[This is the second of a three part series that explains the website development process in excruciating detail. The good news, you will be a pro by the time you’ve made it through all three trimesters. Pun intended. You can read part one in this series here.]
Step 6: Wireframes (one week after IA approval)
Utilizing the IA as a guide, the information architect, and sometimes a designer, creates the homepage wireframe. This is where the house begins to form a character or personality. The wireframe shows where specific content will live on the website’s homepage as well as how the top-level navigation will be structured. As with the IA, the wireframe is based upon generally accepted best practices, user testing and prioritizing accessibility of pertinent information. If a site is substantial, the IA will sometimes create a wireframe for some subpages as well.
Step 7: Content Development (five weeks after wireframe approval)
Once the wireframe is approved, the content team begins to write and organize the text that will eventually populate the pages framed in the IA. The content specialist will most likely conduct interviews, ask more questions, research the topic(s) and then put (virtual) pen to paper. The specialist may need to talk with stakeholders, doctors and anyone who has a keen understanding of the information we are attempting to provide. There are several rounds of internal approvals/edits prior to your team reviewing the content.
In addition to writing the content that will populate your site, there may be Health Library pages to write, create or update, key words to match, videos to load onto the JHM YouTube channel, doctors’ profiles to write or update for the directory, photos to find and source or a photo shoot to be set up and conducted.
As you will know from the production schedule provided by the PM, you probably won’t hear much from your Web team during this part of the process. The content specialist/team is busy:
- rewriting and collecting elements
The project manager may contact you from time to time about next steps or issues with scheduling interviews, photo shoots, etc. If you don’t hear from us that is a good sign, it means we are having success and the project is progressing as planned.
Once completed and approved internally, the PM or content specialist will post the content in Basecamp for your team’s review, edits and approval. This is your team’s opportunity to very carefully review all text and make changes. Any stakeholders or decision makers need to be involved at this stage and provide edits. Please be advised that revising content after it is populated into the website will most likely delay the project and increase costs.
This content review process can take as long as two weeks, from the time content is provided until your team responds and the specialist incorporates edits for your final approval. Once the content is finalized by your team, it is submitted to copy edit. Copy edit reviews it for grammatical issues, branding infractions, spelling mistakes and anything else that may be amiss.
Step 8: Production Phase (three weeks to three months, depending on the size of the website)
The production phase begins only after content is final approved and returns from copy edit. As with the content phase, production is a specialized task and will require little input or time from your team until final website approval. From time to time, the PM may provide progress reports or ask questions, but generally the team is busy:
- creating pages
- populating content
- sourcing images
- writing code
- fixing issues
- conducting several rounds of quality assurance (QA)
- meeting internally to discuss next steps, etc.
Our goal is to provide a glitch-free site on the day it is due. If it becomes evident during production that the launch date is in jeopardy, the PM will communicate the issue, any options you may need to consider and the revised timing.
Around a week prior to the launch date, the Web team finishes the first round of production, and the site link is provided to your team for review. The site is not live at this point; it is built in a development environment and visible only to those who have the link. With the many approvals leading up to the production phase, this review is for disaster checks only—not for content revisions, IA changes or design questions. We are looking for your help to point out any red flags or functionality glitches not apparent in our development environment. The production department continues QA every step through launch, but sometimes we don’t know of an issue that might show up on outside servers.