Huge Websites – to Manage the Challenge!
When some web designers see it coming they call in sick. What let web managers and art directors burst into joy may destroy a web designer’s day. We are talking about large websites; not the 50 page range website but the ones that start with 150 pages and easily can run up to 500 pages and more. What are you doing when it comes to you? Run away or face the challenge? Here are 10 tips on how to handle the web design of large websites. Right at the beginning of the project check for technical challenges. Try to figure out if the building of the website requires new technologies or software which you and your co-workers never mastered before. Is there interactivity you need to program? Do you need to use software you never touched before? Are there unusual requirements to the server or system software? Is it mandatory to build the website only on a specific server (LINUX or Windows)? Check on additional expenses for server environment and software licenses. Don’t forget about the additional time needed when using new software. Forget about holding your thumb up in the wind to guess the scope of labor. Be serious. While talking to your client take notes of all main parts the website should contain or go to www.html-branders.com
Detail the site’s architecture down to the lowest level of the organizational hierarchy. Use an org-chart software or just pencil and paper to create a complete organizational chart. Group similar pages into templates with variable sets of text and image fields. Use Excel sheets for each section and template and calculate the complete scope of labor. Type in the hours for graphic design, web design, programming, flash, tests, server and database setup and don’t forget the meetings with your client. How many people will work on the website? How many at the same time and how many can only start after others finished a job? Create a project plan. Use professional project management software, a spreadsheet program or simply chart paper and pen. Calculate the manpower REALISTICALLY. Use a guiding principle (each country has a different, this is an American) for each trade. As a rule of thumb you can calculate that up to 25% of weekly time cannot be counted in for labor. For a person with a high demand on creativity the numbers are even smaller. Consider hiring freelancers when your staff is too small. But do it in time. In the worst case don’t be touchy and ask a competitor for help. First things first, right? When your client made the deposit you will start. Make sure he knows your process so that you can tell him where you are at all times. But do you know your process? Do your co-workers know it? Take care that you are all on the same page and organize your process like this: Creative part and graphic design of Look&FeelCreate a numbered list of all pages and content fields and make it available to all participants you ca visit www.impacts-audio.com
Take care for server setup and domain names Create the templates and placeholders (text and images) including the CSS/Script/Flash Start creating/collecting content (text, images, multimedia, interactive) Create the admin site Setup the database Assemble the website and create the pages Bring in the content using the admin or direct access to database Go beta Get the website content in time The most named reason for the delay of a website is missing content. And inside the missing content the most named is “missing copy text”. How comes? Well most clients think they can either write copy by them self or by their staff. And we all know that this almost never happens. Either the text is too small, too large, too bad or simply never delivered. BEFORE starting a huge website make sure that YOU have the content already handy or YOU have the responsibility to create it. Never start without it. Hire a copy writer and collect material from your client in time. Get your client’s experts ready for an interview. Before starting a huge website make sure that you meet all people your client named in charge for the project in person. Keep in mind that a huge website has a lot of demand on text and images. Even a 150 page website may need up to 500 different small and large text fields and up to 800 images. Separate static and actual content every huge website has content that needs permanent actualization. Take care that you concentrate on filling in these parts only at the very end of your process. Use placeholders instead to test the attributes and quality as well as the functions of the administration site. If the content will be actualized by your client’s staff make sure the regarding section in the admin site has an extra on good usability. If you use content provider for actual stuff check the interface to though website over and over. Check interactive elements in timid a huge website has inter-active elements start checking them early from different point of views: check different browser and server configurations. Have a look on what will happen in heavy traffic environments.