Curious about how we work? Learn more about our approach.
Beginning a website project can feel overwhelming. At Alt Creative, we strive to make the process as smooth as possible by taking each phase step-by-step. Our process is comprehensive but designed to help you easily achieve your ultimate vision. To ensure you understand how we work and exactly what you can expect, let’s dive into the explanation of each of our process phases.
Project Evaluation + Discovery Phase
Before any site can begin, we need to learn about your business, your business goals, and how you envision your site helping to accomplish those goals. This is the stage where we determine the scope of the project, its requirements, and that Alt Creative is the right agency to deliver the desired results.
This phase begins with an initial consultation where we ask questions to determine what you’re looking for in terms of your site and site goals. Before this consultation, you will want to take some time to think about what you wish to accomplish with your new website. You should determine if you will need any special functionality or interactivity with your visitors and consider the type of design style which appeals to you.
In this consultation, we like to learn more about your business including things like:
- What your organization does and what makes it unique. What are you selling and/or what services do you provide?
- Who is your main audience? Who do you serve?
- Who are your competitors? What competitors are doing well online?
- What is your core message? What do you want your desired brand perception to be?
We’ll also gather specific information about the project such as:
- What is the purpose of the website we’re building? What do you want visitors to do once they visit?
- What type of content or functionality should the website have?
- What is your budget/timeframe?
- Do you have any written content, images, or videos ready? Do you have a domain, web hosting, etc?
- Do you need help writing/gathering your content?
After the initial consultation, we may ask you to do some further exploration into your vision. This might include evaluating some of your competitors’ online strategies, compiling a list of websites (both related to and not related to your industry) that you like, and think are effective, or considering certain third-party functionality.
There is a possibility that a more in-depth project discovery beyond just an initial consultation may need to be done to fully scope out your website project. We can determine a plan for a deeper dive which may include more consultations and research. We offer New Website Discover Consultation sessions for a small charge.
Project Proposal + Agreement
Once we have a good handle on what your project requires, we will provide you with a formal proposal for the project. The proposal will outline the project requirements as well as the range for cost and timeframe. The proposal will also include information about the basic terms of the contract agreement. Questions regarding the proposal can be sent via email or we can schedule a time to discuss via phone/screenshare.
Upon consensus on project details, timeline, and price, we will prepare a contract agreement for you to review and sign. We will also send an invoice for the project deposit. Once we have received your deposit and signed contract, we will provide you with a copy of the fully executed contract, a receipt for your deposit, and we will schedule the initial project kick-off call that serves as the official project start date. All projects are scheduled on a “first come, first served” basis.
DELIVERABLES: MILESTONE DATES & KICK-OFF CALL NOTES
Each project begins with a project kick-off call. In this call we will revisit the project requirements and goals to ensure we are all on the same page and plan for any additional scope needs. We’ll also present you with a list of milestone dates to help us stay on track with project timeframe. These milestones are meant to be fluid, meaning they can change if they need to (and they likely will), but their purpose is to be a touchstone so we can adequately schedule tasks and hit your desired launch date.
If a kick-off call cannot be conducted for some reason, we will email you the milestone dates and list of items needed to help us gather the assets we need to begin the project.
Gathering Assets and Creating Content
CLIENT RESPONSIBILITY: Send written content (if applicable), logo/images, style guides, and/or any additional assets from client
DELIVERABLES: Google Doc of website content (if in scope)
Before beginning any design or development, we’ll need to gather the assets required for the project. Our approach to web design is driven by your content, messaging, and goals. That means, we start with your content and design for it rather than creating a design for you to fill in with meaningless copy.
We can create beautiful graphics and page layouts, but if they aren’t serving your marketing message and website goals, then they are useless. The approach of designing first and plugging in content often results in multiple failed iterations.
So how do you create and organize your website content? We can collaborate with you to create it, or you can create it on your own with our guidance. During the project discovery phase, we will have discussed your content creation strategy.
Many clients opt to tackle this step themselves or to pull written content from other sources (such as an old website, previously created print materials, or through an in-house marketing writer). If you and your team have decided to write the content yourselves, we highly recommend checking out our e-book, The Website Content Workbook, to help guide you on how to produce effective website content and to make sure you have included web-specific things like headers and keywords.
If it was decided that Alt Creative will be writing your content for you, then we will begin a series of interviews with you and your team to begin creating the written content. This content will be delivered via Google Docs for you to review and give feedback.
Images + Video
Websites usually need more than just written content to be effective. In addition to your marketing message, visuals like photos, video, icons, and illustrations can help give subtle cues that reinforce your message and delight your site visitors. We’ll help you source some of these materials through stock photography sites or by creating custom graphics where applicable. However, any multimedia content you already have will be useful to us in the design process, so we ask that you send those over along with your written content. Additionally, we will need you to send us any images that cannot be procured from stock such as your logo, team headshots, office building, portfolio images, etc.
Beyond written content and images, you will want to consider the content necessary for any interactive functionality. For example: form fields for contact forms, copy for custom graphics, Q+As for interactive quizzes, etc.
Design Planning Phase
CLIENT RESPONSIBILITY: Feedback and approvals
DELIVERABLES: Wireframes, mood board or global style (if applicable)
The design planning phase begins once the project scope has been determined and content assets submitted. In this phase, we help you refine your navigation structure and prepare basic wireframes of how the pages will be structured. Wireframes are rough sketches to give you an idea of how content can be laid out on the page. See an example here. These wireframes will be the main deliverable from this phase.
We will send you these wireframes to get your feedback on the site layout, help identify any potential content gaps, and see confirm that we are heading in the right direction with your site.
During this time, we’ll also pull together any stock photography or additional multimedia items that we expect to use in the next phase. We may also put together a mood board or web style guide with fonts, colors, button styles, and other global visual elements for the project.
This phase of the design will not include any high-fidelity mockups. This means you will not receive any renderings of what the site will look like. We no longer design websites within design software like Photoshop or Sketch. Instead, we use our robust WordPress theme (built on the Bootstrap framework), an extensive page builder plugin, and global CSS styles to create a working prototype of your site during the next phase.
DELIVERABLES: Development/Staging site link with pages
In this phase, we begin the work of developing the site and bringing the design vision to fruition. Development starts by setting up a development site (sometimes called a staging site) with a clean WordPress installation and key plugins. We will then configure the global style elements that we identified in the design planning phase.
The next step is to begin building the homepage based on the content and wireframes. This will be the first deliverable in this phase, and we will ask for your feedback on the Homepage before beginning the other site pages. This feedback will be incorporated in the design and structure of the subsequent pages. Once all the pages have been built, we will submit them to you for feedback before moving to the next phase.
Q&A + Final Touches
Once the page structure and design concepts are approved, we begin the Q&A phase. In this phase, we will be testing the site as a whole and making sure all links are working properly, finalizing any revisions, identifying any missing content, and test each page for browser and mobile compatibility. This will be your final opportunity to request changes, add to scope (which may incur additional fees), and address any issues before launch.
Site Launch + Training
It’s the day we’ve been waiting for — Launch Day! The exact process of launching your new site will depend on certain variables such as where you are hosting your site and where you domain settings are located. To launch your site, we will need full access to your web hosting control panel and possibly your domain’s DNS settings.
Launching your site will require some preparation and may take a few hours to complete. We usually begin by downloading all the site files from the development/staging site and exporting the WordPress database. From there, we will upload those files and import the database over to your web host. If your domain is not yet pointing to your hosting account, we will update your DNS settings for the site to be viewable via your domain address (URL).
We will then test the site and perform the tasks on our website launch checklist, which includes things like installing your analytics tracking, SSL certificate (if applicable), creating any necessary redirects, and generating your XML sitemap for the search engines.
After the site is launched, we will ask you to look at each page to make sure everything looks as it should. We’ll then send you any documentation, user logins, etc., that you will need to access and update your site. At this time, if you’d like to setup a training call to go over the basics of WordPress, we’d be happy to get that on the schedule.
Ongoing Support + Maintenance
There’s a common misconception that once you launch a new website, all the work is done. But just like any investment, peak performance requires consistent care. We offer monthly WordPress maintenance packages designed to keep your website up-to-date and secure while also to helping you navigate the road to website improvement. Our plans include proactive strategies like updating your WordPress software and plugins, site security hardening and security scanning, regular backups, and checking for broken links or missing content. Most of our plans also include monthly labor hours so you can send in requests for new functionality, content updates, consultations and more.
We’ll also send you a monthly report with information about what maintenance we performed and how your site is doing in regards to site speed and traffic.
Your website is one of the most important components of your digital marketing efforts. Regular WordPress maintenance ensures your site visitors have the best user experience while learning more about your business. Learn more about how we can support your site post-launch by visiting: https://proactivewp.com/