Developing a Web Project (Text Version)

Below is the text version for the fourth podcast in the Introduction to Standards Podcast, Developing a Web Project.

Welcome to the Introduction to Standards Podcast. I'm Elizabeth Spencer, and today I'll be talking about the steps you need to go through to start a new Web site or a major redesign. You can read more about this under Web Project Management, under Process and Approvals. This will cover Phases 2 through 5.

So! A few months ago, we talked about how to start a Web project. To see the full process, please review that podcast—"How to start a Web Project" and, after you've done all those steps, start from here.

The other podcast covered starting a project. By the time you're done with that, you should have gotten approval from the Project Review Team, and you should have a charter, a task list, and schedule.

Now it's time to do the hard work!

Phase Two: Content!

It's crucial to plan out your content as well as you can.

A lot of people like to do their navigation first, to create the "bins" the content goes in, and then write all the content. Don't do that!  On EERE, we like to go the other way: Write all the content you know you need. Then organize it based on what you have.

This way, you don't end up with lopsided content, where you have placeholder navigation for content you'd like to have, but don't.  Instead, we prefer that you write first and organize to what you have. You can always expand and change your site later!

So first, write your content. It's good to submit your content to the EERE Information Architect, if you have time—she can help you learn how to optimize it to work with search engines.

Then get all your other pieces together: Images, animations, whatever you have. And finally, once you have your site's content complete, create your final navigation.

That's it for the content phase.

At the end of this phase, you need to get two approvals. The Project Review Team, or PRT, will meet with you to discuss the project plans, and give you approval to start coding. Send your navigation to the Web Template Coordinator to get approval for your final navigation.

Phase Three: Coding!

It's time to code your site!

Before you start, figure out who's coding your site: Is it NREL, EES, or another contractor? The PRT should make this clear.

First, prepare your graphics. They need to meet our graphic standards. On Communication Standards, go to "Web Technical Guidelines" and then to "Graphics." Whoever prepares your graphics will need to follow these guidelines. (Make sure someone wrote alt text for them all, too!)

Next, make sure your content is ready to go to a developer. So make sure it can be read easily"accept all "Track Changes" in your documents. Make sure your coder can tell which pages are new, which are being updated, and keep content on different pages clearly separate from each other.

Now send your content and graphics together, as a bundle, to the developers.

Then your contractor will code! It'll end up on the development server, and you can review it when it's there.

Now it's time to schedule QAs!

Phase 4! Approval and Publishing!

So, the content is on development. This is a good time to get the last check from your Program. Once they're happy, it's time to go through the last steps!

After it's on development, it has to get a QA—a Quality Assurance check. This will make sure everything meets standards. The QAer will check everything, and give you a list of things that need to be fixed before the site can go live. Once you have these changes, make them.

Once you think you're ready to go live, it's time for one more meeting with the PRT. Tell them that everything's ready to go. Then they'll give you the final blessing!

Once all changes are made and everyone's happy, it's time to send it live.

And now for the next phase. Yes, there's one more phase.

Phase Five: Maintenance!

I know, once you send a site live, the project feels like it's done. It's not, though!  Web sites are living things. You have to keep your content updated and improve it over time. This is called "maintenance."

All sites need a maintenance plan. Communication Standards has a simple Maintenance Plan under Web Project Management > "Maintenance Plans" that can help you decide what to review and how often. Things like how often you run link checks or how often you review content.

You have options to improve your site. You might want to do Usability Testing on your new site to identify problem areas—places where users are confused, or things that can be improved.

Also, standards change over time. Keep up to date with Communication Standards, attend Web Coordinator meetings, and stay abreast of what everyone in EERE is doing! You  might want to improve your site along those lines, too.

But in general, the Web is always changing, and your site should be, too! Always look for ways to improve your content.

And that's that! Basically: Get approvals from the PRT to start your project. Then write your content. Get approval from the PRT and code your site. Get a QA, make your final changes, and go to the PRT. Then send it live, and plan to keep it up to date after it goes live.

That's it! Now you know how to get a site made on EERE or develop a new redesign.

In our next podcast, we'll be talking about social media—what's available, how you can use these tools on your site, and how and where you can contribute to EERE's growing social media network. See you next time!