The Ders Group is a Property Development/Management company based out of North Liberty, IA. In need of a client facing website that would draw in business from around the area, they contacted us with the project.
In our initial meeting, we decided together that the site’s “must haves” included:
- Modern yet simple design
- Straight forward navigation
- Easy to find contact information
- Functionality that enables them to easily update the site themselves
- Page to display both corporate and residential properties that they manage
- Page to display previously completed projects
- Page to introduce the “The Crew” that comprises The Ders Group
Of course, in addition to these deliverable items, there are also several technical items that must be included in this “must have” list such as:
- Search Engine Optimization
- Domain Registration
- Backup (files and database)
- Image Optimization
These are standard procedures in completing a successful Web Development Project that a client may or may not be aware of. It is our job to bring light to these important objectives and how we will go about delivering on them.
Having come away from the initial meeting with an outline of the clients expectations, it was time to wire-frame and document the necessary work that would go into this project with an estimate of the hours that it would take to complete.
Our contract contains a price quote, the deliverables that are expected of each party, and a description of the project details such as:
- Summary of the project to be completed
- An overview of everything the site will include
- When the the project will be considered “complete”
- Timeline to “go live” with the website
- Who owns what when the project goes live (copyright)
- Website files
- Text content
- How payment will be handled
- Milestones and project phases that are set in place
- When payment is required
Once the contract is signed and returned we begin designing the website. It is typical to go through a few iterations before settling on a design. Once a design is agreed upon by all parties it is time to start chopping up the design and developing the actual code for the website.
For this project, we agreed that WordPress would be a good fit. WordPress is a CMS (content management system) that will allow The Ders Group to easily update and maintain their own website. We developed a custom WordPress Theme from scratch with various custom plugins that would allow them to manage their properties and projects. With all of this in place it is time to move on to some of the “dirty work” required to complete this project.
We make sure that the SEO (search engine optimization) is done correctly so that we will be properly listed in the search engines. This is an important step, because without correct SEO, the public may not even know you are there!
Being a WordPress site, there are many things that we can do to optimize the security of our website. We go through a checklist of all issues that need to be addressed and take care of them one by one. Security is a huge concern in today’s ever evolving world of technology so we make sure this is top priority.
If anything ever goes awry with the website, we keep daily backups of both the files as well as the database. This way we can easily restore a website in minutes. This comes in handy especially when the client has the ability to update the website. Things sometimes get accidentally altered, so instead of weeding through many lines of code to figure out the root cause of a bug, we can just load a previous backup of the website when it was in good standing and continue making updates from there.
For all of our projects, we utilize the Google Analytics platform. It is standard and easy to use. Google Analytics allows us to view an endless number of statistics about our traffic and where it is coming from. It is extremely helpful in gaining insight as to how our site is performing.
Clients will provide most of their own images, most times not being optimized very well for the web. Whether that means too large of a pixel ratio (slowing down load times), or if the image needs to be optimized in Photoshop before being uploaded to the site. This step helps the site load faster as well as appear more professional.
During the time that I was completing these previous “behind-the-scenes” tasks, I had given the guys at The Ders Group some homework. I showed them how to log into their Admin site to update all of their content including images, properties, projects and biography’s. This is a good way for the client to get acquainted with the Content Management System.
Once they had the content just how they wanted, we went over the site one more time. Pointing out small things that will help them in future updates on their site.
At this point, all parties are satisfied with the work done and we are ready to go live! Since The Ders Group had already registered their own domain name (www.thedersgroup.net), all we had to do was point their domain name at our in-house servers and we were all set! Just before going live, we go through all functionality one more time, testing everything to make sure nothing is broken and all functionality performs as intended. The way we develop our themes in house, we test responsiveness and functionality along the way in development so there is not as much testing needed at the end, but it is always a good idea to test everything one last time for browser compatibility and responsiveness.
There is continued monitoring of the site along with it’s analytics to make sure all pages are indexed with the search engines and everything is working correctly. The job is never done, but that is the fun part! Watching the traffic stream in from search engines and social media sites and actually experiencing conversion from that traffic!
TheDersGroup.net was an awesome project to work on. Not only did we have a great design to build upon, but the client was second to none in terms of responsiveness and professionalism! It was a pleasure to work on this project alongside Alex, Nick, and Scott Andersen and I look forward to doing future business with this company!