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WEBSITE BUILDING BASICS #4 – What are the steps to building a website?

[Welcome to post #4 in a series of posts about Website Building Basics. Don’t forget to comment and ask your questions. I’ll answer them in future posts!]

Once I was building a site for a client — a decent-sized medical practice. I spent a lot of time on this site with the client and one day, on the phone, he sighed and said, “boy, this is a lot of work!” Not everyone is clear on just how much work is involved. Here, I’ll lay out the process in an outline form, with notes, so that you can see what’s involved. I think that knowing a lot more about what you’re getting into will really help you prepare and keep the project on track.

Let’s assume a client has hired me to build a website, with a blog, including creating the design, doing SEO, and setting up social media accounts. I’d use WordPress for the site engine, most likely. After the administrative formalities — initial meeting (in person or via Skype), discovery, proposal, contract, deposit and such — we’d dive right in.

Prep:

  1. Client will  collect all content for site — all of the info that s/he wants to be seen. This will include things like form fields for any contact forms; info for contact page, ebook downloads, products for e-commerce, company history, staff bios and photos, and the like.
  2. I will follow up by reviewing the content, clarifying anything that is unclear.
  3. Hire copywriter/editor, if needed (add-on cost).
  4. Confirm desired search terms with client.
  5. I will begin to do SEO research into the client, its competitors and the industry.
  6. If the client doesn’t have image content, I’ll do a search and present options from stock photo services (add-on cost).
  7. Final content due.
  8. Final image selections approved.

Structure:

  1. Site wireframe/flow chart (probably in the shape of a design-free, content-free demo site)
  2. Wireframe feedback and edits
  3. Finalize wireframes
  4. Final wireframes approved

Tech:

  1. If the client doesn’t have a domain, hosting company, I will purchase domain and set up hosting. Client can do this instead, it just depends on how comfortable s/he is. If client already has this set up, I will collect client login info for domain registrar, web host, twitter and other social media, email if needed.
  2. Have client add me as admin to Facebook.
  3. Check for Google Analytics and set up account if needed.

Design:

  1. Logo design – round one
  2. Logo round two
  3. Logo approved
  4. Make suggestions for premium designs/layouts OR discuss custom design with designer
  5. Review design and send tweaks to designer
  6. Feedback from client
  7. Edits
  8. Final designs
  9. Final designs approved
Photo credit: Aimee Low    Source: Morguefile

Photo credit: Aimee Low    Source: Morguefile

Building:

  1. Review and prep clean, labeled, layered PSD file(s) for developer or purchase premium theme
  2. Install WordPress on staging server and check Do Not Allow Indexing
  3. Build out site
  4. Review coded betasite
  5. Add site content
  6. Add images and tweak content on beta site
  7. Add SEO content
  8. Client review & 1 round of edits
  9. Final client approval
  10. Set launch date
  11. Send final invoice

Launch:

  1. Launch site
  2. Send Launch Congratulations Email!
  3. Add Google Analytics, report set up, webmaster accounts and register with search engines
  4. Set up website growth plan

Clearly, this is a very simplified outline of what needs to be done, depending upon what’s required for the job. And the job itself can last from weeks to months, depending on the scope of the site and the speed with which the client collects info and gives approvals. But this should give you an idea of what is involved in general when it comes to building your site. Questions? Need clarification? Call me!

Be nice. Be real. Be happy.