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Web ReDesign: Phase 4—Production and QA

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This sample chapter shows a phase of web design that is divided into three sections — Prepping, Building, and Testing — a production workflow aimed at keeping the project's HTML construction on track.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Production's goals are simple: No misinterpretation of user capabilities or project goals; create a website that looks and works the same for every user. No duplication of effort; code each HTML page only once.

Phase 4: Production and QA

With the legwork and planning of the site essentially completed, now is the time to create, implement, and integrate. Phase 4 is where the actual building happens. You have defined and structured the project and have developed a look and feel — here is where you put together all the pieces you have designed, planned, and gathered. If this were pie baking instead of web design, consider your fruit sliced, your ingredients measured, your oven preheated, and your crust shaped. After one more check of your recipe, you are ready to bake.

This phase is divided into three sections — Prepping, Building, and Testing — a production workflow aimed at keeping the project's HTML construction on track. Whether your budget is upwards of $100,000 or under $10,000, the steps delineated here work for all web projects — redesigns and initial designs alike. Either way, your goal is simple. No duplication of efforts. Code each HTML page only once.

WHAT THIS CHAPTER COVERS

Prepping

> Assessing Project Status

> Establishing Guidelines

> Setting File Structure

Building

> Slicing and Optimization

> Creating HTML Templates and Pages

> Implementing Light Scripting

> Populating Pages

>Integrating Backend Development (if Applicable)

Testing

> Understanding Quality Assurance Testing

> Creating a QA Plan

> Prioritizing and Fixing Bugs

> Conducting a Final Check

Assessing Project Status

Before production actually starts, take a moment to review the project's status. Did the scope increase? Is the project on budget? Has the all-important content arrived? And is your team ready for the production task ahead?

Right here at the beginning of the production phase we must address an important fact: The web is driven by HTML. We assume that you or someone on your team has an understanding of the HTML process, either through pure hand-coding using BBEdit or Allaire's Homesite or the like, or by using a WYSIWYG editor such as Adobe GoLive, Macromedia Dreamweaver, or Microsoft FrontPage. Here's the burning question: What is the level of that understanding?

Reassess your HTML production team's capabilities now that you know the true extent of the design and technical requirements, and if you are not qualified to make the assessment, find someone who is. Coordinating web production takes both ability and experience. Depending on your team's level of expertise, you will need to determine the true level of complexity that the site production can handle. For example, if you are creating a 20- to 40-page brochure site with light JavaScript, you can probably get away with using a WYSIWYG editor. If the site is more complex — intricate tables and/or frames usage, additional scripting and/or DHTML implementation — you will need to have the knowledge to troubleshoot problems along the way, which usually means utilizing people with a fluid understanding of HTML. This tends to call for people who can code pages by hand or who at least can read and understand the code well enough to tweak HTML and troubleshoot during the production process.

And before any coding truly begins, a final just-before-production-starts review of audience needs (browsers, screen size, connection speed), technology (plug-ins, scripting, backend needs), and redesign goals (download size, user experience goals) can only help. You will have to address complex questions about servers, directory structure, and the HTML production specifics that may have been left until this phase. The Client Spec Sheet will help.

Your goal? No misinterpretation of user capabilities or project goals. No backtracking. Code each HTML page only once.

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