While every client, and every project is different, much of the work we do is fairly linear from client to client, whether it comes to social management, digital advertising or website development. Here, we will focus more on the web development side of things, as it is generally the area where people feel most uncomfortable when first reaching out for our services and because there are a lot of hidden complexities. As one of our developers often said “it’s typically the things that look hard that are easy, and the things that look easy that are hard”.
I thought it might be helpful to take someone who is on the fence about outsourcing the development of their website through what it would be like to have our brokerage take over, rather than just using one of those oh so “convenient” website builders you’re always seeing ads about. You know the ones – where the attractive, savvy entrepreneurs (young and old) are clicking away on their laptop with a smile (and sometimes laughing hysterically?) on their face – what an easy experience! Now I’m really earning money for my business…right? Well, if you’ve ever tried one of these services, you know that it is far from easy (and far from free) to get exactly what you want. In fact, there are many, many catches and hidden fees to these “free” website builders, and shame on you for believing anything is truly free anymore! I won’t get into the specifics too much, however one of our staff here, Olivia, recently published a great exposé on these services that you can read more about here.
So, what does the process look like after you have decided to outsource the build of your site?
- We get to know you and your business
This is the fun part for us. In this stage, we have agreed to do business and you’ll be sitting down with myself, Sean and your assigned account manager. Sean and I will be part of the process when necessary throughout the whole project, but for the most part, you will be working directly with your account manager. They are the ones in charge of compiling everything we’ve learned from you about what you need and want your website to perform, and make it a reality. They will also be managing the design and development teams – but we’ll get to them later. Here, we are more focused on how you envision your website working for you. Do you just need an informational page where your customer can go check you out and then email or call for next steps? Do you need an e-commerce side to the site so customers are able to buy/ book/ reserve right then and there? Once we understand all the angles, we will then begin to form the wireframe around these components to ensure your customers are able to navigate the site in a way that is easy and makes the most sense. A lot of this is done through a one-on-one conversation and brainstorm session, however we have been able to streamline this process a bit with our specially crafted Web Package you can explore here.
- We’re off to design!
This is an exciting part for you! After we have secured a better understanding of your website, how it should function and have digested your branding and logo (assuming you have branding, if not, that would be covered beforehand) we will morph all this information into 3 amazing designs that are architecturally different than each other, but still accomplish the same goal. Really, it’s just a style choice from here on and it’s whatever resonates with you and your brand most! Our design team will take any feedback you have from the designs, and we can tweak them until you have something that you find is absolutely perfect. Changes might include page orientation, layout of copy or photos or the amalgamation of a few different components from each design. This is where you really get to be creative and lead the charge to get exactly what you want. We should also note that all our designers build these concepts in Figma or Adobe Illustrator. This makes it much easier to nail down the final changes and tweaks so our web developers don’t have to go in and change the code to accommodate changes. So, speak now or forever hold your peace – or just get your account manager to deal with a grumpy developer.
- What will you need for performance?
Here’s where it gets a little tricky. While we do our best to build everything custom for your site. In some cases, it just makes more sense to utilize what is called a plug-in. There are millions of these available in the development of a website, and they can come in handy. Essentially, these are programs that someone has written that perform tasks for you and your users. These can vary anywhere from a simple contact form to large, complex programs such as a full membership management system. We do have the ability to build anything you need, and we try to stick to that for a few reasons. First, you know it will be secure because nobody else uses it and therefore it will be a less likely target for malware and other harmful agents. Second, your site will operate much more efficiently with a custom-built program because it will only do exactly what you need it to do. Typically, with these larger plug-ins, if they have the ability to perform 100 actions and you really only need it to do 10, it will mean there is a lot of wasted bandwidth used and will negatively impact user experience. In this section, we will also ensure that we have set up and have passwords for your domain, hosting packages and in the case of e-commerce sites, payment processing accounts.
- We build it, so they will come
Okay, that was the hard part for you. Now it’s time to sit back and let us do our thing as the development team takes your final design with all your information and starts the final build of your new website! Don’t expect too many surprises in this section (and actually, hope for none either). This stage is fairly routine and is now totally up to our developers to take the PDF file of your design and make it a reality on the web. If you still haven’t figured out your hosting or domain just yet, or if you already have an existing site that we are getting ready to replace, don’t fret. We build all of our sites on a private server that we call, The Nufás Group, which you are officially a member of now – congrats! So your existing site will still be fully operational until your new one officially goes live. When it is finally time to go live, we try to make sure we only perform this task on Mondays or Tuesdays. Despite the copious amounts of testing we perform prior to going live, there can sometimes be some complications especially with large sites, so we allow ourselves a full week ahead to catch anything that might look a little buggy. After the site is completely live, your old site is no more and you are on your way.
- Test, test, test again
Let’s back it up here for a minute – we missed one big component that goes on behind the scenes. Throughout the entire development process, we like to keep our clients up to date. Not only by giving them regular progress reports, we also give them their own private link to their developing site so they can check in and see progress in real time. While you might not get the thumbs up from us saying that your site is 100% done, (even though it might look that way) our team will complete the build, sure, but then it is time to essentially try to break the site by using all the functions it offers a million different ways. Basically, a front to back test run of everything the site is capable of. This is especially important with e-commerce and membership based sites as you are dealing with a lot of sensitive information and a lot of moving parts. Then, once our development team is satisfied with their work, you will get the final O.K. and we will be ready to move forward.
- Leave the nest – or stay a while?
Saying goodbye is never easy. But hey, you don’t have to! Oftentimes, clients are very eager to do things themselves to their newly developed website, and we encourage this! It’s exciting to learn something new and it is always nice to be competent enough to make small, quick changes on the fly without any outside help. Typically the way we ensure you will be able to do this safely (without breaking something in the backend) there are two options we propose – well technically three. The first, is we invite you into the office once again or arrange a video call where your lead developer will first ask you what the most common tasks you would be performing, then take you on a step-by-step walkthrough of how to do this efficiently and easily. Second, if you are more of a visual learner, your lead developer will record their screen and slowly perform these common tasks themselves, and then send you the videos so that you can easily follow along, and re-watch as many times as required. Third is just, you want all the help you can get and want both the training session as well as the instructional video! Any way we can make your life easier beyond go-live, we will do everything we can to help. But wait, this doesn’t have to be goodbye! Some clients are a one-person show and are way too busy to be bothered with constantly managing system and plug-in updates, changing photos, changing wording and managing security threats so they leave it to us. This is fine too! For a small monthly retainer, we’ve got you covered.