How Our 4D Process for Designing a Website is like Designing a House: Part One

How Our 4D Process for Designing a Website is like Designing a House: Part One

As an account manager, I often have to explain customedialabs’ process of building a website to our clients. To me, it’s simple; our process consists of four D’s: Discovery, Design, Development, and Deployment.  But for those of you who have never been part of building a website, it might seem confusing or overwhelming.  So instead, think about the process of building your dream home…

Discovery Phase

Gathering information.  Just as you would begin building your dream home by researching everything you could about the location, school district, neighborhood and demographics, the process of creating a website begins by gathering information, too.  We need to find out what the requirements are, analyze the business and current site, learn about the target audience, and understand the industry.

Scope of Work (SOW) development. Once you have gathered enough information about your home’s environment, you need to make some more decisions about the house itself: its size, your budget, completion and move-in dates, and who is going to build it (the architect and general contractor).  Developing the scope of work for a website has many of the same decisions that must be made.  What does this include? You need to budget hours, define the elements of the scope, and the timeframe to completion. The SOW is also dependent on the type of people needed – will this engagement require our design team? Development team?  Both?

Signed SOW. Anyone who has bought or built a house can tell you: there is a lot of paperwork to sign! Luckily, our contracts are usually just a few pages.  But like building a house, we can’t move forward without that signed document.

Research.  Even after signing paperwork, there is another stage of research.  Once you’ve purchased land for your dream home, you would probably want to talk friends who’ve recently built a home, discuss the plans with your architect and contractor, read trade magazines and otherwise get ready to begin the Design process.   Likewise, when designing a website, once the contracts are signed, we conclude our Discovery phase with an additional round of research.  We do key stakeholder interviews and generate user personas, so that we can build our user experience and content strategy.

So you see, there is a lot of planning that goes in to building a website.  We don’t just slap up a template and let it go.  We work to gather a holistic picture of your business and the customers you serve, and custom create a site that meets your needs.  A thorough Discovery phase is the foundation for a well-built site.