Depending on your needs, website development can be straightforward or extremely complex.
There is a methodology to website development, and it starts with asking lots of questions about your business, your audience and your objectives.
Writing and designing websites that provide a high quality user experience for diverse audiences requires accepting simplicity and developing based on widely accepted standards of best practice.
Search engine optimisation (SEO), mobile friendly / first design, writing in plain English and WCAG accessibility are central to what I do.
I have considerable experience project managing the development of websites. This vital role functions as a coordinator and facilitator who ensures good communication between all contributors.
Conflict and communication barriers often undermine projects, with different teams not understanding each other. I speak marketing, management and IT and can translate between the suits and geeks.
I am experienced in writing functional specifications and design briefs for new websites, and planning and documenting changes or enhancements to existing sites.
Planning and development
- Determining what functions you want your website to deliver
- Consultation process – seeking feedback from staff, clients and customers about what they want the website to achieve
- Defining the scope of the project
- Choosing a content management system (CMS)
- Defining accessibility standards as functional requirements that must be achieved by the developer
- Defining search engine optimisation standards as functional requirements that must be achieved by the developer
- Defining security standards as functional requirements that must be achieved by the developer
- Advising on privacy and data security
- Strategic planning for online marketing and communications (coordinating website, social media and email communications)
- Identifying what other tools and platforms are required to complement the project (MailChimp or Campaign Monitor for email newsletters, Facebook, Twitter, etc).
Content management systems
I have experience working with many content management systems (CMS) including WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Expression Engine, Sharepoint, TextPattern, Squiz Matrix and Sitecore.
I specialise in developing sites with WordPress CMS because it is the most user friendly and intuitive CMS for non-technical content creators to use while offering the widest range of ready-to-use plugins that provide specific features and functions.
My philosophy is that if your website is too complicated and technical for your team to use, it won’t get used as much as it should. Publishing content on WordPress is no more difficult than writing an MS Word document.
Information architecture is often misunderstood by clients and developers alike. They may not be aware of the fundamental SEO implications of different forms of URL structures created by the information architecture, and may make bad decisions as a result.
- Designing the information architecture (the hierarchical structure of the content in the site)
- Designing the taxonomy (the categories that shape the content)
- Designing the navigation (the menus and links that determine how users find content).
The sites I build feature a responsive design that resizes itself according to the screen size of the device it is being viewed on (desktop computer, tablet or smartphone).
This means that a site is functional and attractive regardless of what device it is viewed on. It also means there is no need to develop a separate mobile app, or multiple apps for different mobile platforms.
As an experienced technical writer who regularly prepares the following documents for website projects, I can ensure your briefs communicate clearly to external agencies:
- Graphic design brief
- Functional specification (a technical brief to a website developer)
- Project brief (for use by a project manager) that defines the roles and responsibilities of the parties contributing to a website development project: marketing and communications team, management team, IT team, project manager, graphic designer, developer
- Website manual for use by marketing and communications staff who are responsible for publishing content.