The process of planning, designing and developing a website to accomplish a specific goal can be pretty daunting. It is tempting to skip steps like planning or design and jump right in to development or hire someone to create your website. We have learned that building strong partnerships with our clients throughout the entire process is the best way to develop successful websites.
We rely on public information officers, administrative assistants and other content contributors to partner with us in the planning and design phases, then later in the development stage, to inventory, collect, create and upload content to your site. It is a lot of work, but it is worth it. You all are experts in your area of concentration and no one knows your content better than you do. We do all we can to help you focus on your content and keep it targeted, rich and up-to-date.
You will have specific tasks to accomplish throughout this process, but in these pages, we'll tell you more about what we bring to the table. This is definitely a team effort and you are a very big part of that team. Even if you are planning to hire an external vendor for all or part of the site work, you may find the information on this page useful. While each agency's specific processes undoubtedly vary, the overall process is very similar.
The Planning stage can take anywhere from one to four weeks depending on the size and complexity of your website. During the planning stage we will learn about and help you establish clear goals and objectives for your website that will inform all the other steps in the process.
We start with a client survey that will be help guide our kick-off meeting. The information we gather helps everyone understand the scope of the work and the tasks you are responsible for.
As soon as possible (really as early in the process as possible) you can start on the Site Inventory Document. This will help you determine which of your content is up to date and what needs to be deleted or improved. Having the goals we will gather from the client survey will help guide you (and us) in this process.
Planning Stage Deliverables:
When OIT talks about design, we are usually referring to visual design. Currently, most departments are using some variation of the current home page (aka www.ohio.edu ) template.
Sometimes circumstances that warrent a custom web design. If this is the case, you can work through an approved vendor. OIT will work with you and the vendor to assure brand consistency.
Design Stage Deliverables:
University Communications and Marketing (UCM) maintain brand-related style information for use on official University web pages. The University Brand Standards are also available for download. Web-specific information begins on page 32.
The Web Services team meets regularly during all phases of website design and development. While you may or may not see the OIT crew in early meetings, they will see and have input in the documentation that was developed throughout the lifecycle of your site.
Once the necessary documentation is completed from the planning and design stage, the team begins building the website.
Development Stage Deliverables:
Depending on a number of factors, the launch of your site can take anywhere from a few seconds to several hours. Link checks are run sometimes multiple times during launch to ensure that links are correct, and users of the site do not encounter 'The Squirrel Page'. Although it's cute, it is not terribly useful.
After the site is launched, it enters maintenance mode. Requests for changes and enhancements from this point forward should be directed through the Customer Service Portal.