Website projects are often complex and take different forms. To clarify the process and align expectations, here is a high level overview of what to anticipate throughout the lifecycle when building a new website at the University of Chicago.
Once a partner has been selected and the scope of work has been agreed upon, there are a number of meetings, activities, and milestones that will take place over the following several months. Here is an overview of what to focus on during each step of a website project.
It is important to gather all project participants to ensure that everyone is aligned on the website objectives, scope, budget, timeline, stakeholder responsibilities, University web policies, and any other project details.
Selecting a hosting provider early in the project is important as it will inform both development and budget. Hosting solutions recommended by UChicago can be reviewed to select the appropriate option.
It is important that all information associated with the website (site owner, vendor, platform, hosting solution, etc.) is updated through IT Services within the UChicago web registry
This is the research and analysis that will inform the website strategy and help define site requirements. Typical discovery work includes an audit of the current website, stakeholder interviews, user research, and competitor site analysis.
Site Architecture / Sitemap
A sitemap acts as a blueprint of the content architecture of the website. Depending on the size and sophistication of a website, a fully-detailed sitemap may include all pages and planned links.
Having the right content on a website requires a lot of planning. It is critical to map out content needs early in the project and clarify who will be finding, creating, migrating, and authoring each piece of content.
User Experience (UX)
User experience (UX) focuses on having a deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and also their limitations. It takes into account the business goals and objectives of the project stakeholders. UX best practices promote improving the quality of the user’s interaction with and perceptions of your organization and your website.
Before creating design concepts, wireframes are often used as a blueprint for the features to illustrate the features and navigational elements that will be included on a webpage. They are typically used to establish a hierarchy of information within the page.
Web Design / UI Design
Design concepts are used to demonstrate the unique visual elements within the page template. It is important to think about the design from both a desktop and mobile perspective. UChicago brand and digital accessibility guidelines are available for the web designer to reference.
Once design concepts are approved, the web development will begin. At this stage, code is written to bring the designs to life and to enable page authoring in the content management system (CMS).
Content Authoring and Migration
While some pages on the site may be fully designed, most will need to be populated with text and images in the CMS. After previewing a page, it can be published to a development or live environment. This phase can be quite time consuming and should be accounted for as such in project plans.
Conducting a rigorous quality assurance phase to test for errors and design flaws will result in a polished and well-maintained website prior to launch. Remember to test sites across multiple web browsers and devices.
Prior to launching the site, please work with the University Website Sr. Specialist to ensure that all UChicago security, brand, and digital accessibility standards have been followed properly.