Sunnywood Design Collective
Our IdeaPeoplePortfolioServicesProcessContact

The Creative Process

Great creative design relies on an informed, inclusive process. While each project is different, our process is consistent. Below is a view into each phase of a comprehensive web site project. We take a similar approach with other types of work.

Discovery

During this first stage we roll up our sleeves and work hard to learn enough about our clients so that we can really help them communicate better. We usually try to sit down with as many of the key players as possible and ask all kinds of questions. We'll look at all the other materials creating the brand, finding out what has worked and what hasn't worked as well. We ask questions and listen, trying to identify key points or the basis of understanding. We then ask around and find out what other people think, offering user testing and peer review.

Planning

We take what we've learned from the discovery phase and we serve as a sounding board, reflecting what we've learned and believe to be the highest priorities. We use all our resources and experience to establish a plan for satisfying these goals. At this phase the ideas are flushed out and become solid enough to build on. An approved site plan is the document that we arrive at after refining and shaping. This is the most important part to get right. If the plan is good, the site will be good.

Visual Design

Again drawing from the discovery phase, the design team formulates the visual and organizational options that are then reviewed and refined. We take an iterative process with our clients to evolve a beautiful and effective design that meets the needs of the client and the full range of viewers. Once the audience is thrilled, we build the framework of the site using XHTML and CSS standards, providing the best cross-browser compatibility. We also utilize various WYSIWYG editors for template and maintenance purposes depending on project needs. We'll make the mechanics of the site clean, simple and efficient. Standards compliance, ease of maintenance, and bandwidth efficiency are our priorities in site architecture.

Content

Content development can begin right after the site plan has been approved. The site plan provides the content structure so once the visual design phase is in place the content, images, videos, and illustrations can be flowed into the pages. Quality content is king. It is what makes a good site a great site and we can help produce it.

Dynamic Features

Most sites we build incorporate dynamic content of one sort or another. We love to see it. It makes a site more interesting and more valuable to visitors. We scope out these features when building the site plan. Where possible, we rely on previous work (ours or open source) to maximize the value of our time for our clients. We build with PHP / MySQL or ASP.NET / SQL Server on the back end and use Javascript for the front-end. We use state-of-the-art Web 2.0 techniques like AJAX to provide a rich environment. These tools and others are judiciously applied based on feature and budget requirements. Our development is test-driven to assure proper functionality right from the start.

Review and Testing

This is the stage when all the work comes together to feel like a real site. The framework is working, the content is in place, and the complete site is ready for proofing and final review. We get out the fine tooth comb to make sure that all the content is in place, dynamic features are functioning properly, and the site works as a whole. We work with the client to review the product, making sure expectations have more than been met. We fully test the site in its production environment. We also provide training and documentation on any administrative systems or content management tools.

Site Launch

For launch, the site is moved from its testing location to its rightful home. We do post-launch testing and review, making sure all the functionality is working. Then it's time to take a step back and enjoy the result with our client.

The Future

Though the project is finished, our work is not over. We as builders have a special connection to our sites, wanting to continue to foster their usefulness. During the project we create style guidelines to preserve the look and feel of the site and set up tracking statistics to follow a site's evolving state of success. The medium allows continued refinement, so we make ourselves available to address changes. We believe a well maintained relationship with clients makes for a well maintained site.