DSI has been in the web design business for over 15 years. Check out our historic articles published during the early days of the web:
How to Cause a Website to Appear
The process of website development will be outlined here based upon my own experience. The client may choose to undertake the entire process themselves, or delegate portions of the project to service providers as they see fit.
The Time/Effort/Money Continuum
There exists between the client and the service provider, a variable relationship which I refer to as the "time/effort/money continuum".
On one end of this scale, is the individual who has no money and lots of time, this person will most likely take an extended period of time to figure out how to accomplish something, and may possibly never get it fully solved.
On the other end of the continuum is the individual who has lots of money and very little time to devote to the project. The key to rapid success for this person is well directed delegation of the various essential components of web design.
Each client needs to determine their own position on this continuum and then proceed accordingly.
Defining the Vision for the Website
The client has the option to hire an internet developer who will manage the entire process of defining and building the website. This would include an initial meeting between a project manager and the client, consisting of a discussion of the client's vision for the project as well as the availability of source materials.
The project manager would create the website flow diagram as follows:
Draw a simple flow diagram starting with a box on the upper left hand corner of the page defining what the client wants to present on the opening or "index" page. List links on the index page and draw lines to other boxes that define sub pages. These boxes would contain key points to be covered in the text of the web page, as well as descriptions of graphics and other media that support the text content. This process will clearly indicate to the developer what you want to accomplish from an informational standpoint. The document may be FAXed or emailed to the developer.
Acquiring and Delivering Source Materials
Arrangements would also be made to acquire high quality source materials. These materials would be clear and detailed as well as being accurate representations of the client's over all vision. Source materials typically consist of text and graphics as well as audio and video content as appropriate.
The developer has the option to hire a professional journalist who has experience writing in the client's subject area. The journalist would visit and interview the client, generating a textual presentation, documenting the client's ideas and specifics. This text would be reviewed and edited by the client until satisfaction is achieved. The client may instead choose to do their own write-up. The completed text material needs to be delivered electronically to the developer via email. FAXing the document is not an efficient means of delivery.
The developer has the option to hire a professional photographer to document the client's ideas visually. Photos should be taken of the client's merchandise or other items to be promoted. In the case of photographing a location such as a vacation rental, it is often a good idea to photograph the client and their family as well in order to make a more personal connection with the website browser. Photos should also be taken of items and scenes that the client finds especially appealing. This gives the developer raw materials with which to generate graphic textures that will be pleasing to the client.
Photos may be taken with a digital camera as long as the resulting image resolution is adequate for the client's needs. Otherwise, it's best to use a good quality 35mm camera and develop to CD-ROM. The development can be done for about $1 per photo at DiscMakers in Honolulu. The next preferred method would be to scan prints or slides into a computer. Scanning services can be provided by the developer. It is not a good idea to have the developer scan printed brochures as the images are made from small dots and will not scan clearly.
If the client is doing their own scanning, general guidelines call for scanning standard 35mm prints at 144 dpi, saving as JPG and emailing to the developer. This specification usually gives the developer some flexibility as far as cropping and resizing the image for optimum presentation.
Spoken or musical material may be sampled from tape or CD by the developer and presented on the website via the RealAudio streaming media technology. The client may choose to have a preferred piece of music interpreted by the developer as an original MIDI arrangement. MIDI saves a lot of bandwidth by not carrying actual sound waves but by issuing direct commands to the browser's computer sound hardware.
If the client has video material available, portions of this can be sampled by the developer and presented on the website via QuickTime movies or animated GIFs. Presenting sound and video on the internet slows down the delivery of relevant content and needs to be carefully considered in this day of analog modems stuffing data through voice lines.
Development and Review
When the developer has received the website flowchart as well as the source materials and general instructions, development can begin. Within an appropriate interval, the first draft of the website will be available for review.
This delivery of the first draft is the most significant time for the project manager and the client to have another meeting. The client should review the entire site and take the time to give as much feedback as possible. This process can be facilitated by the project manager who will elicit and organize the client's feedback and direction of further development.
At this stage in the project, the website should be well underway towards communicating the client's message via the internet. Further cycles of development and feedback should result in the client's satisfaction.