OVERVIEW - Communicating your message requires skills in many areas. One important lesson we’ve learned in the past several years in business is that a successful project requires a well-defined plan (blueprints) before construction begins. Up-front planning (“measure twice – cut once”) always saves time, money & frustration. This has proven true for large database projects as well as smaller web design & development projects. Some of the following questions should help to define expectations, giving us the spec’s necessary to estimate the corresponding time & cost required. Also making sure everyone’s on the same page while successfully completing the project on-time and on-budget.
CONCEPTS & PLANNING - “A problem well-defined is nearly solved” – so begin with the end in mind! Creating a clear plan is important for every successful web project: identifying goals, the scope & success criteria. Have you created a sitemap (an outline) for your new website yet? Will we need to create it? Do you have a detailed plan or do you need help developing one?
What’s your compelling “call-to-action” i.e. what action should your audience take after viewing your site. Do you already have a good, short tag-line & welcome blurb? What makes your business unique? Can you describe your target audience(s)? What’s driving traffic to this site? online/offline?
The amount of time required for concept & planning meetings always factors into the overall cost & success of the finished product. It’s important to know how many people are on your planning & decision making team. Are they all on the same page? Has a project timeframe (start & end dates) already been determined?
IMAGERY & COPYWRITING - On the web, people “scan” more than they read. ”Don’t make me think” is an unspoken goal (it’s true!). Web pages should be self-evident, obvious, and self-explanatory. What is your website about? What are the core “hooking” messages? Is your content condensed for the web? Remove everything non-essential. (“less is more”). Pages should be divided up into clearly defined areas. Will you need help re-organizing your site content?
Do you give visitors a reason to come back? Is the text on your site captivating as well as ‘to the point?’ The quality of the content on your website often determines how long your audience remains interested in your message, products, or information. Carefully-crafted, quality content improves search engine (SEO) rankings.
Do you already have professional images & an identity package? Will you need help selecting & purchasing stock photography? The cost of quality images and professionally written copy can certainly be a factor, but investing in these assets greatly increases the positive impact on your audience and the overall success & professionalism of your site. Your photography should match the ‘over-arching concept’ that drives your message, website & marketing.
GRAPHIC DESIGN - Design is one of the most important factors influencing cost, timelines & the quality of the finished product. Every design is different, but most quality projects require at least 20 hours of design. Do you need several rounds of revisions to get that exact look you want? Do you need a logo?
DEVELOPMENT - Development is the process of transforming the finalized web design & site-map into a fully functional site. This involves building a solid foundation with programming using HTML, CSS, AJAX, Flash, Databases, PHP, etc… Make sure your web partner can bridge both sides of the brain: code and design. (Function and form) The next step is placing content into the content management system (CMS) & optimizing graphics for the web. Solid code takes time. Of course, the more pages you need & the larger the project scope, the longer the development time.
EXTRAS, ADD-ONS AND INCREASED FUNCTIONALITY - When it comes to the web, almost anything is possible. Some options to consider are sophisticated CMS, mobile versions & responsive design , motion graphics, shopping carts, e-commerce, customizable forms with business rules & validation, database-driven web applications, payment gateways, EDI, email marketing, social media, dynamic Flash/JS interactivity. what operating systems, browsers and browser versions are we targeting? Do we care about IE6 or other older browsers, are there additional considerations such as printer-friendly versions, ADA-compliance, or other that we need to be aware of?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SOCIAL MEDIA AND MAINTENANCE - Is your site at the top of search engine results? Need tools to measure & tweak your site’s successfulness? Missing out on potential customers? What keywords would you like for people to find you? Want your site to appear before the competition?
SET UP & TESTING - Placement of the final website on a hosting server of your choice & testing, to ensure everything is operating as defined, is the final step in production. Every project requires some amount of time for set-up, testing & debugging. Costs associated with set-up & testing are influenced by the complexity & amount of requested changes to your project.
FULL SERVICE RETAINER - Center Mass Media offers a turnkey alternative the the basic pay per project way of business. We offer packages that include everything you would expect from an internal marketing department without the overhead. Ask us how we can help you to achieve your business goals.