If you are new to developing for the web, then this section is for you. It can sometimes feel like there are many moving parts in a large web development project, but they tend to follow a similar project flow, and understanding that at a high level will help you keep your bearings.
We begin with a conference call or a meeting to establish the scope of the project. Is it a total site redesign? A new module to extend a site? A new arm to an existing site structure? We hammer out the details of the work that needs to happen. From this discussion we have the information we need to draw up a Statement of Work, which outlines everything we intend to build, what is “in scope” for the project. We establish the pricing for the project, a timeline, and all deliverables.
Content + Strategy
Content is king. We encourage all clients to start with content first, and get the writing for the new site done (generally in Word) before we start designing and building the site. Your content will inform the site map and architecture, and will help you bubble up what is most important.
We are also eager to discuss your strategy and market research, and encourage you to bring key messages and position, target audience, favorite/least favorite sites in your competitive landscape, and other research to discuss with us and our design partner as we're kicking off the project.
It's easy to fall into the trap of creating a site map and then scrambling to fill buckets with content once the site is done, but the best sites begin with planning and writing. You are investing time and budget in your site, and it should meet your needs— you shouldn't have to retrofit later.
Design + Content
For new sites, a design phase will begin, during which the look and feel of the new site is established. This can include wireframing, creating the user experience (UX) and site flow. If you create the content first, it informs the design and may be revised as design ideas surface and presentation is decided. Your design firm is your primary partner during this phase, but we work closely with the designer to provide feedback on the feasibility and cost of planned features.
The design phase is an iterative process that usually lasts 4-8 weeks, and the deliverable is a series of “comps” and review sessions with the graphic designer. Typically the home page and overall site “chrome” is decided first, and then the interior sections are designed that build on that work. The final deliverable is usually a set of layered photoshop files ready to be developed.
Development + Content Implementation
This is where Bear Group hits full stride. We will have a technical PM assigned to your project who will communicate with you throughout the process and coordinate the efforts of the development team. We start projects by getting a development and staging server (environment) in place. You will have access to this URL so you can watch the site take shape.
The technical PM will break the work down into tasks, and set up several sprints (two-week development cycles) for the developers. At the end of each two-week cycle there is completed work to review and move along to QA. With all assets in hand, an environment to work in, and a set of discrete tasks, the engineering team then sets to work coding the project to plan.
As the CMS components are installed and configured, we typically begin the content management work, getting all menus into place and adding content to pages.
QA, Final Review, Training
This phase is similar to a “beta” release in software development. After detailed QA, we will have an official review with the design firm and the client. You will have seen the work in stages during sprint reviews, and will have been able to watch progress on a daily basis on the staging URL, but at this point we go through each aspect of the work in detail.
Around this time we also generate custom documentation on how to use site features, and we begin training you to use your new site. We provide Editor/Admin logins so you can dive in and get to work in the site.
After final reviews and client sign-off, we’ll pick a day for the go-live event. This can involve a DNS change, a push of code from stage to live, or simply taking the site out of maintenance mode. Launches are quick and easy, and usually very quiet (unless you decide to celebrate!).
We set up Google Analytics so you can monitor real-time traffic and your site's performance on the internet.
Our relationships with clients are long-standing. After a site goes live, we provide many ways to access help, including email, an online ticket system, phone, and IM. We are always available for questions, and provide hourly support for clients.
For clients, this is when online marketing should kick into full gear. You have built it, so now get them to come— there are dozens of marketing strategies and thousands of opportunities to help promote your site and drive traffic, conversion, and leads or sales. While we don’t offer online marketing services, we do keep up to date on what people are trying and what's working, and we have successfully run many marketing campaigns based on SEO and SEM strategies. We can offer some advice and help you find the most relevant resources for your business, whether in self-guided education or expert agencies.