Our Process - Planning
When it comes to planning the more technical elements of a website project we need to have the following technology considerations in mind.
Multiple Display Types
The first thing to remember is that users will access your website using a multitude of devices and this needs to be planned for. Display screens vary in size enormously and the most common screen sizes are:
- Desktops and laptops: 15-21 inches
- Tables: 7-10 inches
- Smartphones: 4-7 inches
- Televisions: 5-100 inches!
We make sure the project gives the user the best possible experience on whatever device they use.
An appropriate site platform is chosen based on the scope of the project and required functionality. We almost always recommend the DNN platform for non Ecommerce projects.
Given Google's emphasis on mobile-friendly sites, we recommend responsive design no matter what the industry or goal. Responsive design is a method for building websites that uses advanced code to automatically resize, re position, show and hide content according to the screen size of the user. So if a customer were to start viewing a website from their laptop then jump to their smartphone, the quality of their user experience would be the same regardless of what device they are on.
Responsive Design + Mobile Site
Some projects use responsive for desktop, laptop and tablet use, and a separate mobile site for phone use. This is best suited if a web app is designed for phones only. The drawback with this is that there are two sets of content to maintain.
Mobile Only Site
If the site is targeted at mobile users only, then a mobile site may be appropriate. These sites are relatively rare but are growing in number.
Retina Display Ready
More people are now buying devices that include high resolution screens.
Retina display is a marketing term developed by Apple to refer to devices and monitors that have a resolution and pixel density so high – roughly 300 or more pixels per inch – that a person is unable to discern the individual pixels at a normal viewing distance. They essentially work by cramming more pixels per inch (PPI) onto the display.
In practice, Apple has converted a device's display to retina by doubling the number of pixels in each direction, quadrupling the total resolution. This increase creates a sharper interface at the same physical dimensions. In principle, a retina display is as good - or at least, as high-resolution - as a screen could ever need to be, since increasing the resolution wouldn't be noticeable by the average human eye.
Steps must be taken in the planning and development stage to ensure images are properly sized and that other graphics are prepared in the right way. Logos and icons, for example, may have to be converted to scalable vector graphic format (SVG).
Content Delivery Networks
According to Wikipedia, "A content delivery network or content distribution network (CDN) is a large distributed system of servers deployed in multiple data centers across the Internet. The goal of a CDN is to serve content to end-users with high availability and high performance. CDNs serve a large fraction of the Internet content today, including web objects (text, graphics and scripts), downloadable objects (media files, software, documents), applications (eCommerce, portals), live streaming media, on-demand streaming media, and social networks."
Almost every project that we deliver now is connected to a CDN. The main advantage is speed of page and image load time. However, there are other very useful premium services offered by suppliers such as "zero downtime" (for eCommerce this is a must as downtime costs money) and "denial of service" attack protection (required for high profile sites such as government agencies) at very reasonable prices.
When it comes to hosting, you get what you pay for. Physical resources include disk space, CPU allocation, memory and bandwidth use, systems backup and recovery, plus the quality of infrastructure within the data center. The most important factors, in our opinion, are up-time and true 24/7/365 support. The cheap hosting suppliers offer the poorest resources, oldest infrastructure and in a lot of cases non-existent support. You can't afford a cheap hosting company!
These are the things we look for in a hosting company:
- Security of data center: Multi-tiered security measures to ensure the physical security of your data, including 24/7/365 professional security, video surveillance, biometric retinal scanning, and a man-trap entry point.
- Location: Located in an area with a relatively stable climate and is free from threats of natural disasters.
- Power: UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) systems for protection against power spikes and outages backed up by diesel generators. Onsite fuel reserves to provide multiple days of uninterrupted availability.
- Network: Complete network redundancy at all key points to ensure uninterrupted connections, from ISPs, peers, border routers and core routers.
- Audit: Audited by an external body to ensure that procedures and controls are formally and thoroughly reviewed.
- Size of plan: The size of hosting plan is determined by the physical resources that are required to run the application. The number of visitors that use the site every day plus the size (in terms of data) and number of pages that are viewed are the main factors to take into account. Small sites can sit comfortably on a "shared" low cost hosting plan. However, hosting costs can climb dramatically if a virtual or dedicated servers are required. Large applications may need a group of servers.
For these reasons we recommend managed.com for hosting all of our DNN projects.
A conversion funnel is a group of pages that guide the user to the conversion goal. The number of funnels in a website will vary, but it's usually between two and four depending on the needs of the business.
Websites optimized for conversion contain different page templates that are specifically designed with a purpose.
Here are some of the main page templates we recommend having designed and built:
- Home page
- Product category view (eCommerce)
- Product detail view (eCommerce)
- Checkout pages (eCommerce)
- Landing pages (with variants for A/B testing)
- Inside pages (possibly two or three styles depending on the purpose of the page)
Copywriting and Content Plan
Don't underestimate the importance of this part of the project. A great compelling, converting website needs a lot of good quality content that speaks to a target market and is optimized for the Search Engines.
High quality images and graphics can transform an ordinary website into a great website. Professional photography is always the best route to go. Stock photography can be a good option too. Remember, retina and high resolution displays require large high resolution images.
There are important technical factors, that influence SERP (search engine ranking positions), to account for when planning a new website project. The code of the site must be written in such a way to make the site search engine friendly.
Here are some technical SEO elements we always consider:
- We Create a HTML Sitemap page on your site
- We make sure your site is mobile-friendly
- We Keep website code "clean" and easy for search spiders to index
- We optimize page speed (search engines like sites that load fast)
- We regularly check for web server errors using Google Webmaster Tools
- We avoid flash and text contained in images
A website may be the center of a digital marketing strategy but there is no point in investing in a website if nobody ever sees or uses it. That's why in conjunction with a website, a complete marketing plan is needed to include other digital tactics that are designed to reach an ideal customer, with an engaging message, delivered through the right channel at the perfect time.