How I Build Websites

Every website has different needs, but this is the general process I use to build websites.

Step 1: Discovery

I begin by talking with you about your business.  I seek to understand what qualities you value in a website and what you need the website to do and communicate.  I research solutions to any unique requirements you have.  I write up a project plan that tells you what work will be done and what the cost and completion timeframe will be.

Step 2: Content

I gather all the content needed to create the site. I survey existing website content. I research SEO keyword strategy. I interview you for information and write the copy (text) for your website. Some clients prefer to write their own copy.  In some cases I hire a copywriter. In these cases, I still edit the copy to make sure it is search optimized and works well on the website. I also gather the photos and graphics needed for the website.  I review existing photo sources you have.  I can help hire a photographer to shoot photos that are needed.  I can also find and purchase stock photos.  I edit all these photos to look great and work well on the website. Making an okay photo look excellent is one of my specialties. If the site needs special graphics or illustrations, I can purchase, create, or hire an illustrator to create these. I also gather any videos, audio and PDF documents that will be used on the website.

Step 3: Logo and Branding

The launch of a new website is a great opportunity to evaluate your logo and branding.  You may have a great logo and other visual brand components like colors, fonts, and tag lines.  If so, I will use these in the design.  But perhaps you have an old logo that’s not so great. I may be able to tighten it up and make it look more professional.  Then again, maybe you need to start from scratch and get new logo designed for your business. In this case, I will help you hire a logo designer. If we get a logo made or I do work on your existing logo, I will get you the files you need to use that logo on print pieces, signs, advertising, and other media you create in the future.

Step 4: Web Design

Now we start to see what the website is going to look like. I focus on the visual look and feel of the site and the creative concepts of the design. This design work is generally done in a graphics program like Photoshop where it’s easier to be creative and focus on creating a beautiful design.  I don’t design every page, but usually just create most of the home page and part of another page.  I design phone and desktop versions of the pages.  I do just enough design work so you can see where I’m going with it and give me feedback before I start building out the site. This is the process for designing a custom theme. However, in some cases, based on your needs and priorities, I may recommend that we use an existing theme and customize it.  In this case I will spend this time researching theme options and get your input on this choice.

Step 5: Development

In this step I build out the website. I set up WordPress, hosting, and domains. I create a custom theme based on the design mockups or I install and customize an existing theme. I configure WordPress and write custom code to add needed functionality.  I build out all of the pages, adding and editing text, photos, videos, and graphics. I test everything and make adjustments for different devices and screen sizes. I edit content and settings for SEO. I usually show you the site once a few pages are done, get feedback and make adjustments.  Then I build out the rest of the site and send it to you again to review. I do additional work to improve the performance and security of the site.

Step 6: Training and Launch

I launch the site and do some final SEO work, hosting setup and domain configuration.  I also train you to edit content and make changes on the website.  I can do an in-person training, but I usually prefer to record screencast videos walking you through the process of editing your site. These videos are useful if you need a refresher someday or hire someone new who needs to edit the site. Some clients don’t want to edit their site and just email me when they need to add or change something. I’m happy to handle all edits if you prefer.

Step 7: Support and Maintenance

This is ongoing work.  I monitor your website to make sure it is up and running well. I install security updates several times a year and keep regular backups of the site. I check site traffic and search performance to make sure there are no problems. I help you add content or make modifications to the site as needed.