Below is a description of my standard site design and development process. Some projects require adjustments, but overall I have found this to be the most efficient sequence:

  1. Discovery
  2. Planning
  3. Design
  4. Development
  5. Internal Testing
  6. Client Review and Testing
  7. Client Training
  8. Launch and User Testing
  9. Client Hand-Off
  10. Future Maintenance

1. Discovery

  • Initial receipt of specifications and requirement documents, and consultation with the project owners
  • The specific goals of the project are determined and used to create a foundation for the rest of the process (Master Outline described in section 2. Planning)
  • I review the project specifications, and suggest changes related to accessibility and web standards, if required
  • I research the specific circumstances of the project (consult existing analytics, similar products, competition, the client’s specific industry and its best practices, research potential existing user tests for similar projects, etc.)
  • Content gathering
    1. The client provides all content for the various sections and features of the site, and the relevant requirements for each piece of content
    2. I review and structure the content into logical UX patterns, according to usability and accessibility standards
    3. Client review of the final structural outline of the project, usually in the form of a site map

2. Planning

  • Master Outline: I make a detailed outline of the methods, design patterns and frameworks I plan to use, which I share with the owner, to ensure that what I plan to build is workable on their end. The Master Outline consist of:
    1. Complete list of the site contents, grouped in navigation categories, templates and pages, each described in detail
    2. Complete list of site features; each feature and its characteristics described in detail
    3. Software to be used and the concrete means of creating and maintaining each feature or piece of content
  • Timeline: I create a timeline, with estimated dates for the various milestone points in the project:
    1. Design phase
    2. Development phase
    3. Deployment to staging servers for client testing
    4. Iterating on client feedback
    5. Launch and user testing

3. Design

  • Master Proofs: I create proofs for a few generic layouts, either as graphic mockups or HTML prototypes; these will give a good understanding of the overall look and feel of the final product, as well as showcase global elements (headers, footers, typography, color pallets, etc.). Proofs are delivered for both mobile and desktop scenarios. These usually include a home page and an interior layout, depending on the project. 
  • Once the initial design concepts are approved, I centralize them into a Design System, which will act as a reference document for the development stage and the lifetime of the project

4. Development

  • Custom Features: programming of the project’s features,  according to the Master Outline and in tone with the Master Proofs; this is usually the longest segment of the process
  • Default Features: 
    1. Ensuring all resources on the client’s previous site will be accessible and accounted for in the new one; this helps avoid broken links and lost users
    2. Fully responsive design, and optimization for mobile screens, tested across all modern devices
    3. Security:
      1. SSL certificate
      2. Data encryption
      3. Protection of proprietary and private data
    4. ADA compliance review; this ensures the site is accessible to disabled users and eliminates client liability

5. Internal Testing

  • I deploy the initial iteration of the developed product to my testing servers; during this time, the web app is private and lives in a password protected area
    • I ensure all content in the Master Outline is implemented and accessible
    • I QA and stress-test the web app on several metrics and benchmarks:
      • Speed and performance
      • Load tests; simulate heavy usage and determine the site’s performance under pressure (heavy traffic, resource-intensive content, etc.)
      • Code review; I submit the app code to be peer-reviewed by a network of independent developers
      • Iterate based on the results of the tests
  • I run professional testing tools ahead of migrating the app to its production server

6. Client Review and Testing

  • The private staging environment is shared with the client for review and testing of the new web app
  • Iterations based on client feedback, if any

7. Client Training

  • Using the new site features
  • Maintenance and updates
  • Best practices (dos and don’ts)
  • Editorial and content training as it relates to accessibility and web standards

8. Launch and User Tests

  • I design tests, usually A/B, to test the new designs and features against the old ones, based on site analytics
  • I make design changes, based on the results of the tests, if required, and test again

9. Client Hand-Off

The finished product is transferred to the client

10. Future Maintenance and Monitoring

I create a maintenance plan for the client, addressing:

  • Product support
  • Ongoing maintenance
  • Development of future features
  • Hosting
  • Monitoring by the client and the developer

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