Optima thrive on creating engagement with online audiences – it’s how the success of every website is measured.
We achieve this by delivering thought-through creativity that helps rather than hindering the user journey. We have all the skills in house to achieve anything we can imagine and that relies on us having a talented and motivated development team. We have built close to 150 technically strong websites over the past 20 years which continue to evolve and develop today. As standard, Optima build websites that are:
- Bespoke, well designed and technically sound
- Hand-coded, unique and fit for purpose, not comprised of re-used templates
- Mobile responsive
- Content managed, allowing clients to update the site in real-time with content and imagery
- Monitored for effectiveness using Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager as well as industry-standard SEO tools (as a result our websites evolve to meet the true needs of their users)
- Built with search engine optimisation (SEO) best practices from the outset (semantic well-structured HTML, copywriting for web, human and search readable URLs, carefully considered page titles, next-gen image formats, lazy loading, advanced caching and compression, XML sitemap)
- Compliant to W3C’s Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Disability Discrimination Act. We are dedicated to web standards and the latest techniques
- Managed in a Version Control system to create a code revision history to track changes and allow changes to be rolled back with ease
- Compliant with all current Data Protection and Cookie Legislation
- We build websites with maximum flexibility so that they can grow and develop and are able to respond to the changing digital environment
- Future proof, as all websites need to evolve (our hand coded, tailored approach allows easy future moulding)
- We also build a matching staging site that you can populate, test new styles and initiatives on.
The ten steps to your new website:
The beginning of any website project involves a collaborative process. Optima work closely with clients to develop a shared understanding of their business objectives and user needs. We listen, absorb, and reflect on what you tell us. We ask lots of questions and challenge preconceptions, and we will always bring new possibilities and ideas to the table based on our experience and skills.
By fully understanding your brand proposition and all the moving parts that make up your website project, we can recommend different approaches that allow you to connect with your audiences. We will decide with you which content management system best suits your needs, whether that is ExpressionEngine, WordPress or something else.
Optima are confident communicators comfortable with leading creative ideation and planning sessions. We come to the table with an open mind but will contribute to the dialogue with our experiences, thoughts, and observations.
Scoping and specification
Optima undertake research that, depending on your needs, may include UX workshops with different stakeholders and users, a review of analytics and competitor analysis. During this phase, all the resources and requirements needed to build the website are detailed and aligned with user and business strategies and objectives.
The scoping process also uncovers any content strategies, performance, accessibility and SEO practices which need to be discussed and implemented as part of the website project.
Our website specification documents bring together all the information needed to deliver a website project on time and within budget. We identify the project team involved and points of contact. Most importantly, there is a detailed overview of the website goals and objectives, site scope, front and back-end development, data collection mechanisms and technical details. The specification document is the plan which keeps everyone focused on the agreed deliverables throughout the project journey.
Optima visualises a website structure using a detailed sitemap as part of the specification process. The sitemap is used in the website planning phase to determine how the website is organised and information is prioritised. Quite often, the sitemap process will start with the tried and tested method of moving groups of post-it notes around on a wall until we have the basis of a website structure.
As the process develops, we create a detailed digital sitemap demonstrating the different page types we will build to display information throughout the website and the points where the website will capture information.
The sitemap process considers how users interact with the website and how the system responds to these interactions. An SEO audit, strategy, and consideration of the customer journey through different digital touch points underpin this process.
Optima creates ‘skeleton’ page plans for each website that show the arrangement of elements and content on different devices. These plans are essential to understanding site navigation, the responsive grid, and the priorities of different content. We refer to these skeleton plans as ‘wireframes’ as they demonstrate the website architecture underlying the visual design.
Wireframes are visual plans, pretty basic at this stage, but explore the possibilities of web page layouts. They allow proper consideration of grids and content placement, calls to action and conversion mechanisms without the distraction of design elements, colour and imagery. This approach makes it easier to focus on the fundamental building blocks that make up a page. We use a ‘mobile first’ approach to wireframing and ensure that decisions around content and functionality for mobile and tablet responsive layouts are considered from the outset rather than an afterthought.
Web design concepts
Building on the previous steps, Optima designs stunning websites that develop a distinctive online presence for your brand. We ensure the design approach fits your website and business objectives and reflect your vision and values. We consider how the design enhances user experience and creates memorable associations with your brand.
Our initial concepts explore a couple of design routes and options for how key pages might look and UI elements like navigation, fonts, graphics, icons and data visualisation. We’ll create innovative ways to display information through bespoke content blocks. Our process balances creative front-end web design with back-end functionality, user needs, accessibility considerations and UX design conventions. We consider using different media to promote your message, device-specific adaptations, and corresponding load times, which could affect search engine rankings. Everything is properly joined-up throughout the design process.
06 Website development and build
We share website sections for review at key stages throughout the web development and build process using a project-specific website staging area.
Optima provides clients with CMS training, support, and a reference manual to enable them to populate the new website with content. We demo all the features within the website, empowering clients to take control and become familiar with their newly designed site whilst it is on Optima’s staging server, hidden from search engines and the world.
Once the site has been populated with content, we tidy up any formatting issues and ensure it looks and functions perfectly for users. Then it is ready for final review and edits before getting the green light to go live!
Optima complete a high level of testing before websites are deployed. Our code is rigorously tested across the main browsers and devices, and any bugs are addressed. The code is rigorously tested in the latest three versions of Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft and Safari browsers and across multiple iOS and Android devices.
We also test website functionality, such as forms and data capture and do a final proofread, ensuring no placeholder content is visible before it is presented to the world.
Optima coordinates website launches in collaboration with client teams to ensure a smooth and timely transition. Pre-launch, we confirm we have the necessary details to deploy the website to a client's server or in the server space we provide from our trusted UK providers. We are proud of the websites we launch, and each go-live is celebrated by ringing a bell in the office!
Our go-live process – the techy bit:
- Dedicated server space is configured to the needs of the website before website’s database and files are deployed.
- Pre-flight checks are performed once the website is installed on the new server.
- SSL certificates are applied to the domain.
- XML sitemaps are checked, and Google Analytics, Tag Manager and Search Console are set up to track user interactions and conversions.
- The CMS is configured to log user interactions such as form submissions and site search terms.
- Redirects are prepped to send old page URLs to their new counterparts.
- The IP address is aligned with the chosen domain name(s), and propagation around the internet begins. The propagation typically takes between 1 and 24 hours before the website is visible worldwide.
Optima’s hosting option is through one of our UK-based fully managed cloud hosting partners with regular security reviews and patches rolled out for any vulnerabilities and high availability guaranteed Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Our hosting partners operate out of UK-based ISO 27001 certified data centres. 24 x 7 on-site support and service are also included as standard.
Our hosting includes full secure encrypted backups taken daily, with a retention period of 7 days. The website code is managed in a version control environment, which means that all changes are documented and accountable. An up-to-date copy of the code is held in our version control repository, separate from the server and backup, as an extra level of security. This means that Optima can quickly restore the website if for any reason it is required.
09 Website maintenance
Optima will monitor and tweak newly launched websites for the first month after go-live to ensure optimum performance and that they are working effectively. Beyond this, we offer a range of maintenance packages which enable us to continue to update the site and monitor site health as it develops and grows alongside digital technologies.
Optima have maintenance packages available in four plans varying from 2-40 hours per month. Maintenance packages guarantee studio and development time for:
- Ongoing CMS updates
- Investigating and reporting website errors as a result of content management system updates, add-ons and plug-ins
- Investigating third-party providers’ issues, including payment gateways, Google Maps, etc.
- Fixing browser glitches in Optima’s standard list of supported browsers
- Editing existing page templates
- Editing graphics
- Small modifications to functionality
- SEO and performance improvements, including external factors such as link building, as well as internal on-page parameters
- Provision of telephone support with website developers.
More significant website development or feature requests fall outside of the maintenance contract agreement and are costed separately. Full details of our maintenance packages are available on request.
Optima can assist with promoting your website to ensure it is discoverable and remains visible to your audiences. We offer various digital marketing services to support this, including SEO, pay-per-click, digital advertising, content marketing and email marketing.
Search Engine Optimisation is an effective way to drive visitors to your site. SEO starts with reviewing and editing your website’s text content to target keywords prospective visitors might use in search engines. SEO also relies on setting up good backlinks from other websites, social media integration, schema markup, optimised page load times and meta descriptions. All of these SEO tactics can boost website performance. Optima can help with all aspects of SEO and additional digital marketing services tailored to your audience and requirements.Find out more about our digital marketing services