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The Process

In our experience, many people who want a Web site don't really know where to start when it comes time to design and develop one. Our process incorporates the principles of our Design Philosophy.

Obviously, hiring a designer who has a good grasp of Web design principles and is knowledgeable about Web standards is a great place to start, but there's quite a bit more to it than that. A great designer/developer will need and want your input and participation in the process from beginning to end, starting with an initial consultation to discover and define your needs and goals. It is YOUR Web site, after all, and a great Web designer will want to make sure you get the site you both want and need!

Before any design work is done we begin our own process of research. Many design companies will skip this step, rushing to get the project completed. Although this can still potentially result in an attractive website for your company, it will not result in the most effective website for your company.

We'll research your company, clients, local and national competition, target market or industry, and probable audience. We will scour all resources to learn as much as possible about your market and goals in order to develop the most appropriate site for you.

As part of the design process, graphic mock-ups of the website will be designed for review and approval. Once approved, the actual website pages will be designed based on the graphic mock-ups.

You can be assured that your website will be designed utilizing the latest technology. Our use of HTML for content, Cascading Style Sheets for presentation, JavaScript and PHP programming, and MySQL for database design ensures that your website operates cleanly, loads fast, and is fully functional on all modern browsers. Additionally, our design methodology of separating website content, presentation, and behavior allows most changes to your website to be accomplished quickly and easily.

Below is a primer of sorts on the Web Design process with Custom Design Software. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. We'll be glad to answer your questions as best we can!
Phase One - Consultation
Here at Custom Design Software, we like to get our horse before our cart it works much better that way!

The first thing we like to do is meet with clients to discuss their Web design project and determine what their needs are. This can be a face-to-face meeting or one held over the telephone if that works out best! Our goals for this initial consultation are:
  • To discuss and outline the needs of your site, gathering basic information about your products and services, defining who your target audience is, the purpose of your site, your site goals, etc. We'll determine how many pages you want in your site, what those pages will be, and learn any ideas you might have about how you want your site to function and look.
  • To provide you with a no-obligation quote on your project.

About Estimates, Quotes and Proposals

Our quote is basically a "soft" proposal, or an outline of the work that needs to be done and the costs associated with fulfilling those needs. To arrive at a quote or "soft" proposal, we evaluate the work involved, as well as the complexity of that work and the time it will take to complete it.

If you are agreeable with the "soft" proposal, within a few days, we will provide you a formal proposal that requires a signature, as well as a terms and agreement form that also will need to be signed. The terms and agreement form is for YOUR benefit and ours, so that we work together to complete your project in a timely and satisfactory manner. We will gladly answer any and all questions regarding our terms and agreement form prior to your signing it, so please feel free to ask.

After a formal proposal has been signed and returned to us, any "after thought" additions or enhancements will be added to the agreed-upon cost of the original formal proposal. Our quotes are valid for 30 days.

Phase Two: Design & Development
Once we have a signed proposal, we'll get the design and development process underway!

We realize that this is a very technical process filled with jargon that likely makes no sense to many people, so we urge you to let us know if you have any questions or are confused at any point during the production of your project. Miscommunication and misunderstandings will impede the timely production of your site, and none of us wants that!

TESTING and DEBUGGING

While your site is being developed, we will host it at a temporary location for your online review. After you have reviewed the website, and everything is in correct order, we will thoroughly review the site ourselves. We will check website load time, browser testing, resolution testing and the overall performance of your site.

Before We Begin ... Buy Your Domain Name!

This is the first thing you should do, even before you see a single layout sample or submit a bit of content! Domain names go like hot cakes, so you need to figure out what you want yours to be and buy it!

    Step One: Content Submission
    Your participation in the content-gathering phase of your Web site project is vital to it being produced in a timely manner. We need to collect from you ALL content and materials we will need to design and build your site. Anything that you can provide us with to help us design your website. This includes, but is not limited to:
  • Logo files
  • Current and past brochures
  • Business cards
  • Text copy
  • Pictures / Images
Your text copy can come from any printed advertising materials you already have for your business or organization, or it may be something you've written up yourself or have had written specifically for your Web site. Pictures include those you wish to have included within the content areas of your site, as well as any you might want to appear in the unique page heading or design of your site.

To reduce costs and speed the process of building your site, we urge you to submit your materials in an electronic/digital format via CD or e-mail. We will return any discs you submit after the project is complete. Additional charges may apply for any text that must be typeset and pictures/images that have to be scanned, modified, or improved.

At this point, we will also discuss what needs you may have for your administration pages, if necessary. (Please refer to our special section at the end of our design process report for more information about our development of administration pages)

Step Two: Sample Layouts

Once we have the materials, we can begin providing you with sample layouts for you to critique and discuss!

We will provide an outline detailing the site architecture. This is a description of the navigation of the site. The primary goal is to let people browse your web site easily, without confusion. A successfully designed navigation scheme must transparently direct a user toward the site's intended objective.

Next we develop graphic elements for the site such as color palettes, fonts, graphic images/buttons/headlines, photos and illustrations, etc. We will determine an appropriate Graphical User Interface (GUI) utilizing all of these materials according to the nature of your business.

When all of these elements are decided upon, we will create a preliminary sample of the site design. The purpose of these samples is to narrow down exactly what you want your site to look like, so we definitely want your feedback! We will provide the samples in image or web page form by uploading the appropriate files and then provide you with a link so that you can view it in your Web browser. Interactivity will not be added until after a visual layout has been established and we have a signature of approval to proceed to the next step.

You will be asked to critique and discuss the mock up architecture and layout. We offer our clients unlimited design modifications at this stage at no additional cost. We'll go back and forth with drafts, fine-tuning the look and feel of the site until a design is established to be used for your website.

Step Three: Making It Interactive

Now that your site's visual layout has been decided, we'll start putting it into valid code.

In this step, we'll tackle another important aspect of your web site its information architecture, which is represented visually in the site navigation menu. It needs to be clear, concise and logical so that your visitors don't get lost on your site. In the initial consultation and quote phase of your site, we determined what pages you plan to have on your site. Now we'll work with you first hand to establish the structure of those pages within the architecture of your site and then deploy it in the form of an interactive menu of links, often times with a visual "rollover" effect.

As we're making your site interactive, we'll do the first of our cross-platform, cross-browser compatibility checks to make sure your site looks well in the major flavors of Web browsers. We'll work out any visual and code kinks in the main layout at this time.

Step Four: Content Preparation

Remember all the content materials that you provided back in Step One? Well, we're about to start working with those! At this stage, we'll be preparing the text, data and pictures for integration into your site pages.

Step Five: Content Integration

With all those images and text now ready, we're ready to start integrating them. We'll start with the Home page and seek your approval before moving on to the site's sub-pages.

Any special add-on features (image galleries, contact forms, etc.) will be added at this time as well.

Step Six: Debugging

After all your content and special add-on features are integrated, Custom Design Software begins the process of "debugging," which basically means we go through your site looking for any functionality problems or visual oddities. Then we'll fix them!

We'll also do the second of our cross-platform, cross-browser compatibility checks to make sure your site looks well in the major flavors of Web browsers.

Once we've done a debugging check, we'll post your site up to a space on our servers and you'll now have an opportunity to peruse the site, looking for any "bugs" we might have missed, and to assess if any changes need to be made to the content.

Step Seven: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

At Custom Design Software, we do not complete your website and then go back and sprinkle some keywords on top. Skilled web professionals know that to gain competitive search engine placement, Search Engine Optimization must be on your mind the entire web development process.

Throughout the steps above, we will employ several search engine optimization principles and techniques in respect to the site coding, structure and navigation. We undertake these steps FREE of charge, then, as a bonus, we'll tackle three other key parts of the SEO process:
  • Relevant Page Titles
  • Relevant Keywords & Keyword Phrases
  • Relevant Page Descriptions
To do this, we can work from the content you've provided us (without research), or you can pay for us to do keyword research, or, you're welcome to do your own research and write your own and we'll plug them in for you. The choice is yours!

Our Guarantee

Custom Design Software does not make grandiose claims or guarantees on our services, but we do promise to make your site as search engine friendly as we can through the following standards:
  • The inclusion of relevant page titles and meta tags (keywords/keyword phrases, and page descriptions)
  • Formatting your site with clean, valid code
  • Establishing an effective site structure that presents information in a logical, intuitive manner, and that is easily and quickly accessed by both search engines and human users

So What Does It Cost?

The initial, basic setup of meta tags and page titles is included at no extra charge on all sites that we design! Research and analysis are not included in the initial, basic setup. We work from client-provided content and any directions that may have been given by the client.

Phase Three: Going Live!
Here it is, the moment you've been waiting for your site published on the Web for the whole world to see! As soon as you give your final approval on the site (approval must be provided in writing), we'll publish it up to your hosted space on the World Wide Web and point your domain name to it!

Now you can now start promoting your site, by telling friends and business acquaintances, and making sure you add the Web address for your site to all your printed materials, such as business cards and letterheads!
Contact us today using the form to the left. We look forward to hearing from you!