How to plan a website design and development project for success

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What you need to have thought about before starting a website design and development project.

Getting an excellent website up and running does not have to be a frustrating or difficult experience. All it takes is a little knowledge, clear thinking and access to talented designers and developers.

Here are some tips to help you clarify what it is that you are buying before you make your initial approaches to ammonet. Taking the time to understand exactly what you want and a few ideas on how to put together a project plan for your website will improve your experience and ensure that you get the results you are looking for.

The following four step process that is essential to every website design and development project.

Step 1: Business Requirements

Firstly, determine what kind of activities you want your customers to be able to perform on your website. Do you want to set up an e-commerce site where potential customers can learn about and purchase your products? Do you want a billboard site with information about your company and where potential customers can go to purchase your products? Activities that you can provide for your customers may include:

- Shopping
- Registration
- Requesting information
- Searching a database
- Downloading or uploading files
- Discussion forums

Step 2: Feature Requirements

Identify the features that you want to add to your website to make it more engaging and interactive. For example, if you want to set up an e-commerce site, you may want to have a shopping cart. Some common features are:

- Forms - allows visitors easily to submit or request information.
- Message boards - visitors can leave or respond to messages.
- Photo galleries - display graphical information on your products or services.
- Statistics - track how often and from where your site and its component pages are accessed.
- Flash animation - create interesting animated content.
- Search - allow visitors to search for content.
- Shopping cart - software that collects and records the purchases of your customers.
- Inventory management - automatic updating of your inventory.

Step 3: Service Provider Requirements

Determine the expertise you need. There are two components to the creation of a website: design and development. Design deals with the front-end look and feel. Development deals with the back-end functionality. These are distinct skill sets that ammonet can provide.

Step 4: Local or remote content management

Decide whether your web site content will be updated by uploading files generated locally using an HTML editor such as FrontPage or Dreamweaver housed in your own office, or by using a server-side, remote content management system (CMS) that you access using your internet browser. ammonet has extensive experience with CMS development.

Step 5: Budget Requirements

Web site projects typically start at under a thousand dollars and go up to several thousand depending on the complexity and size of the site you would like. In addition to the cost of designing and developing your site, you need to consider these additional costs: domain name registration, site hosting and site maintenance.

Planning your website project.

Now that you know some of the basics, you need to put together a simple project plan to help you communicate your project needs. Follow these guidelines when putting your plan together.
  • Determine the objective of your website.
  • Define your audience.
  • Determine what content you will need.
  • Look at other sites for inspiration.
  • Develop a rough storyboard for your site to ensure that you have all the components.
  • Write up a detailed project description based on the information you have gathered.
By taking some time beforehand to understand what you want and how to get it done efficiently and cost effectively, your website project becomes a pleasurable experience both for you and your designers.

One last tip: please do listen to your designer and your developer - that's why you're talking to them. Some customers are convinced that they're better at web design than their designer and insist on things being done their way. Of course, your input is essential and you have to like the end result. But if you insist too often on doing the opposite of what your designer proposes, the consequent results are usually not good, in many senses.

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