Developing a website isn’t much different than building a house. In order to do so, experts in engineering, design/architecture, project management, creative and development must work together to understand and achieve specific goals.
First let us discuss the three critical phases of a website development that get us to the point of development and themeing. While the importance of these phases are sometimes overlooked, or discounted, each step is crucial to the success of your website and marketing efforts. Overlooking or under planning in the initial phases of a website development will lead to a mediocre website at best, or even complete failure to achieve your business goals.
PHASE 1 : Discovery
The initial phase for building a successful website is discovery and planning. Through several weeks/months of interviews, site audits, marketing research and brainstorming, we gather as much information as possible about the project. This process helps the team identify project goals and objectives, document users and their goals, research competitors, assess technical risk and obtain existing assets such as creative briefs, branding guidelines, logos, brochures and site analytics reports. If this process is done correctly, a well-defined project blueprint should evolve from the information you gather which includes:
- Business and user goals and objectives that align the project
- A list of identified users and each task they would like to perform on the website
- A creative/brand brief
- A technical brief with server recommendations
- Competitor analysis
- Marketing research and recommendations
While we’ve used this process for several years, we constantly evaluate it for efficiency and to keep up with industry changes. Mobility has played a major role in many of our changes.
PHASE 2 : Architecture
Once the blueprint has been established, a user experience architect begins wire framing the site architecture based on information gathered during the discovery process. There are several tools (OmniGraffle, Balsamiq, etc) that can help with this process. Many uses Axure, which is an interactive wire framing tool. Axure allows us to rapidly create online prototypes to show the structure of a website, custom user paths, important user interface elements and their position and relationship between web pages. This process involves:
- Developing an organized, easy to understand navigation and workflow for the users of the website
- Ensuring our layouts respond to mobile environments
- Gathering feedback from development and marketing teams to ensure the front and back-end architecture can be properly constructed
- Review meetings with client to ensure the structural components are accounted for and align with business goals
- Creating finalized wireframes from which designers and developers can build a website.
PHASE 3 : Concept Design
While wireframes are being completed by the experience architect, one should leverages the creative brief, brand schematic and project branding guidelines from the strategy document to begin shaping the overall tone of the website.
Main objective during this process is to set creative expectations, which gives the design team a better direction for competitive designs. We’ve found that this process also saves time during the creative process as it provides a very clear direction at a fraction of the time of creating full design concepts.
Pulling It All Together
If your process has not changed for several years, I can guarantee you need to assess and refine it. Technology changes quickly and with those changes come updates to business and project processes. LevelTen evaluates its process every two weeks and discusses ways to improve based on technical and environmental challenges.
Doing this opens dialog between team members so that you can create better products, more efficiently to provide better value to your customers.
Now, Let us know about the uses of development tools that you need to pickup for website development.
Uses of Development Tools:
1. Making Program Information Available to Humans
The high complexity of an application makes it difficult to understand a whole program at a glance.
Programming tools allow developers to find bugs in the programs they are working on and allows them to avoid creating new bugs when they are extending a program.
Such tools enable developers to properly envisage different kinds of information about the program they are working on.
2. Translation from Human Language to a Computer Language
Programing tools translate a program from a human-readable source language into a language that can be executed by a computer through a user interface.
Put simply, Web Development involves,
Developing a website for the World Wide Web or a private network also known as an intranet. Web Development includes the development of a single web page or complex web-based Internet apps, electronic businesses and social network services.
Website Development is a process that involves an intricate series of steps. Time and money are two important factors that determine how much time a general website development process may take.
However, on average, the web development process consists of five to eight steps.
- Ideation and Information Gathering
- Planning: Sitemap and Wireframe Creation
- Design: Page Layouts, Review, and Approval Cycle
- Content Writing and Assembly
- Testing, Review, and Launch
- Maintenance: Opinion Monitoring and Regular Updating
1. Ideation and Information Gathering
The stage of Ideation is a stage that involves discovering and researching. This determines how the subsequent steps will look like.
At this point, it is necessary for a web developer to have a clear understanding of the purposes the website will be used for, the ultimate goals that the website aspires to achieve, and the target audience that the website aims for.
2. Planning: Sitemap and Wireframe Creation
Planning is that stage of the web development process where the developer creates the feel of the website that lets a client judge how the entire website will look like.
The sitemap is created based on the information that was gathered together in the previous phase.
The sitemap that is created in this stage should clearly describe the relationships between the home page and the other pages of the website. This helps understand the usability of the product. The sitemap makes it helps you judge how easily the web visitor can find the required information/service that he/she is searching for. The main reason why the sitemap is created is to build a website that is very user-friendly and easily navigable.
3. Design: Page Layouts, Review, and Approval Cycle
The design phase is one of the most important steps in the web development process. In this step, the website slowly takes shape. Visual content, such as images, pictures and videos are all created in the design phase of the web development process. During the designing phase, the needs and requirements of the client and the target audience must be considered at all times.
The website layout is the result of a designer’s work. The website layout can be a graphic sketch or an actual graphic design. The basic function of this website layout is to represent the information structure, visualize the content, and demonstrate the basic functionality. Layouts contain colors, logos, images and can give a general understanding of the future product.
After the website layout, the client reviews the layout and sends you his/her feedback. If the client is not satisfied with the website layout, the client can review the layout and send you his feedback. If the client is not sure about some aspects of your design, you should change the layout and send it back to him. This cycle should be repeated until the customer is completely satisfied.
4. Content Writing and Assembly
The phase of content writing and compiling generally overlaps with other phases of website creation. The importance of this phase cannot be underestimated.
It is necessary to write the essence that you’d like to communicate with the target audience. The phase of content writing also includes catching headlines, text editing, writing fresh text, compiling existing text, etc., which requires time and effort.
As a rule, the client undertakes to provide website content ready to migrate to the site. It is better when all website content is provided before or during website coding.
The coding phase is the phase where the website creation is started.
The graphical elements that had been designed in the previous phases are implemented to create an actual website.
The home page is created at the start followed by all sub-pages, according to the website hierarchy. Frameworks and CMS should be implemented to make sure that the server can handle the installation and set-up smoothly.
All static web page elements that were designed during the mock-up and layout creation should be created and tested. Then, special features and interactivity should be added. What’s necessary is a detailed understanding of each and every website development technology that is going to be used.
6. Testing, Review, and Launch
Testing is one of the more important steps of the web development process. The reason why it is so important is that every single link should be tested to make ensure that no broken links exist among them. Every form, the script should be checked to find every possible typo. Spell-checking software should also be run for this purpose. The use of code validators for checking if the code follows the current web standards is essential. Valid code is necessary, for example, if cross-browser compatibility is crucial for you.
After the checking and re-checking of the website, it is time to upload it to a server. The software used for this purpose is FTP that is an abbreviation for File Transfer Protocol. After you deploy the files, you should run yet another, final test to be sure that all your files have been installed correctly.
7. Maintenance: Opinion Monitoring and Regular Updating
A website is not a final product really. Owning a website is not enough for the client. Website Maintainance is essential.
A website is more of a service than a product. Thus, it is important that even after the creation of the website, everything works satisfactorily.
The presence of the feedback system that is added to the site allows you to detect the problems that end-users will face. The most important task is to fix the problem as fast as you can. In case the problems are not fixed, web visitors may prefer to use another website rather than put up with the inconvenience.
The other important thing is to keep your website up to date. If you use a CMS, regular updates will prevent you from bugs and decrease security risks.
A Web Development project doesn’t start with coding and stop with finally launching the website. A good website development company makes sure that all the above criteria are met.
The preparation stage affects all the succeeding stages after it, defining how productive the development process will be. The post-launch period is rather significant.
A web development project should be agile and flexible enough so that the possibility to change the website according to user feedback exists.
Thirumaniraj is primarily a developer. He is one of the specialists of Software development and services. He is well-versed in providing creative and services on various concepts of PHP, CMS, Designer, responsive, software development for professionals.