This blog post focuses on and provides some of the details for BlueBolt’s Development Process, yet it should be recognized that the key to success is the commitment to the effort. So, I thought it relevant to give some insight to the important points to our process, broken up into three (3) areas:
Discovery, User Experience, and Creative Design
No matter how a consultant attacks a project, or a Project Manager manages, the Process always starts with a concerted effort to further understand the exacting needs of the client. While the project scope should be set by a Project Discovery kick-off, the questions asked will build deeper confidence for clients and will frame up expectations for project success.
Project discovery will lead to answers on how the website should be architected, and that architecture will lead to User Interface design (wire frames). Those wire frames will be discussed and, once approved, will lead to creative website designs. In the case with most BlueBolt clients, those designs will usually become templates for websites built with Ecommerce Solutions or Content Management Systems. It should be noted that every BlueBolt project starts when a project estimate that gets converted to a project, and real tasks begin to take shape and get assigned to appropriate team members.
Implementation, Configuration, and Integration
The best creative web designers understand website development enough to provide design files that will make HTML creation as efficient as possible. So, BlueBolt recognizes that there is much more to website design than just visual appeal, and choosing the right creative talent for the right project is part of every turnkey project. Dynamic website implementation processes differ by project due to the infinite possibilities of the project scope, the availability and skill of the development team, and the platforms set to deploy for the project. It is crucial to determine how custom integration and custom development will fit into the project scope, and where all such elements fit on the overall roadmap.
Testing, Deployment, and transfer of duties to Service components
Too often overlooked by website developers, website testing is mandatory and requires its own process (great fodder for another blog!). After many years, BlueBolt has come to the conclusion too much testing is still not enough (!), and that few tasks are more important than software testing and/or website development testing. This duty must be carried out at every juncture in the development process. Once the key developers, or even the client, has approved development via the staging or development site, it must be pushed up to some level of actual production. While every case is different, there should be a separate deployment process, to ensure system security, timing for live content publishing, and to achieve optimum site performance. Usually, documentation must be provided for the deployed tools, as well as administrator, and/or host accounts, and FTP accounts. Many new solutions require some level of generic or custom system training, and almost all BlueBolt clients request some level of support or maintenance services to manage constantly evolving websites.
While I recognize that nothing mentioned above is rocket science and seems logical, even the best Project Manager can find themselves veering away from an established process. The key is to set proper expectations for everyone involved, as well as encouraging maximum involvement that will lead to everyone having a sense of ownership and carrying out the duties assigned.