Introduction: Step-by-step Success on the Web.
Welcome to our Web Planner, a step-by-step development guide designed to help you understand what it takes to build, market and maintain a Web site that works for you. In the Planner, we will share with you some of the things we've learned in the process of developing sites for clients and publishing and maintaining our own sites since 1996.

The first question most people want answered is, "How much does a Web site cost?" The cost will depend on the type of site you're talking about, the amount of design work, custom programming, interactive features, graphics, etc. It's like building a car. You can buy cars for under $20,000 and others cost over $350,000. The least expensive Web site we've developed was for a not-for-profit client and was $800. The most expensive, over $260,000. That doesn't mean the average site is about $100,000. We approach every Web site development project from a zero-based perspective. We sit down with our client and work together to define a functional specification for their site. Using that specification as a guide, we estimate the time it will take to develop, code, program, test and launch the site and we derive a cost.

The cheapest type of site to develop is an online brochure which is basically a number of pages and maybe a few forms for feedback. These sites can be constructed using software packages like FrontPage and DreamWeaver, but as you probably already know... design talent, Web experience, and creative and marketing knowhow don't come in the box with the software. Software products are merely tools and they don't make someone a Web developer.

That said, let's get down to business. The development process is continuous and involves the seven steps listed below. Each one is important, but none as important as working with a budget that allows you to succeed.

1. Setting goals for the site.
2. Architecture: File structure, navigation, etc..
3. Design: The look and feel, features and functionality of the site.
4. Content: Creating the content, static and interactive features.
5. Production: Graphics, coding, testing, launching.
6. Marketing: Getting found, promoting the site online and off.
7. Maintenance: Keeping it fresh, updating, refining.

These steps remain the same for an online catalog, e-commerce site, an e-publication, a resource site, corporate information site, online guide, hotel booking site, travel site, etc. And while the process will yield vastly different sites in terms of look and feel, features, functionality and purpose, the sites will succeed as a result of adherence to the process.

To follow the process, use the hyperlinks at the top of this page or the hyperlinks below. If you would like to get started building a Web site that works for you, give us a call or simply email us. We can help you set goals and develop a budget to accomplish them.

For advanced ecommerce web design, you may need to bring in the professionals, but this should give you a foundation to build from.

STEP 1: Setting Goals