I begin every project with a conversation to rough out the specifications for your site: design, function, scale, audience, and goals. I also provide a simple intake form that you can download or fill out online. The form is not comprehensive, but it's an excellent tool to help you think about your site and what you want it to do. The more information I can collect, the more efficient and accurate I can be in drafting a proposal for you.
Based on your specifications, I prepare a draft proposal including options and an estimated budget. When a proposal is accepted, we can then have some more specific discussions to refine and detail the design, structure, and timeframe for your project. I strongly recommend that you have the basic content you will want on the initial site already prepared and ready to deliver. The actual content makes a big difference when designing the structure and informs important choices.
Design & Build
Typically, I approach the initial work on two tracks—design and structure. I do my initial designs in a multi-layered Photoshop file that allows me to efficiently try out different options and present them to you as simple JPEG comps. Based on your feedback, I can make adjustments to color, size, position, and hierarchy of elements, until we hone in on a basic design that meets your approval.
I build the draft install of the site on a local server. This allows me to get the bulk of the back-end technical work done in a private, version-controlled environment, configure technical and structural components, and test out basic functions. Once the basic install is "in the ballpark," I push the draft site to a private staging server where you can review development and test functionality.
When the design is aproved, I add custom theme code to the staging installation and refine it in the context of a "live" interactive environment. I use the excellent Omega theme as the basis for my site design. Omega is a really powerful framework that will accept just about any design you can imagine. It also has the added—and increasingly important—benefit of being a Mobile-First, Responsive layout which will display equally well on mobile devices and all browsers.
Review and Launch
With the site installed on the staging server, you will be able to log in and check progress at any time you like, as often as you like. This provides us with a nice way to colaborate, review, and refine your site as it's being developed. You will be able to see the site exactly as it will appear when it is live—test every function, try out the navigation, and inspect design elements. Once you are satisfied with the staging site, we can proceed to launching the live site.