Website Development is the process of creating a website. It could be a personal website, a business website, or a corporate website. Website development involves planning, creating, and publishing the website.
The process of website development consists of a few major steps: brief, content, design, build, testing, implementation, and maintenance.
The brief is easily the most important part of the website development process, this first step involves creating a formal document for the requirements of a website. Usually the developer or development agency will request information from the client and lead this process to make sure everything they require is covered.
During the briefing process is the easiest time to make changes to website requirements, while changes are possible at any point in the process, making changes to an already implemented website may be more time consuming and in effect more expensive.
It is in the best interest of both parties to make sure that a lot of effort goes into the briefing stage as time invested here is always time saved later.
Websites are primarily made up of pages and subpages of related content. These may be service pages about what you do, product descriptions of what you sell or articles related to your industry.
When working on content the first thing to write is your page sitemap, this is just a hierarchical list of each of your page titles. It will provide the scaffolding for your entire project.
Once you have your sitemap it will be possible to flesh out each of those page titles into an actual Word or Google Docs article. This will give you full control over what you are saying across your entire website to ensure consistency and a common goal.
The design phase, during which the website is conceptualized and planned. The designer creates the basic framework of the website, including the flow and the look and feel. This is only possible after the content is finalised.
The design stage is one of the most exciting stages for clients as it’s where the hard work of briefing and planning start to come to life. If the brief and communication has been good this should meet the client expectations exactly or very closely.
In reality clients will often give feedback or tweaks to bring the vision closer in line with the idea they had in mind.
It is unlikely that all pages will be designed, generally a few major pages or templates will be designed by which the rest of the website can be pieced together at the build stage.
The build stage is taken care of by the developers, this generally happens behind the scenes where the actual website is crafted to match what has been designed.
Once the developers are happy that the website is in line with the designs they will generally present the whole website in one go, although this may not always be the case, for larger sites or those with various features developers may present these individual components for feedback during the build process.
The build process is the most time intensive, it is worth noting that late changes made during or after the build are likely to be the most expensive way to introduce such changes, so it is very important to try to avoid this as much as possible.
With all the best intentions in the world by both parties, it may not always be possible to plan away all obstacles so it would be sensible to schedule in an overspend to your budget to account for these changes.
The next step is testing. This step is necessary to make sure the website is working and is free from glitches. While testing happens continuously during the build phase the focus is on creating the working functionality, rather than explicitly looking for edge cases and ways to break the website.
Testing is a critical part of the development process for creating a robust and reliable website. Websites that launch without testing may be temprelemental or prone to issues.
Once the general website has been built and tested, it is then implemented. This is often done using a Content Management System or a website builder like WordPress. Your developers will build the website as a set of templates and usable components, so the final step is to go through and populate all of the content to match your sitemap and designs.
This is often done by the development team, however if you are going to manage the content of the website on your own after launch it is very likely the development team will want to teach you how to use the system and therefore may ask you to implement your own content to get the practice in. They will be on standby to help in order to make sure that once the website is totally handed over you will be comfortable in the long term.
Lastly, the maintenance phase includes monitoring the performance of the website and updating it as needed.
Maintenance is critical to keep your website running smoothly and securely, whilst also meeting the ever moving goal posts of marketing requirements and search engine optimization requirements. Maintenance can also include minor feature development or usability improvements to keep the website current continuously rather than requiring periodic total redesigns.
The website development process should be handled by your agency or freelancer, they will generally have their own process which can be a slight variant of the steps we have outlined.
Whoever ends up taking on your website project will do their best to ensure that you have the support and understanding throughout all stages of the process. Working together will lead to a final better product that you will be proud of.