Some clients have no idea what is involved in the process of building a website. Below are the basic steps involved when I create a website for a client; which will give you a better idea of the process.
The first step in having your website created is exploring your options, desires, needs, goals, and of course your competition. Looking at the websites of the people you will be competing with is an important step in the design process. I recommend looking around at different websites, and figuring out what you do and don't like about them.
At this step we will go over what the main purpose and target audience of your website will be. We will also talk about what features it will have. Do you need a photo gallery? A contact form? How much content will there be? Where will this content come from? Do you have images and photos to use on the site, or will I be using stock images? These are all important things we will go over. These are some of the factors that define how complex the site will be.
Once we go over what the website will contain, I will send a quote for the job. The quote includes the design of the site, uploading it onto your server space, and registering it on search engines. Any other charges (such as stock images), will be added to the final payment. The first payment is half of the total cost. This is due before any design work begins. The final payment is due after final approval of the site, before it is launched online. More details will be in the design contract.
It's finally time for my favorite part of the whole process, design! I design the home page to your website for you to approve. At this point it is just a flat image you are approving. Depending on the complexity of your site, a separate interior page design may be created for approval also. Once the design(s) are approved I turn the flat images into a working website. XHTML and CSS code is created at this point. All the different pages of the site are created, and the content is added. Any Flash, image galleries, or other features are created and added to the site.
Websites are viewed through a variety of browsers, as well as operating systems. In a perfect world, all the browsers would show the elements of websites exactly the same. Unfortunately this isn't the case. Spacing, fonts, and sizes can be different from browser to browser. Older versions of browsers don't support all the technologies that newer browsers do. Everyone should update to the latest browser version available, but that's not the case. Testing your websites on a variety of browsers and operating systems is necessary to make sure your clients are able to view and use your website no matter what they are viewing it on. You don't want to lose a potential customer because they have an old browser version on their computer. More info on updating your browser here.
Upon final approval and payment, it's time for your website to go live online. This is called launching your website. All the files are transferred from my computer to your online hosting server. Once this is done I register your website on the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, and MSN).
After your website is online, any changes are called website maintenance. Keeping your website content up to date is important. Website maintenance is done at an hourly rate.