Ascertaining the project scope is a critical moment. This will eventually ensure a clear assessment of the customer’s expectations.
At this stage we dissect the market, major competitors, increased complexity aspects that can occur along the way. Should the customer not have a terms of reference document, we can create one. We ask some more questions, receive some answers and then we are ready to offer some budget and time quotes. Now it is the crucial moment when both the customer and AMIGO decide if they are willing to further collaborate or not.
If it is consensual, the contract is signed, the delivery deadline is set and the budget is calculated. We are making sure the client has understood that they still must involve in the project in the regards of prompt communication. Delayed replies lead to postponing the established deadline.
The terms of reference document is the cornerstone of all projects, but especially for the complicated ones. It is the quintessence of the project functionality and management system. Either the customer elaborates it, should they have the necessary knowledge, or AMIGO, for additional payment.
A well-conceived document saves customer’s money and our time; therefore it is mandatory to have it prior to starting all the new projects.
LOLWe are aware of cases when this “little document” rescued customers from panic attacks, nervous breakdowns and self-confidence loss.
Playing modest, we still assert that we are truly dedicated to the work we do, hence all projects are set to about 3 months, depending on their complexity. This means that for a new project we must fix a time period including a starting date. This date is not when the customer first walks in our studio, but only after we check other projects we are involved in and can appropriate the needed time for this one, so that we can focus and work on it.
This is the no-turn around stage :)
Be it a simpler or more complex project, it will mandatory have a number of pages that define the hierarchical structure – the sitemap. We canvass all the thinkable (and sometimes unthinkable) situations that may occur and determine the pages that would be needed to go to. Moreover, the sitemap highlights the relationships between the pages and conducts the navigation on the soon-to-be site. The sitemap must be approved by the customer and is the landmark for the wireframe building.
The wireframe is the sketch that shows in a raw form how the content will arrange. It is presented in a minimal color scheme, without any design elements, just to emphasize the hierarchical arrangement of the content and in no way its details.
Illustration of how the wireframe looks like for our project Newsmaker. Right: the news category page; left: a single news item page.
When the 2nd step is behind, we proceed to the next important stage – visual presentation, which is the most impressive. This is the reason we at Amigo strive to a simple, explicit and snug design. The graphical presentation is orbited by the customer’s brand, so that it completes the corporate image from the offline communication. If there is no offline communication and the brand identity is a blind spot, we will offer a few solutions regarding the colors, forms and logo improvement recommendations.
This is a quite substantial and work-overloaded time; therefore it can last up to 50% of the entire project. We arduously work on the details of every icon, button, which cannot give us the possibility to offer 2-3 design versions, how some of the clients may expect. Based on the wireframes, the customer is already privy to what to expect and even if the road is sinuous (which is something very routine), we always include 2 iterations of corrections and adjustments.
Namely at this time we work also on the more specific aspects. They are details sometimes hidden to the eye. But, this is important, because our professionalism is based on, as they say: the devil is in the details.
When all the above is done, both drawn and approved, we proceed with the mark-up, which refers to “translating” the graphic design into HTML code.
Because AMIGO keeps a close watch on web design innovations, you can be sure that the mark-up will be accomplished at a professional level and will be compatible with the most popular browsers.
This stage also includes the preparation of the administration dashboard (CMS) and the date base projection. For this we have our own product that is improved year by year. It is a system based on solely a customer’s needs and its functionality differs for each project, without useless options like other open-source solutions do: WordPress, Drupal etc.
For each of the specific sections a separate module is developed, which allows a simple and fast management, even for complex projects.
On the right you can see how the photographs archive module looks like in the administration panel for the site NewsMaker.
Information for versed users: the panel is written in CakePHP framework. For database management we use MySQL.
The most difficult is behind and the most interesting is going to happen soon. At this stage we improve the buying process, user account registration, search filter implementation, sending data processes interaction. These are crucial aspects as they determine the visitor experience quality.
The form in the image herewith, taken from DEC camp site, allows online ordering, All fields are validated to ensure that the site managers receive accurate information.
Also, namely for this situation we reserved a special field in the CMS for the administrator to input the currency exchange rate USD – UAH. The price for the vacation is calculated considering this rate and the customer sees the price in UAH as the total.
In the PSD file everything looks A1. The HTML developer converted it into a perfect HTML skeleton. But, when the CMS is connected and the functionality testing begins, some bugs may make their appearance. They should be sorted out and annihilated a.s.a.p.
The big day has come. We’ve tested, we’ve found and eliminated the bugs. AMIGO is known to always deliver the products in time, as we always promise the customers realistic timeframes and are far from the principle “cheap sites made in 2 weeks”.
The launching is made on a hosting with basic requirements that can suffice the customer at this moment; however, it can be upgraded at anytime, as soon as needed.
We offer 3 months guarantee. During this time we correct within 1-2 business days any drawbacks that occur during the site exploitation. After this timeframe, some clients opt to benefit of our site maintenance assistance, other come back to have their projects improved by adding new functionalities.
For complicated and large projects the launching date is a relative term, as while the site is available online with a restricted functionality, on the backstage AMIGO team is still sweating working on the most complex and important things.