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What to Expect When Working with the Solution Agency Development Team

August 20, 2021 - Kelly Mason

Getting started working with a new development team at a digital agency that your team has never worked with before can seem daunting. You want to make sure that you are getting a development team that is going to take the right approach to ultimately meet your development goals. A team that is agile, and able to work easily with your internal teams is key for most clients.

Our goal at Solution Agency is to constantly be learning, adapting, and fine-tuning our approach to both our development process and our project management process. Not to mention – making sure we are staying up to date with the latest development trends and technologies to provide you with solutions that are relevant and meet industry standards.

Curious about what it might be like if you choose Solution Agency as your development partner? Read on…we are going to break down our core development services, how we manage those internally, and how the development team interfaces with our other in-house teams to deliver successful results for every client.

What Types of Development Projects Does Solution Agency Work On? And HOW do We Work on Them?

Full Development Projects

A full development project encompasses anything from new site builds website site redesigns, implementation of new site functionality, and more. Basically – anything that is not an emergency support request or ongoing site maintenance. These projects are our bread and butter – we love to help our clients build (or rebuild!) their websites into something functional and beautiful that will help them reach their digital goals.

Managing Full Development Projects

Full development projects are typically the hardest type to manage. There are a lot of moving parts to full development projects, and depending on the project timelines can be lengthy. Full development projects require a consistent approach from the very start of the project to ensure that our development team, and the client’s internal team (your team!), stay aligned in terms of goals and expectations.

Don’t worry though – with over 15 years of web development experience, we make sure our process is easy to follow and clearly outlines the expectations every step of the way. Here is how we break down the phases of our full development projects:

Phase 1: Strategy, Technical Discovery, and Sitemap/Content Mapping

The first phase in any full development project is the discovery phase. The discovery phase allows our team to accomplish a couple of key things before we actually begin development including:

  • Understanding your brand’s goals and industry positioning.
  • Collecting your brand’s assets and guidelines – think colors, logos, font styles, and more.
  • Understanding the technical needs (and constraints) of the website. Defining the technologies, frameworks, and third-party integrations that will be used. For example, does your site need a booking plugin integration? How will that work from a technical standpoint and a user experience perspective?
  • Outlining any specific WordPress backend customizations needed for ease of updating the website long-term.
  • Reviewing any previous website analytics to determine visitor device usage, traffic sources, etc. that may influence end design and responsiveness.
  • Working with the client to determine key content pages, keywords, CTA, and messaging used throughout the website. This helps us begin building our initial user flow/sitemaps and content maps.

We devote a considerable amount of time to this strategy and discovery phase as this phase is crucial to the success of every team that will be working on the project and informs the design and development decisions we make moving forward. 

The bigger the project – the more time is needed to devote to the management of discovery and strategy. You can expect this to be a highly collaborative phase, between not only our internal teams but with you – the client – to make sure that all of the information we are collecting is correct and aligns with your end goals.

The end goal of this phase is to gather and record all of the information needed to actually begin the execution of your project. This phase sets every team – not just our development team – up for the successful completion of your project.

Phase 2: Design

Most – if not all – full development projects include some sort of design phase. During this phase, our in-house design team will begin to leverage the materials gathered in phase one to start designing your website’s look and feel concepts.

While we won’t dive into all the nuts and bolts of the design phase – this article is mainly focused on development team processes – during this phase you can expect our design team to build out a series of page templates, and mobile templates that our developers will use as the basis to begin building your website.

Our development team likes to be a part of the design conversation and review all designs prior to client review, to confirm that the designs can be executed as expected.

Phase 3: Development

After completion and sign-off of the design phase, we start phase three – the development phase. This is where we begin actually building your website – and where the process really starts to get exciting, as things become functional and you see your vision come to life.

The Solution Agency development team primarily focuses on custom WordPress development. No two sites are the same – and you won’t see any premade or out-of-the-box themes used here. As such, each development phase is going to look a little different depending on the client’s needs and build goals.

Once we are in phase three, we’ve got our technical strategy, sitemaps, content maps, and site design hammered out. The development process begins with setting up our development environment on our servers. This development environment is our testing grounds and is completely password protected and non-indexable so that our team (and your team!) can work on, and review the site before it goes live for the world to see.

Once the development environment is set up – we always start with the basics. Building out the core UI of the site (items like headers and footers). From there we start developing the global styles (items like typography, vertical spacing, button styles, etc) and page templates – providing us with a consistent base to load content and specific functionality components into.

A typical full development timeline might look something like this:

  1. Set up the development environment.
  2. Build base UI and global styles.
  3. Build page templates.
  4. Input website content.
  5. Build any custom functionality and integrate third party plugins or eCommerce functionality.
  6. Present to the client for review and revise as needed.
  7. Client approval to head into QA testing and launch preparations.

Phase 4: QA Testing & Launch Preparation 

Once the client has approved the website development in phase three, we move on to phase four: QA testing and launch preparations. In this phase, the Solution Agency development team will do a thorough review of all the website pages and functionality. Looking specifically for UI/UX issues that need to be addressed before the website launches.

QA testing involves a manual process of clicking around every single page of the website, testing all contact forms, search functionality, plugins, and other third-party integrations. Anything an actual viewer on your website might do – we test it to make sure it works correctly. We also test the website on a variety of popular modern devices, browsers, and screen sizes to ensure that the experience remains consistent for every type of user.

During phase four we review site performance, utilizing Google developer performance and speed testing tools to assure that our websites meet current performance standards. 

At the end of phase four, we work with our digital marketing team to ensure that the SEO basics (as listed in your SOW) are met before the site launches. This might include items like:

  • Connecting Google Analytics
  • Connecting Google Search Console
  • Basic on-page SEO optimizations:
    • Meta titles
    • Meta descriptions
    • Alt tags on images
    • H structure
  • Set up any 301 redirects as needed
  • Configuration of Yoast SEO plugin

Once our development team has completed the QA phase, we then pass the website on to the client for a final review before we take the website live.

Phase 5: Launch

The launch is the most exciting phase for most clients – this is when our development team takes your website live on the internet for the world to see. 

A lot can go into a launch process – and each site is different – so we won’t be detailing all of the launch steps in this article. However, you can expect a couple of things after we have launched your new website including:

  • Immediate installation of SSL certificate
  • Submission of final sitemap to Google Search Console
  • Final review of website functionality and 301 redirects, immediate fix of any post-launch issues.
  • A 2-hour virtual WordPress training for your team to make website content updates (if requested)

What if I don’t need a full development project? What other development services does your team offer?

We’re happy you asked – our development team also handles support requests and ongoing website support services.

Support Requests & On-Going Support Services

What is website support?

Anything from an existing client regarding a site we made for them (or one we inherited). This could be a report of an issue, a request for a new page, a request for a menu change, content changes, etc.

What is the most crucial aspect to successful support services?

Communication. We always aim to let a client know an estimate, target start/end date, and any potential challenges we anticipate. Communication is key to a successful support relationship.

How does our development team manage support services?

We have a quick 30-min huddle every morning to make sure that our team is always aligned on support request timelines, and to review new support requests that come in. We use project management software to track the hourly progress, from estimate to confirmation, and that the request is completed as expected. 

Every new approved task (or set of tasks) is entered into our project management software as a new support project. This allows budgets, due dates, and notifications to be set on a granular project level. This provides a system for making sure that nothing gets lost in the shuffle and allows for easy billing transparency (something our clients enjoy!).

Support requests are a shared responsibility that our entire development team takes on. Our goal is to get tasks in and out efficiently and correctly. With clearly defined estimates, start and stop dates – our clients always know what to expect from our development support services so they can plan accordingly.

The Development Solution You’ve Been Waiting For

We believe in our processes, and tools – but what makes our development team a success is the people on it. Our combined experience and ability to work in unison as a cohesive team is what sets our web development services apart from the rest.

Ready to get started on your next development project? Need some development support? We’ve got the solution you need – from big to small our developers can tackle it all – connect with our team today.