Web ReDesign: Workflow That Works
The Phases of Development
The chapter entitled “One Process Fits All” begins with an illustrative flow chart that breaks down each of the five phases:
- Defining the Project
- Developing the Site Structure
- Visual Design and Testing
- Production and QA
- Launch and Beyond
The rest of this introductory chapter is devoted to a short summary of each phase, with the following chapters developing each phase in greater detail. Every chapter begins with a helpful chart entitled “What This Chapter Covers” and ends with a succinct summary, reinforcing concepts the way any good teacher would.
Read also: 5 Principles of Design
The first phase consists mostly of gathering and analyzing information about the goals and aims of the project, and then doing the budgeting and planning. The authors break this phase into three sub-tasks: Discovery, Clarification, and Planning.
Phase Two is where the hands-on work begins. This phase is also has three sections, though in this case each of those sections addresses Phase Two according to the objectives of the project.
Content View involves defining content. In a redesign, there are relevant issues surrounding pre-existing content. Should it be used simply because it’s available? Will it need to be updated or edited?
In an initial design, the content must actually be produced. Site View is concerned with overall site structure and defining the relationships between individual pages.
Page View addresses topics like navigation and the labelling of icons and buttons.
Phase Three is concerned with the actual visual design, the look and feel of the site. This is where the creative work begins. Three sub-tasks are defined here as well: Creating, Confirming, and Handing Off. Concepts are developed and refined in the first, a protosite is developed and tested in the second, and finally, graphic templates are created for handoff to the team (or individual) doing the actual HTML production.
The fourth phase is where the bulk of the production work and QA testing occur. Again, it is helpfully broken down into three smaller pieces: Prepping, Building, and Testing.
Prepping involves establishing guidelines, doing a budget and overall project status report, and setting rules for things like directory structures and file naming conventions.
Building is the described as heart of the whole process – which won’t come as a surprise – and is where the bulk of the work of actually building pages, optimizing images, and implementing scripting and other functionality will occur.
Testing, obviously, is where all the QA issues will crop up. The authors emphasize the importance of developing a QA plan which will cover all potential issues. This sub-phase also includes all the fixes for potential bugs and usability issues.
After this, the book discusses Phase Five, which is concerned with the site actually going live. The three sub-phases are Delivery, Launch, and Maintenance.
Delivery – actually handing over all the files and documentation to the client – is an important milestone in the project, and the authors recommend holding a “post-mortem” meeting around this handoff. It is also important to schedule some training for the maintenance team.
The actual Launch is a very small part of the overall time line, but it is important to adequately prepare the site’s audience for the event by communicating clearly with the marketing department so that announcements can be made. It’s also important to make sure the site is submitted to the major search engines, even in the case of a redesign.
Read also: Visual Architecture: The Rule of Three
Maintenance is an essential component of the site’s success, and the authors recommend that the maintenance team be up to the task. An assessment of their capabilities should be completed and any shortcomings be addressed. A detailed maintenance plan should also be in place by this time. If the site has been redesigned, it is useful to have some apparatus in place to measure the new design’s effectiveness. Reporting these results is the responsibility of the maintenance team.