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A website project is not only a work of art, it's a carefully crafted product customized for the exact purposes of the website owner to showcase products, services or brand. There are numerous steps in the website design and development process.
Note: there is an updated article with much more details, please make sure you check out our website development strategy article.
Many things need to be taken into consideration when designing a website, that's why in the beginning is good to sit down with all the persons involved and discuss as many issues as you can. This means that if the usage and operation of the website involves sales, inventory management, and accounting then all these departments should be involved in the whole process. Knowing the purpose, goals, the target audience and the kind of content of the site, will help the software service provider to understand the client needs and make the best decisions. For this you should consider some aspects:
What is the purpose of the site? What defines your bsuiness and how do you wnat to represent it on the website? What kind of website will it be: an online store, corporate blog, portfolio... ?
What do you want to achieve by building this website? The most common goals are either to share information or make money.
Is there a specific group of people that will help you reach your goals? It is helpful to picture the “ideal” person you want to visit your web site. Consider their age, sex or interests – this will help to determine the best design style for the website.
What your target audience will be looking for on your site? What appeals to their needs and desires? Are they looking for specific information, service or product…?
With the information gathered the designer team will create a sitemap of the website – a list of all main subject areas of the site, as well as sub-subjects. Sitemap is essential to develop the site and will help to understand better the navigation system.
Also in this phase will be decided which features and technologies will be implemented in the website - interactive forms, parallax animation, search engine, discount features, social media feed, etc.
Based in the target audience, the purpose of the website and the brand guidelines, the designers will create a prototype of the website. Target audience is one of the key factors taken into consideration here. A site aimed at teenagers, for example, will look much different than one meant for a corporate institution or an online store. The client will review the design and give constructive feedback.
In this phase, communication is crucial to guarantee that the final website will match the needs of the client. The designer and the client will work together, exchanging ideas, until they arrive at the final design for the site. Once the final design of the website is approved, the developers can start working.
This is where the web site itself is created. The development team starts transforming the approved design into working website. Also in this phase the content provided by the client will be distributed and organized throughout the site, in the appropriate areas.
Various testing sessions will happen at the end of this stage to ensure the quality of the final work. The team will test things such as the complete functionality of forms or other scripts, test for last minute compatibility issues (viewing differences between different web browsers), ensuring that the site is optimized to be viewed properly in the most recent browser versions.
Once the final version of the website is approved, it is time to deploy the site. Tested final work will be deployed to the server at the data center, ready for real-live usage. This marks the official launch of your site, as it is now viewable to the public. With this the creation process is completed.
The proper documentation and backend admin are handed over to the customer. On-site training sessions can be held according to the details and requirements set in the project's contract.
A good website isn’t a one-time event, but rather an extensible communication tool that requires regular updates to stay valuable, relevant and compelling for visitors. The maintenance plan should clarify roles and responsibilities for every aspect of the website.
Launching a website is a first step in the long process to promote your services, products or brand. Social media and online communities are great sources to generate inbound traffic, improve conversion rate, better SEO ranking, brand awareness, etc.
Creating and launching a new website is a big accomplishment. There are countless hours that go into designing, coding, reviewing, testing, and publishing a website. Once you’ve built a great website, keep the momentum going. Devote resources to regular maintenance, and check in with visitors regularly to identify areas for improvement.