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Thank you for choosing School Site as your website solution! We are excited to launch your custom design project.

There are many details and steps involved in any website update project, and creating a new custom designed website has unique steps. While the School Site team is working on the actual design and code part of your project, you have the bigger job - content! You also will need to provide us with resources / assets, decisions, links and more throughout the project. Below are some hints and goals that will help all of us work towards getting your project up and running in a timely manner.

Discover & Definition Phase

STEP 1 - GOALS, AUDIENCE & VISION DEFINED

Before you embark on a new website project, you need to have a clear vision of the following:

  1. The #1 reason you are updating or upgrading your website now
     
  2. The #1 purpose of your website, and the secondary purpose of your site (Example: evanglism / marketing / enrollment is priority while serving current members / repeat visitors is secondary. OR maybe it's building online communities of existing members as priority and growth as secondary.)
     
  3. Your end-user audiences defined
     
  4. Goals of your project
     
  5. The types of content that you MUST have on your home page and how that content will help you reach your goals and vision
     
  6. Navigation / sitemap. This is a core step that is often left till late in the project, but should start right away. More details below.

Once you start to establish your vision and goals, ensuring that you understand who your primary targeted audience is, you are ready to meet with our team. We'll help you figure out how to reach your audience with your new design and offer suggestions along the way, but we can't define your goals, or your audience.

STEP 2 - WORKSHEET & RESOURCES

Step 2 is to complete worksheets and begin providing us with key resources. The Custom Design Project Worksheet, is required before we can schedule the intial consult conference and kick-off your project. Your to-do list now includes:

  1. Custom Design Project Worksheet (online form; link sent to you)
     
  2. Sitemap
     
  3. Photos / images for the new site (image/photography guidelines)
     
  4. Gathering logo files and any branding resources or guidelines (begin uploading to your Basecamp project)
     
  5. Start working on your new content

You'll receive a link to the online Custom Design Project Worksheet from your design project manager, after you've completed and returned the Custom Design Agreement to the sales specialst. You should also have received an invitation to a Basecamp for your Custom Design project. Contact us if you haven't received these items/links.

Resource Organization

We will require your logo file(s), any branding requirements if applicable, and some images to get your project started. You will be able to share any file with us via the Basecamp project we provide you with.

For file sharing within Basecamp, please create sub-folders to keep files organized. We would prefer to see a subfolder for Logos/Branding, Home Page Images, Other or Subpage Images, Videos, etc.

It is important to provide us with the original file, in the best possible quality / resolution you have access to.

Logo File Requirements

We request that your logo file(s) be provided in professional EPS file format. If EPS is not available, a high quality, transparent PNG file is acceptable.

If you do not have an EPS or PNG, we can work with most JPGs, but we may be limited or restricted depending on file size and overall graphic quality.

If you do not have professional logos for your organization, we do offer original logo creation design services, as well as logo updating / creating professional logo file services. Please contact us for more information.

STEP 3 - CONSULT & DESIGN KICK-OFF

Next, we will schedule a consult meeting (usually via an online conference) with you. During this meeting, we'll cover all your goals, needs, understand more of the audience you need to reach, as well as the vision of your website. We will discuss design aesthetics, but be prepared for us to focus more on content. We want to create a site that you can maintain and keep updated - not just a beautiful site.

The initial project consultation is typcially 90 minutes in length. We request that only the project manager and one or two other people attend this meeting - ideally someone who will be involved in building content on the website too. If you have a larger committee or additional stakeholders, one or two appointed individuals can keep them informed and/or consult with them, but our meetings are more productive with a smaller group of people in attendance.

During the consult, we'll use a variety of other websites (some may be other School Site customers, but non-customers and even other industry sites may be explored) as a means to help visually communicate ideals, examples, features and more of a website. We will focus on gathering information and ask questions about your process and content cycles too.

During this time, it's important for you and your team to continue your work on your sitemap, site photography and content.

Design Phase

STEP 1 - WIREFRAME, INITIAL LAYOUT, STYLE TILE

A wireframe is a simple black and white sketch of the home page. You can think of a wireframe as a blueprint is to building a house.

Unlike building a house, we don't create that extensive of a blueprint, or wireframe. Our wireframes are simple, and serve to provide you with a visual map of what elements and features will go where. They are essential to identifying key navigation and callout sections for users, and to be sure that the necessary content sections are accounted for on your home page.

You will need to review the wireframe and provide approval for us to move forward. Typically, we will proceed rapidly from the wireframe stage to the first design mockups.

STEP 2 - DESIGN CREATION

In the design stage, we will present an initial design concept, based on your wireframe and all the branding and design requirements communicated. Only a home page mockup is presented first, and we will work to solidfy the design just on the home page before proceeding to the interior design of your site.

To keep the project moving, it's important to move through the rounds of feedback, changes and approval in the design stage quickly. Be sure to email your project manager with questions whenever you need to, but we will need one email that has all revision requests consolidated.

Most projects go through 3 rounds of revisions and design modifications, but some projects go into a 4th round*. After we have approval of the majority of the home page, we proceed to the interior (inside) page of your site.

The interior design reflects all the design concepts established in the home page, and here we bring in customized features of the CMS (Content Management System). You will have full control of the layout of each individual interior page, so all the Faithwebsites CMS options will be designed, including page banners, interior navigation, right side bar, headings, page titles and more.

Items Required:

  • Upon Design Approval, we must have the following in order to submit to Implementation (next step). Not having these items will create a delay in the project.
     
  • Sitemap (if not already submitted). Please see our Sitemap page for additional details.
     
  • All social media and third party links. Your project manager can give you a full listing, but this can include Facebook, Twitter, and any links for icons and navigational buttons on your design that are not internal pages of your site.
     
  • Google Custom Search code. If you have elected to have a custom search on your site (not required), we will need you to provide us with the code for that search.
     
  • Any final images that have been requested of by your project manager.
     
  • Any email address that may be linked to from the footer (if applicable).

Develop Phase

Once we have received your full approval on the designs, we move the project over to our coding & implementation team and they will code your custom design within our CMS. Depending on queue volume, this process typcially take 2 to 3 weeks.

If you are an existing School Site customer, we will be working with you to plan your wrap/conversion or old-to-new site process.

Deploy Phase

As your project enters our testing phase of implementation, your project manager will contact you to schedule your Custom Site Training & Release! This training is to cover all the customized elements of your website, and is unique to your organization.

Much of the training will cover the home page, and then we will touch on the interior page unique elements. Anyone in your organization who is or will be responsible for the daily, or regular, content building and updating should be in attendance.

After the training session is complete, you will receive your access to your new website and can start building content! Our support team is available to answer any additional questions you may have along the way, and your Custom Design project will be officially complete.

TAKING YOUR SITE LIVE (OR THE GO-LIVE PROCESS)

If you've been organizing and building your content as we recommend, many customers find that adding content to their new site can move quickly. While every customer and project is unique, some customers have been ready to go live within 2 weeks, whereas others have taken more time to build and have gone live in 4 months. This is entirely up to you and your team. We are ready to assist your go-live process whenever you are ready!

Learn more about going live here >>