinement
Once the website has been built, I send a link to the client to review the website. At this stage there may be minor tweaks to the design, and quite often there will be changes to the content. There may also be some content that still needs to be provided by the client to finalise the website. This step usually involves a bit of back and forth communication to refine the website features.
Step 6: Website launch
Once the website has been approved and finalised, we are ready to launch it. We need to point the domain name to the new server, probably purchase and install an SSL certificate, test functionality such as email forms or online shops, install Google Analytics tracking, install security and caching plugins, create a sitemap and submit the website to Google and Bing to be listed in search engines. If the website is a redesign of an older website, we also need to make sure the old links redirect to the new website.
Step 7: Training
In this step I schedule a training session with the client to explain how to update the website content. In addition to an in-person training session (if the client is in Geelong) we also install video training on the website and provide a written manual. If the client is further afield we can schedule the training via the phone and a screen sharing app.
Sometimes Steps 6 and 7 are swapped, e.g. for eCommerce websites where clients need to add more products before the website is ready to launch.
Step 8: Website maintenance setup
Once a website is launched, the work is unfortunately not done yet. Websites need to be updated on an ongoing basis for several reasons – to stay relevant and have updated information available, to stay compatible with external plugins, server software etc, and most importantly for security reasons. I have written another blog post recently about WordPress maintenance, click here to read it.
If the client has signed up for a website maintenance plan, I set up a maintenance plugin that allows me to update all websites from a central console, and I also set up uptime monitoring so that I am alerted in case of downtime.
Once a final invoice has been sent the process of creating and launching the website is complete. This is where I invite clients to keep in touch in case they need any changes to the website or help with their digital marketing.
I hope this has given you a better insight into my process. As you can see, building a website is a team effort with lots of moving parts. In my experience quality content, a tight process and good communication are the keys to success!