The MicroAngelo Web Development Process
This page aims to explain the entire development process in detail, imagining we’re sitting beside you explaining it as we go along. If you’d rather have a look at a quick overview, please see the flow diagram and summary at the bottom of the page.
First let's have a quick Q & A, to determine the driving factors behind creating the site.
Q & A
What is the objective behind the site? There may be one over-riding reason behind creating the site, or you may have several compelling objectives for wanting an online presence.
We need to make these absolutely clear before doing anything else. Often, these reasons are very defined and obvious (but let's not assume that - let's state them explicitly). Maybe you want to start selling your product or service online, 24 hours a day?
Or possibly your company would like to streamline the day to day office processes or documents, or enable communication and collaboration on-line between employees, regardless of their location?
It could be that you need to share information with selected other companies, or publish reports and documents online? Of course, company promotion is a very common reason behind a website. The truth is the web has become so powerful recently that listing all the possibilities is endless!
If you've got an idea, and want to know if it's feasible, we'd love to hear from you. The most exciting projects out there are the ones pushing back the boundaries, exploring new realms of possibilities on the web, making new ideas a reality!
The End Users
Once we've established the objectives behind the site, let's find out about it's potential users.
Who are they? Ideally you might know something about the different groups of users, such as their age, gender, income etc (their demographics). What do they want? Before designing a site for them, we need to know what information or service they require from the site.
For some sites, there may be just one set of potential users. Other sites may have several groups of potential users, each with different requirements, and different tastes and technical abilities.
The style and content of your site must be appropriate to its users. If it's for internal use, within your company, you can specify the technologies used without worrying about excluding anyone (because, of course, you are in control of the technologies the user's computer supports).
On the other hand, perhaps your target users are not very tech savvy - therefore it's sensible to avoid using any extra web technologies (see the “Website Features & Technologies” page for more information), that they may not be able to use, to convey critical information. A design tailored to users in their twenties is probably inappropriate to users in their sixties.
The final variable to figure at this stage is the project budget. This clearly makes a world of difference to what can be achieved. But it isn't instantly obvious exactly what can be achieved with £8000 compared to £4000.
Most companies have a pre-defined budget, but it pays to be flexible if a change of budget will deliver a significantly improved result, with greater functionality.
Normally when companies are considering commissioning a new website they, naturally, are unaware of the full potential available to them, and it's always changing. Therefore this is an important subject for us to talk about.
Negotiate Specification & Contract
Following on from these discussions we start to build a broad project specification, setting out the overall functionality and features required.
From the specification we produce an estimate of the time involved, from which the cost of the website is derived. This is the third box (Negotiate Specification & Contract) from the top in the flow diagram below.
As you can see we've already covered the first two boxes in the flow diagram, and once we've agreed upon the specification, contract, time plan and cost, we're ready to begin producing the website!
At this point we need to assign a single point of contact within your company, and a dedicated MicroAngelo Personal Project Manager.
One of the great strengths of our business is our approach to communications. Throughout the collaboration your Project Manager will be your sole point of contact. He knows your project back-to-front, and because the single point of contact within your company and the Project Manager are working in partnership, they establish a productive working relationship.
Our Project Managers utilise every method of communications available to them, including internet messaging, Skype internet telephony, phone, and of course email, to make the back and forth of information and ideas as easy as possible.
Equally it is important to assign a single point of contact within your company to work with the Project Manager, because typically the information and decisions required for the project will made by various different people throughout the company, the single point of contact has ready access to these people.
Design Life Cycle
After assigning a single point of contact and Project Manager, we enter the design life cycle.
At this stage you need to supply us with all your corporate branding and sales materials, such as: company logo(s), fonts, colours, brochures, sales material, adverts, letterheads, business cards etc.
We also need to ascertain what style your company desires. While this is often difficult to explain in words, it can be more convenient to spend some time browsing the internet, looking for a style that might work for the site. If you can find three or four websites that you like the look of (or you like one specific aspect of that look), and possibly three or four you don't like the look of.
Alternatively, if you would like to give the designer more free reign, he can base his designs upon your branding and his own creative talents. Typically the design cycle will begin by producing four mock-ups (images of what your website could look like).
Following on from a review and critique of these mock-ups, the designer will produce a second round of mock-ups, and this repeats until you have the look you're happy with. This process usually requires three or four cycles, at the end of which we have the website's design style, ready for the technical life cycle.
Technical Life Cycle
At the beginning of the technical life cycle we need you to supply us with the content for the website, including all the text, images, specifications and product data.
Programmers can then take the website mock-up produced in the design life cycle, and convert it from an image into a webpage. Depending on your particular specification, they will also program any 'back-end' required, such as a database, or admin area allowing you to easily submit or add content to the site.
At this stage your supplied content is put into the site. Also any Flash applications or presentations, or web based applications (see the “Website Features & Technologies” page for more information), are created and implemented in the site.
During the development stage the website is available online, on a private testing server, and you are encouraged to inspect the developments and give feedback.
Upon completing the site we enter the testing phase. During the development the functionality of the site is tested by the programmers.
However it is critical that the site receives a thorough testing by people that are new to it, seeing it with fresh eyes, as most of the users do. They can suggest improvements and critique the navigation, how easy it is to find what they're looking for, the ease of use, and suggest any additions to the site.
Typically the testers will be the employees of your company, however larger projects may warrant independent testing.
Once testing is finished and any changes are made, the site is ready to go live!
Preparing a launch campaign is a great way to promote the new site initially, which could include newspaper, magazine, television, and radio adverts.
Also incorporate your web address into your corporate branding, business cards, stationary, bags or packaging, company vehicles and buildings, uniforms, pens, everything!
For more information on promoting your website online see Internet Marketing.
Throughout the project a Daily Status Report keeps you up-to-date with developments, and keeps a detailed record of the site's evolution.
You are informed straight away of any choices in development, have control over the direction of the project, and immediate notification of any set-backs that may occur.
This is another unique aspect of working with MicroAngelo, and to us, a fundamental aspect of our methodology.
Initial Consultation & Branding Sessions(s): Firstly we analyse your business, clients, industry, competition & goals.
With this information we can tailor the design to best fit your needs, and best serve the websites users. Next we consider your company branding; collecting all your company’s brochures, sales materials, adverts, business cards, letter heads etc. The website design must be consistent with your existing company branding.
Our team of professional designers are available if your company doesn’t have these materials, or if you wish to create a new corporate image, please Contact Us.
Initial Specification: From the information gathered during the initial consultation we will draw up an Initial Specification, detailing what will be done, how long each phase will take (for larger projects) and the investment involved.
Design Life Cycle: A graphical design mock-up of your website is created. From this the website’s colour scheme, navigation style, font selection, layout and the overall look and feel can be evaluated and tweaked.
When the prototype is perfected the project can continue into the creation stage.
Technical Life Cycle: First the purely graphical webpage design must be converted from an image to a webpage.
The webpage will be coded using Web Standards to ensure compatibility, accessibility, updatability and speed. The technical life cycle includes the back-end of the site.
Testing & Launch: Comprehensive, multi-platform, multi-device and multi-browser testing of your website ensures functionality and compatibility. Following testing, the site goes live to a potential audience of billions!
Search Engine Optimisation & Promotion (optional): Your website’s position in the listings of search engines (such as Google) is vital to the resulting visitor numbers.
Also targeted online advertisements can generate visitors that are actively looking for your products or services. Our team of specialists are here to put you at the top of the list.