The staff at Momentum New Media has years of experience working on projects for all sorts of different clients. We believe and embrace the idea that each project is unique. Our success across all of our different projects can be directly attributed to our wealth of experience and continued use of our proven 7-phase design/development process. As much as possible, we strive to use a standard process in our approach for projects. Although it can seem like overkill for smaller projects, one thing we’ve discovered is that when it comes to building websites for unique organizations, there are no shortcuts.
Our Seven Phase Process
Our workflow goes through the following seven phases:
- Content Development
- Testing & Launch
- Post-launch & Maintenance
Phase 1 – Concept
This is where the project is defined. Our key tool for establishing the concept is the creative brief. This is the document we revert back to if we have questions about the goals or requirements of the project, or if scope creep threatens to interfere. Once the scope of the project is fully understood a project plan can be developed.
Phase 2 – Discovery
The discovery phase begins with a kick-off meeting in which the project is officially started. This phase largely involves research into: the competitive landscape, users’ needs and goals, and so on. Various elements of the web site, outlined in the Concept phase, will likely be updated based on the results of this work.
Phase 3 – Content Development
Content development and Design (phase 4), actually tend to occur simultaneously rather than successively. For instance, we need to get a good idea of the information architecture (IA) of the site (which is done in the design phase) before we start developing the content. As the content is developed, it will typically impact the IA – adding or taking away pages, and in some cases, even entire sections of a site.
Phase 4 – Design
Design begins with the development of the site’s information architecture and the testing of it using lo-fi prototypes, which are usually mock-ups created in Word or Powerpoint. This testing phase is critical as it’s very easy to make changes here that would be rather time-consuming to do later in the project. Once we have the web site IA worked out, the actual visual design is done and approved. We try to build in sufficient time for the visual design piece to be as iterative as needed – there’s nothing worse than trying to be creative when up against a really tight deadline. Getting approval of the design before starting Development (phase 5), is crucial. Reworking a design is much easier to do in Photoshop than in HTML, so it really saves time to make sure that the development phase focuses solely on building the site, and not designing ‘on-the-fly’.
Phase 5 – Development
This phase involves building the site template, followed by the pages themselves. We like to review the site template before the bulk of the pages are built in order to ensure that the coding is up to scratch. During this phase, minor design tweaks are not uncommon, as we’re always thinking of ideas about how certain aspects of a site can be improved. However, if these ideas could cause a change in deadlines, they may well get pushed back to a ‘phase 2′ enhancement. We also like to do additional usability testing on the actual site to ensure nothing has been overlooked. And, of course, the site goes through a thorough content and code QA check.
Phase 6 – Launch
Theoretically, launch is pretty straight-forward. This phase is when your site goes ‘live’ or is published to the web. We never launch on a Friday and make sure that the appropriate support is available in the event IT resources are needed. Once the site is live, we’ll do a complete link check and also check that all site applications are functioning properly.
Phase 7 – Post-launch & Maintenance
After the site is live, we set up a maintenance plan with the client to ensure that site content is timely and updates are performed as needed. Our team will then do an internal project critique, and later, one with the client. These critiques are extremely important as we can learn from things that went well and things that didn’t.
There are always exceptions to any rule or process… How closely we actually adhere to this process depends on several things including, size of the project, technical requirements and time frame for completion. On occasion, steps are skipped based on these factors; however, if client constraints are the cause, we explain the potential implications and risks to the success of the project.