Architecture & Buildout
Once the foundation is complete we’re ready to plan and build the website together.
High-Level Web Strategy & Architecture
First we distill the strategic goals and audience research from the Discovery and Foundation phases into actionable strategy.
High-level web strategy should describe the experience we want each audience to have with the organization and help us prioritize our efforts to deliver that experience. We use various methods to do this depending on the project:
- Audience Personas help us focus on the needs and motivations of distinct audience segments.
- A creative brief or messaging strategy describes the creative approach and big ideas we want to convey.
- An experience map describes the total user journey beyond just the website.
- A gravity well shows how users can move into deeper levels of engagement.
- A visual site map shows entry points and user journeys through the site.
- Red routes describe the most important user journeys that must be clear and obvious.
- Success metrics define the outcomes by which we’ll evaluate our work.
Developing Interaction Concepts and Designs
By covering a lot of the basic needs of the website in the Foundation phase, we now have freedom and flexibility to explore innovative solutions based on your strategy. We involve you in this process as much as you are available, through workshops and iterative prototyping. Because we’ll already have a functioning design system we can prototype individual page layouts using your design patterns. This helps you see immediately what the page looks like rather than reviewing a black-and-white wireframe.
If NewCity isn’t handling the CMS integration, we will be limited somewhat by the integration team’s availability to integrate the design system before we’ve done all the planning work. Some third-party CMS vendors prefer to wait until everything else is done before integrating the CMS.
If we are able to prototype in a working CMS there are several benefits:
- We can test page layouts with your actual content across desktop and mobile.
- We can create working prototypes that become the real site once navigation and content are complete.
- As soon as the site architecture and content work plan are finalized you can start working on content in the CMS.
The home page, special landing pages and your site navigation depend heavily on your site strategy and architecture. We’ll design, build and test these during this phase. We may identify new functionality that we want to prototype and develop during this phase as well.
Content Strategy & Work Plan
Effective content strategy incorporates both brand strategy, the editorial needs of users and practical considerations for intuitive, useful content. Then there’s the hard work of collaborating with content owners to edit and migrate the content. Whether they had pages that numbered in the hundreds or in the thousands, we’ve guided many organizations through this process smoothly.
The CMS user is important too! The end user’s experience isn’t the only one we think about. To make content editors’ work easier we create author guides that provide specific advice on the text and images that should go into each part of a template, including things like formatting, word counts, and design requirements. In projects where we’re doing back-end CMS configuration we organize the admin screens logically and incorporate inline help text where possible.
We think elegant, intuitive. mobile-friendly design is better for everyone, and coincidently, so do search engines. Search engine algorithms are continually evolving to identify and reward effective intersections of user search intent and content across a web presence. A general list of what search engines reward in a website looks much the same as solid, responsible goals for any website design:
- Easy to use, navigate and understand
- Provides direct, actionable information that’s contextually relevant to search queries
- Logical information structure that’s accessible to modern browsers
- Quality, credible content as evidenced by user engagement
Our content strategies are developed to create meaning and get results for both human and machine audiences alike.
We implement technical SEO requirements (URL structure, meta tags etc.) with every project. We may also perform initial organic optimization depending on the client’s needs.
Once the content and buildout for the site are complete, it’s time to move on to Final Prep, Test & Launch.