AOR’s Approach to Website Development and Maintenance, and Why It Works.
Congratulations! At this point, you’re here because you’ve decided to either re-design or develop a brand new website for your company. Quite the undertaking, we know! The question now is, how are you going to accomplish your website development goals? Are you going to turn to in-house developers, use a freelancer, or go the agency route, maybe even choosing to partner with AOR?
We’ve certainly put in our 15,000 hours when it comes to website development, in fact, it’s been more like 15 years. 15 years of WordPress knowledge, 15 years of working on our processes, and 15 years of products that meet the needs of our clients, all while keeping up with new technologies and algorithms and providing the best possible experience to both website owners and users. Suffice to say, we have experience. Through that we’ve been able to cull our process down to five simple phases:
Step by step, these phases allow us to give equal attention to all facets of the website; user interface (UI), user experience (UX), search engine optimization (SEO), health and performance, security, and accessibility.
The rest of this insight will help you better understand the five phases, what they are, and why they are important in the development of your new website, no matter how you go about your project. In fact, let us make this even easier for you — think of your website development project as similar to the process of building a new home. A solid foundation and detailed framework are imperative for the success and efficiency of the build, so we’ll always start with research and strategy.
Phase 1: Research & Strategy
First, we lay the foundation. When you come to us with dreams and goals for your new website, we start by understanding who you are and what your current website (if you have one) is already doing for you (this involves reviewing current key data points regarding user traffic patterns, SEO, and all KPIs), as well as where there are opportunities for improvement. This helps us determine the amount of work we have ahead of us (like determining how many bedrooms and bathrooms your home might have) and really lay the foundation for the success of the project. We, as a team, collaborate with you to determine how the aid of a website can help you best accomplish your business goals.
What information will your target audience be looking for on your site?
These kinds of questions will help determine the ways in which your website will attract your ideal target audience.
After connecting with you and developing a solid foundation with a sitemap and content map, our team of development, UX, content, and SEO experts plan out the framework. They do this by sketching out UI elements for the site, mapping out the content, and beginning to brainstorm how your website will flow and drive conversions. These sketches are referred to as wireframes and are our way of helping you start to understand how the website will look when it all comes together. Developing these key deliverables will ensure we all remain focused on the same goals, that we nail the information architecture before development, and that we continue to foster a strong client-agency relationship as we collaborate on the work.
Phase 2: Design & Content
The foundation was successfully poured, so now it’s time to decide what color the walls should be, and what type of granite countertop will work well in the kitchen. In other words, it’s time for the fun part! While functionality and ease of information intake are so important in website development, the look and feel can make a huge difference in the success of the site. It takes users less than 1 second to form an opinion about a website, so first impressions are crucial. Because of this, the design of your site is often the first thing people notice and can play a primary role in whether or not the user sticks around for more (and we definitely want them to stick around!).
In this stage, we take the sitemap, content map, and wireframes we created in Phase 1, and marry them with your brand aesthetic in order to create a site that expresses who you are. We deliver all the necessary UI components of a website—layout, design, content—to make your brand stand out amongst the others in your industry.
Our collaboration with you and our collective brainstorming will greatly impact the success of your completed website, so communication is crucial! One way we are able to promote idea exchange is through digital vision boards. These vision boards give you a glimpse into how the rest of the site will look and read. They are created with your current brand in mind, while also allowing our team of UX designers and branding experts to reimagine how your brand should translate onto your digital footprint. The boards include an exploration of how images, patterns, content, and colors come to life on your new website. Once we’ve agreed upon a direction, we then develop full-page designs for both desktop and mobile. Now is the time for you to provide input and give us feedback before finalizing the design asset package, a.k.a page builder, and moving on to development.
Phase 3: Development
After detailed planning of all included functionality, content, and design direction, AOR will get to work on the development of your website. In other words, this phase is when our developers put up the walls and secure the roof of your site — meticulously creating a website that is unique to you, and only you. Although web design is important for making the first impression, we’ve built our web development process to ensure our users will find what they are looking for and enjoy the time they spend scrolling.
WordPress is our Content Management System (CMS) of choice. We’ve spent the last 15 years becoming experts in the software — a software tool that is extremely easy to use, saves time in the development process, and is highly customizable. In fact, because of the flexibility of WordPress, our in-house developers have the ability to create beautifully crafted, completely unique websites that accomplish your business goals as well as keep your users engaged (I know … it sounds too good to be true, but it is!). Part of this involves laying out any additional modules that will be used on the site. This collection of modules is what we call the “Page Builder” — components that can be dragged and dropped into different areas of the site to create dynamic, custom, and scalable layouts.
We then follow a robust development schedule to ensure that all parts of the framework and design are included and well-tested in the final product. This stage of the process turns static design files and vision boards into a fully realized website you can actually interact with. At this stage, our team will perform extensive testing against industry standards in SEO, usability, and accessibility, in order to fine-tune the success of your website.
AOR has your best interest in mind and we work tirelessly to ensure that all of the expectations you have for your site are met. In fact, we spend a good portion of this time using real people to test the UX/UI, SEO, and accessibility of the site as well as ensuring that we’ve completed our pre-launch checklist, that way we know your website is ready for the world to see.
Phase 4: Launch & Training
Now for the most exciting part … launching your site! After our team has reviewed the site, it has passed all necessary tests, and you as our client have reviewed and approved, we are able to officially launch. Once you’ve moved in and your site becomes your home, we complete our post-launch checklist to ensure that everything is working properly and going according to plan. We realize that a big, new website like this can be overwhelming and you may not know how to move forward managing it. Don’t worry, it is part of our 5 step process to make sure that you and your staff have the proper training necessary to be able to update your site successfully.
Phase 5: Maintenance & Optimizations
A developed website is only as successful as its long-term health and care. The same premeditated care you would put into the home you built is important for website maintenance. In the time following launch, we implement a customized monthly maintenance plan to ensure all the components of your site are working and to help anticipate any future issues. These plans come in all shapes and sizes and can be tailored to include anything from general maintenance, and SEO, to custom reporting dashboards that help your team monitor key metrics and implement marketing strategies based on real data. This monthly fine-tuning ensures an optimal user experience, enhanced performance, and the continued bug-free success of your company’s website.
There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to web development. We at AOR put time, strategy, and heart into the web work that we do—and we are so proud of it. Our web design and development solutions play a huge role in the first impressions and lasting brand impact that your company can have on your audience. Your website should set you apart, make lasting impressions on intended users, drive conversions, and feel like home — we can make that happen, in fact, we’d love to make that happen.
As always, AOR is here to help if you have web development and design needs and decide to go the agency route. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions, we love talking shop.
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