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Everybody wants a top-of-the line website. Sleek design, killer content – everything your customer needs to learn about your product and sign on the dotted line.
But how do you get there?
Below are Oodle’s eight steps for every website project. If you follow them – all of them, no skipping – you can build the website you want and your company needs.
Step 1: Discovery and onboarding
This is where everyone involved in the project aligns on the objectives and scope. You’ll ask deep questions about your goals and figure out exactly what you’re going to accomplish.
You might realize during this step there are specific experts in your company who will need to produce content for the new site. You can start prepping them for that now.
You might find hidden portals or integrations – anything that wasn’t accounted for initially.
People always want to skip step one and jump straight to design, but this is your foundation. Steps two through eight build on this discovery and onboarding process, so it’s really important to get it right.
Step 2: Site content and architecture
This is where you establish the content hierarchy for your entire website. You’ll look at page and URL structures and how content nests in the site. This is a critical step, especially when it comes to ongoing SEO work, so don’t skip it.
You’ll build your sitemap at this stage, and you’ll also do a content-gap analysis, looking at all your content and deciding what you need to keep, what you need to cut, what you need to combine and what you need to create. It’s important to do this gap analysis now so any content creation needs can run concurrently with the rest of the work on the site.
Step 3: Site design and user experience
Finally, we get to design. People tend to think of this step as the beginning of a website project, but it’s so important to complete steps one and two first to lay the groundwork.
Traditionally, this step would have involved wireframes. Nowadays, it’s much more likely to include either page templates or a component library, depending on how your design team works.
Step 4: Content curation (and/or creation)
In step two, we took inventory (remember: keep, cut, combine, create). Now in step four, we go and gather all that content.
Step 5: Development
This can be the most unnerving step for many marketers, because it’s where the development team tends to go dark. They’re taking everything gathered in steps one through four, and they’re going off to write the code.
We understand the temptation to go dark here, but we’ve found it’s very important to keep open communication even during the development phase.
For our clients, we do bi-weekly reviews and progress updates, keeping everyone in the loop and making sure we’re all on the same page.
Step 6: Content implementation
This step has the potential to get messy, especially if there wasn’t proper planning on the front end. This is the step where a developer might look at you and say, “You promised what? No, we can’t migrate 1,000 pages like that. It’s not possible.”
Chances are, if you’re doing a full website rebuild, there’s a good amount of content that will have to be entered by hand. So it’s imperative to plan for that upfront and figure out who is responsible for taking that on.
Step 7: Testing and review
Do not skip this step.
Repeat: DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.
You need to take your requirements list and go through each one, point by point. Ideally, you should have multiple people doing testing and review, using different devices and different browsers and taking notes on their experiences.
It can be tempting to skip this step and jump right to launch, but the review process is so important. Trust us, you will find problems. And you’ll be glad you took the time to correct them before you published.
Step 8: Deployment
It’s time to “hit the button” and go live.
Now, it’s on to the never-ending work of maintaining your site…