D E S I G N
Your website can be the first contact with potential customers. You have to make a good first impression. A clean, professional design with easy-to-use navigation will pull the visitor in and keep them on the website. Once they enter the site you can answer their questions, explain the benefits of your products and services, and begin to build their trust in your products. Your personality and individual style can shine through your well designed website and make your organization personable and trustworthy.
Your image and brand awareness are formed by everything that your organization does: your customer service, physical building, signage, printed materials and website. Your brand awareness is everything that your customer thinks about when they think of your company. This means there cannot be any lapses or inconsistencies in any area where your customer comes in contact with you.
When a visitor views a website, the first thing they typically see is the logo because it is almost always strategically placed in the upper left hand corner due to the fact that people read top to bottom, left to right. The logo is the base and most important element for the entire website because it sets the tone, color palette and distinct look of the entire website. It also establishes design parameters by specifying and evoking a distinct look and feel to which the the homepage and the rest of the website should expand upon and further support. If you currently do not have a logo, are not satisfied with your existing logo or maybe just looking to clean it up and improve it, we suggest taking a look at the companies below who specialize and provide a simple, online and cost-effective process for getting you the perfect logo.
Once you have the desired logo, the next step in the design process is developing a homepage mockup. A mockup is a picture of what the designer envisions for the layout of your homepage. It is a snapshot that attempts to put a visual design to the ideas and requirements that have been specified. It is important to remember that a mockup is not a website, it is just a basic image design file that tries to take an intangible concept and begin to create a tangible working model.
Our designers typically prefer being able to design a few different mockups using different styles and layouts so you as the customer has some choice as to which design style they prefer. Mockup design is one of the places where our artistry and creativity comes through for our customers.
Once a homepage mockup is adopted as the look and feel for the homepage, the next step is to wireframe the website. Wireframing involves the planning and detailed outlining of the websites navigational structure, what inner pages are going to be needed, the usability of each of these additional pages. Wireframing, similar to mocking up, takes an intangible understanding of what the site will have on it and actually diagrams it out as an outline on paper in order to make sure that both the customer and the developers are on the same page.
Once wireframing is complete, the outline will provide a list of the needed inner pages required to make the website complete. Inner pages typically take less time to design because they will be populated with dynamic content and share common elements such as a header, footer, and often a side bar. However, it is important to plan out each of the different types of inner pages in order to ensure accurate and well-designed templates, especially if different graphics are being used for each type. Typical inner pages include, but are not limited to, the following tempaltes:
– Side Bar
– Product Detail
– Static Page
Logo creation, mockups, wireframing, and inner page design are the core components of website design. When executed in order, in a timely fashion, by professional web designers, with feedback from the website owner, the final result is a solid website foundation which is ready to move into the programming phase.
STEP TWO: P R O G R A M M I N G
Once the design phase is complete, and the design frozen, the process moves forward into the development and programming phases. It is important to carefully review and make all necessary changes before signing off and freezing the design because it is difficult and costly to go back once development and programming begin. It is important to communicate during this programming implementation phase to maximize results and minimize scope creep. For reference, scope creep occurs when the scope of a project expands beyond what was originally discussed and agreed upon. As issues arise, we guide you through the decision making process, explain terminology, answer questions, and help with best practices that we have learned through experience. Our strength is our understanding of CFWebstore and the underlying technologies and methodologies enough to know what is possible, and offer value-added suggestions as to the best way to proceed.
The programming phase is the next step where we begin slicing up the design templates crated during the design phase and overlaying them on top of the template files. This maintains the existing functionality while changing the look and feel to what has been specified. Once the default logo, colors, and graphics are adjusted, we move onto the wireframe detail. Certain pages are removed, others are added, and the default navigation with appropriate hyperlinks is developed. If a dynamic header or side menu was specified in the design phase, it is developed and installed at this point in the programming. Once these items are complete, the website and database has been setup on the server, the default system has been loaded onto the domain, the website logo, color palette, and graphics have replaced the templates defaults, the necessary inner pages have been added and the unnecessary inner pages removed base on the wireframe layout, and finally the dynamic header or side bar menu will have been added if it was called for.
The next part of programming addresses any minor functional changes required by adding or modifying code on the respective template files. We attempt to keep code modifications to a minimum because our Content Management System (CMS) is continually updating the system and putting out new versions. Modifying the base code makes upgrades more difficult and increases the chance of problems occurring during the upgrade process. However, we are able to plan, quote and execute custom functionality requests for clients who have legitimate and specific business requirements that do not fit the standard functionality and can budget for the cost of that custom programming.
Finally, in order to reduce the need for custom programming by individual clients, we frequently monitor customer requests and make not of those requests that seem to be recurring and have a legitimate business purpose that can extend across multiple industries. In these situations, we review the need and carefully plan out both the development and implementation of what we term an ‘Add-On Module’ for the CMS system. By standardizing and doing the development work upfront on the ‘Add-On Module’ we are able to share the cost among several customers, reduce implementation time, and manage which modules different websites are utilizing for reference during our upgrades. To see a list of our current ‘Add-On Modules’, their respective descriptions click on the links below.
Any time programming is done, we review and analyze the site to determine final adjustments / corrections that need to be made, and test to verify everything is functioning properly.