The 6 Stages of the Website Development Process
There are millions and millions of websites, and someone had to make each one. Creating a website from scratch can be a daunting process, especially if you don’t have a well thought out website development process.
Think of it this way – the website is the face of your company. You want to make sure it is a good website that beats your competition and brings in your target audience. To do this, you need to implement a thorough web development process to ensure you hit every step.
What is the Website Development Process?
A detailed website development process outlines the steps needed from start to finish to create a website. The process should divide the work into small sub-sections that acts as a roadmap for the web development project. It lets you organize your thoughts and keep track of where you are in the process and what you have let to accomplish. This, in turn, helps you be faster and more efficient with creating websites.
For example, with Promotion LA, our website development process has over 25 main steps. Many steps have multiple sub-steps or even sub-sub steps.
However, keep in mind that not every agency uses the same extensive website development process. You should adapt the process so it best works for you, your company and your clients. Even then, not every process will be the same for every client. An e-commerce website will have different steps than an informative website.
Here are the six main stages of the website development process:
1. Information Gathering and Research
It might surprise you to know that the information gathering and research stage of the website development process is the most important stage. This determines the outcome of the other stages and how much work needs to be done. As mentioned before, an e-commerce website will have different steps than an informative website.
During this stage, you want to host a pre-development meeting where you can find out several details: who is the client? What is their company? What is the client’s goal for the website – to sell products, provide information or improve their brand? (Make sure the goals are felt throughout the entire website) How do they want the website to look? What is the website’s intended style? Who will be using the website?
Keep in mind that different target audiences mean different website functionalities, which means implementing different technologies throughout the website. For example, a pet store website will have a different style and function than a legal aid website.
At Promotion LA, we treat this stage as our chance to find out everything we can about the company and what they want to feature on their website. For example, our client Sunset Plaza wanted an interactive map displaying the stores available. Knowing exactly what the client wants from the beginning helps avoid any mistakes or unexpected issues, which ultimately saves time and money.
This is also the time to figure out any future endeavors for the website, such as blogs, updated web pages or maintenance.
The planning stage is when you want to start figuring out what web pages you will create and what features you want to use on the website. You also need to think about how everything will mesh together to create a final, solid product. A helpful tool for this is a sitemap.
Consider the sitemap as the foundation of the website. This is where you show the structure of the website and describe the relationship between the homepage and other website pages. The sitemap shows the hierarchy of page organization by listing the different webpages.
More importantly, a sitemap can show how user-friendly (or not user-friendly) the planned website might be. For example, if the pages are unorganized and make it difficult to find a specific page, you need to clean it up. The goal of every website is to be user-friendly and easily navigable.
Another product for this stage is a wireframe or mockup. This serves as a visual representation of the user interface you will create, but it doesn’t include any design elements. Instead, it describes how and where the elements will go on the finished website. The wireframe is a place to store the intended visual and content elements.
3. Content Creation
The next stage in the website development process is content creation. This is where the content writer creates the website content, which should engage readers and meet the company’s goals. For example, if the company’s goal is to get customers to buy products, that should be reflected in the written content.
The content writer should keep search engine optimization (SEO) and keywords in mind when writing content, so the webpage can achieve higher rankings in search engines.
At Promotion LA, we will go back and forth with a client as much as it takes before they are satisfied with their written website content.
This is when the website starts coming together aesthetically. The website developer creates the look and feel of the website while keeping the target audience in mind. The developer can use page layouts to visualize how each webpage will look regarding written and visual content. Make sure the visual content goes with the written content; the visual content should enhance the written convey and convey the company’s goal.
During this stage, high-quality, mobile-friendly pictures and videos should be created. Visual content helps increase website clicks and viewer engagement.
The developer should also look at themes, fonts, colors, logos, typography, buttons, menus and other aesthetic qualities.
Behind information gathering and research, this is the biggest part of the website development process. This is when the developer begins creating the website’s homepage and other pages, as well as bringing together all the written and visual content. Any add-ons (shopping carts, galleries, forms, email subscription, live chats, etc.) are created, too.
Any coding done should be valid and meet the current web standards.
The developer should have in mind which content management system (CMS) to use. At Promotion LA, we create all our clients’ websites through WordPress, which has dozens of plugins that let us develop the perfect websites.
6. Testing, Review and Launch of Website
The final stage of the website development process is the testing, review and launch of the website. By this stage, you should have a final website product. Now you must test and review it to make sure it is absolutely perfect before launching it.
Test the website and all its pages and forms for any broken links or spelling errors. The code should be correct and valid. Make sure the website runs smoothly and quickly.
Run functionality tests, usability tests, compatibility tests, performance tests, code validators, site crawlers and more. Look at how the website works on different web browsers.
Once the website passes these tests, show it to the client for approval. If the client has any issues, fix them. Once the website is approved, upload it to a permanent live server via file transfer protocol (FTP). Also, make sure any SEO is completed, such as meta description, titles, keywords, etc. The website should now be live and ready for viewers.
BONUS STEP: Maintenance
Once a website goes live, it isn’t really done. While the actual creation of the website can happen in several weeks, maintenance can occur in perpetuity.
It is vital to constantly maintain and update a website so you can get repeat visitors. If your website doesn’t work or there are problems on the webpages, visitors won’t return, so you should fix any issues immediately.
Keep the website up-to-date and avoid any bugs or security risks.
Promotion LA and Creating Websites
If the idea of creating a website sounds difficult, especially with an extensive website development process, don’t worry. At Promotion LA, we have decades of experience when it comes to creating and launching the perfect custom website for you and your business. Our team of developers, content writers and more will help you achieve the most unique, memorable website possible without missing a single step.
Check out our extensive portfolio to see the numerous clients we have helped over the years. Once you have done that, schedule a free consultation with us today so we can discuss how to improve your web presence.