The Internet is an ever-evolving medium with new innovations cropping up every day, leaving yesterday’s technology to become old news. This makes website building a tricky business, with brands, designers and builders needing to stay on top of what’s new, what’s coming and how best to implement it all. However, all of the new tech in the world won’t save a website without a solid foundation and good communication between everyone involved in the initial website-building process. Oxford’s Interactive team came up with and follows five core concepts for seamless website creation that stand the test of time:
The first step is defining the “Whats” and “Whys” of the proposed website – “What are your business goals?” “Why are users visiting your site, and what are you hoping they take away from it?” We administer a questionnaire diving into the deeper questions of site form, function and intended purpose – the answers inform all actions moving forward.
Key players from every department weigh-in in order to voice their opinions or ask any further questions now instead of later in order to better serve the client through the process. Bad communication from the start can often be the culprit for mistakes and unnecessary extra work later on, so from the beginning, we keep all lines of communication free and flowing between us and our clients to avoid problems down the line. By asking questions, gathering details and involving the Oxford experts early on, a comprehensive Scope of Work is produced then followed and easily referenced throughout the process.
Once the initial questions of purpose are answered, the skeleton of the site starts to take shape. Here, many actions take place at once. There cannot be a, “What came first: the chicken or the egg?” situation when it comes to site building – content and design need to work in tandem to build a solid structure. Content – meaning images, copy, icons, etc. – is considered and planned for at this stage (for a website redesign, existing content is audited and decided on what stays and what is removed); in-house designers work alongside account executives and copywriters to inform space capacities, placement, etc.; and the interactive department creates a site map to show what pages go where and how navigation works to ensure an effective user experience. These side-by-side efforts result in concepts informed by agency-wide collaboration.
With the content, design and structure in place, concepts are provided to the client for feedback. At this point, function and layout is known so, once approved, step 3 is all about defining the little, but no less important, touches. This includes color palates, font, text color, individual element aesthetics, etc., being careful to stay within the original Scope of Work when administering these site features. Minor changes to the original plan in this respect can be made, but it’s much too easy to let small tweaks snowball into big, hard-to-make deviations – it’s better to stay the course than revise the mission late in the game.
All the colors have been picked; all the pages are in order; all the copy has been written and the pictures have been chosen. We triple-check that every piece and detail is as it should be, then put all the information together and send it off to an outside developer to be assembled. Once it comes back, a fine-toothed comb is taken to the site by all involved to find any problems that may have occurred between concept and development – does every page navigate correctly … is every image in the right spot … how does it look on a smartphone? We think of then test any and all variables that may not have arose before, then send feedback back to the developer … repeat until perfection.
Once testing is complete, we launch the site … then go through and test again. Some quality assurance testing can’t be conducted before the site is live – SEO, for example – so another thorough assessment needs to happen before the site is delivered. After the second round of testing is complete, the website is released along with a hand-off packet of everything the client needs to know in order to maintain their shiny new website, including CMS training, how to track Google analytics, style guide, etc.
To see some examples of Oxford’s interactive projects, click here.