Phases of the Web Site Design and Development Process
There are quite a few steps involved in the designing and development phase of a website. Whether it is information collection or website design creation or keeping the website updated to maintain consistency – every step requires a strategic approach to ensure success.
The steps may vary slightly from designer to designer or developer to developer, but the basic processes involved remain the same.
- Information Gathering
- Testing and Delivery
Step 1: Information Gathering
This is the first step of creating a successful design for your website. In order to figure out the correct look and feel of your website, collecting certain information about its purpose is important. A sound understanding of the company, its products and services, its target audience, business goals, budget (www.logicsofts.co.uk
/">cheap web design) vision and how the web can be used to realize those aims is needed. Thus, it is only natural and is needed that your designer starts by asking as many questions as possible thereby ruling out all chances of confusion and ambiguity.
The factors that must be considered are:
- Purpose - The purpose of the site: providing information, promoting a service, selling a product?
- Goals - Goal of the web site: what are the goals of the website besides making money or sharing information?
- Target Audience - Who do you intend to serve through this website? It often helps to imagine the ‘ideal’ person to visit your web site; think of their age, sex or interests – all these will influence design and style of your site.
- Content - What kind of information is target audience seeking on your site? Is it specific information, a particular product or service, online ordering?
Step 2: Planning
This is the phase where all the information that has been gathered is used to create the site map which, in turn, helps in planning the website.
The site map includes a clear list of all main topic areas of the site and sub-topics, if applicable. A plan is formulated which applies to the content, design and navigation system of the site. The clients’ perspective and their needs must always be the priority when designing the site as they are the ones who will avail information from the site and/ or get the products and services. This is the basis for a solid interface which helps to create an easy navigational system.
It is during this phase that the designer must advice you on what technologies should be used to develop the site. The implementation of certain technologies will also influence the development process to a certain extent.
Step 3: Design
Once the basic look of your website has been planned, it is now time to get the look and feel of the site correct based on the information that has been gathered.
The target audience should always be kept in mind when designing a website. A website aimed at children will look a lot different than one aimed at teenagers. A website aimed at photographers will likewise look different from the site aimed at doctors. In order to strengthen the brand image of the company through the website, the colors and logo of your company must be used.
Typically designers create a few mock ups for the website in a .jpg format and you receive a mail from them regarding this. Mot designers give you a look at these potential designs while some take it a step further by enabling you to visit a secure area of the site where the message ‘Work in Progress’ is visible by your customers.
It is very important that your designers provide you with constant updates about the designing and development of your website. This will allow you to inform the designers and developers about your likes and dislikes and have the changes incorporated in the design.
Communicate regularly with your designer during this stage of the designing process as steady communication will ensure that your website ends up looking just how you envisioned. Exchange of ideas between you and your designer is vital till you reach the final stages of the process.
It is now time for the development to begin…
Step 4: Development
It is in this stage that the web designer takes each of the individual graphic elements from the prototype and makes an actual, functional site out of them.
First the home page is developed which is then followed by a “shell” for the interior pages. The shell pages serve as a framework for the content of the website while the navigation system is finalized. After the shell is created, the designer posts the contents in all the appropriate areas making the website almost complete. Certain facets like CMS (content management system) like WordPress, interactive contact forms, or ecommerce shopping carts are also made functional during this phase.
During this process too, you must be kept in loop by your designer. You can make suggestions about additional changes or corrections you would like to incorporate in the website.
Ideally, on the technological front, front-end web development should be used. This would require writing valid HTML / CSS code in accordance to current web standards, maximizing functionality, as well as to facilitate accessibility for the maximum number of people possible.
Testing is done in the next phase…
Step 5: Testing and Delivery
In this phase begins the testing process when your designer tests certain aspects of your website like complete functionality of forms or other scripts, compatibility issues (viewing differences between different web browsers). They try to ensure that the web site is optimized to be viewed properly in the most popular web browsers.
A web designer/ developer must always stay updated about the latest standards of web design and development. The technologies currently in vogue are HTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). It must be checked whether all the codes of the website validate or not. Valid code ensures that the site abides by all the latest web development standards.
Your designer will get ready to deliver the site once you have given your final approval. An FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program is used to upload the files to your server. In case your designer does not offer domain name registration and hosting services, they will give you suggestions about the best service providers. After account creation and uploading of files, the site is put through a final run through as a precautionary measure to ensure that all the files have been uploaded properly. Then the site continues to be fully functional.
Some other final details encompass plugin installation (for WordPress or other CMS driven web sites and SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO refers to the optimization of the web site with elements such as title, description and keyword tags that fetches higher rankings in the search engines. The aforementioned code validation is something that plays a vital role in SEO, as well. There are quite a few WordPress plugins available that further improve the default WordPress functionality and many of these works to improve the SEO as well.
With the completion of this step, your site becomes visible to the public.
Step 6: Maintenance
However, the development process of your website still has a little more to go. One process of attracting new visitors to your website and keeping the existing ones interested is by offering newer and more interesting content. Most designers will be happy to work with you and may even offer maintenance packages at reduced rates. The rates will generally depend on how often you often you would want to make changes to your website.
In case you want to update your own content, CMS (Content Management System) such as WordPress can be implemented to your web site. This, though, has to be decided during the planning stage. CMS will help your designer to utilize online software and develop a database driven site.
CMS enables you to edit the content areas of the web site yourself. With access to the back-end administrative area, you can easily use an online text editor and edit existing content and also add new pages and content. Whether you want to have all the control to make updates to the web site on your own or you prefer to hand off the web site entirely to the designer/developer, is completely up to you.
Other maintenance types encompass regular site backups, WordPress upgrades, additional plugin installation, etc.
Ready to Design (or Re-Design) Your Web Site?
Make sure that your web designer and developer follow a similar methodology. Maintain good working relationship with your designer and developer via proper communication in order to ensure that the website of your liking is created.