How We Work
Web development projects are complex, but they tend to follow a similar flow. We are here to help from start to finish–whether it’s recommending expert resources, advising on functionality and technical feasibility or simply explaining things in a way that’s easy to understand.
Here’s what to expect, and how we fit into the website development process.
Custom Web Development: Project Scoping & Development Strategy
We start with a meeting or conference call to discuss the project scope. Is it a total redesign? A new module to extend a website?A new arm for an existing website structure? We hammer out the details so we can draw up a Statement of Work, which outlines the full project scope including pricing, timeline, and deliverables.
Understanding your brand position, key messages, target audience, and competitive landscape will help your web development project go smoothly. We’ll spend time with you to fully understand your brand and your goals, discuss any market research you have done, and review things you like and don’t like about competitors’ sites to lay the foundation for a strong collaboration. We can also recommend resources to help bring your brand into focus before you kick off web development.
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 websites begin with a clear content strategy and content writing. Your content will inform the site map and architecture, and will help you bubble up what is most important. Again, we can recommend content resources if you need them.
Building Your Custom Website
This is where Bear Group hits full stride. We’ll assign a technical PM to communicate with you throughout the process and coordinate the development team. We’ll put a development and staging server (environment) in place so you can watch the website take shape.
The technical PM will break the work down into tasks, and set up several sprints (2-week development cycles). The engineering team then sets to work coding the project to plan. At the end of each sprint, there will be completed work to review and move along to QA.
As the content management system (CMS) components are installed and configured, we typically begin the content management work, getting all menus into place and adding content to pages.
Custom Web Development: Website Design & Wireframing
For new websites, the design phase will establish the look and feel of the new website. This can include wireframing, creating the user experience (UX), and determining website user flow. Your website content informs the design and may be revised as new design ideas surface. Your design firm is your primary partner during this iterative phase, but we work closely with the designer to provide feedback on the feasibility and cost of planned features.
What to Expect From Your Web Development Team
“I always feel like they are listening to any issues we may have, taking the time to understand our thoughts before just jumping straight to a solution. I also love that they have valuable feedback on both technical and aesthetic subjects.”
Quality Assurance, Review, and CMS Training
This phase is similar to a “beta” release in software development. After detailed quality assurance (QA), we’ll 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 server, but at this point we go through each aspect of the work in detail.
Around this time, we generate documentation for you on how to use website features, and we begin training you to use your new website. We’ll provide Editor/Admin logins so you can dive in and get to work.
Custom Web Development: Website Launch
After final reviews and client sign-off, we’ll pick a day for the go-live event. This can involve a Domain Name System (DNS) change, pushing code from the staging server to the live environment, or simply taking the site out of maintenance mode. Launches are quick and easy and are 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.
Custom Web Development: Ongoing Support
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 we 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 advice and help you find the most relevant resources for your business, whether in self-guided education or expert agencies.