How to build a website with your developer and what the key stages of website building projects look like on both sides of the table
The 7 Key Stages of the Website Development Process
So, you’ve decided to have a website built (great idea!) and, rather than go it alone and try to build your own, you’ve engaged the services of a website developer (another great idea!), but you’re not quite sure what to expect from the development process (completely understandable!).
In this article, we will look at how to build a website with your developer and what the key stages of website building projects look like on both sides of the table. To help you decipher the web design project process and give you a bit of an understanding of the key stages of your website build process, we’ve put together this brief guide to the ‘Web Design Project Lifecycle’.
It is generally agreed that the process required to develop a fully optimised, high-performing, high quality website consists of seven distinct stages, known as the website design project lifecycle:
1. Information gathering
This phase of the website development process is perhaps the most crucial to ensuring the ultimate success of your website and is essentially responsible for guiding each subsequent stage of the project. Your web developer will gather information about your business, and work with you to analyse its needs and your website goals, such as:
- What does the business do?That is, do you sell a product or provide a service?
- Do you have any points of difference or a unique value proposition?
- Do you have an existing logo and brand, or do you have new branding guidelines for the designer to work from?
If you already have a website
- What is the domain name?
- Where is the website hosted?
- Do you want the web designer to take over hosting?
- Will you be reusing content from the old website? If not, do you have new content ready to go, or will you require assistance from a copywriter?
- Does your existing website have any problems or pain points?
- Will the number of pages remain the same? Or are you planning to add or remove content?
That is, what do you want your website to do and what needs of your consumers (or audience) are you trying to meet? For example:
- Do you want a website that showcases the products or services you provide and can be used as a portfolio?
- Is your website intended to be an online store? If so, do you need a payment gateway to be set up/integrated?
- Is your website being used to create sales leads and/or encourage visitors to contact you for more information?
- Is your website being created for the purpose of providing information?
- Is your main goal to boost your online presence and rank well on search engines?
The target audience is the main consumers of the product, service or information you provide; who are you trying to reach or attract, and what kind of demographic they belong to, such as their age, gender, location, preferences, and needs.
Who are your main competitors?
This is a key element in designing your website, as it allows you to analyse the current market within which your business operates, identify your business’s strengths and weaknesses and those of your competitors, and help you to position your business as a market leader.
Do you have a firm vision for your website?
Do you have a clear idea of how you want your website to look and feel? Do you have any requirements for your website that are non-negotiable – that is, things that must be included or things you absolutely do not want? If the details aren’t thoroughly fleshed out and all the relevant information isn’t gathered during this stage, none of the subsequent stages will deliver the desired outcomes.
Once you and your website designers have established your requirements and they have gathered all the information they need to create a high-performing website for your business, it is time to move onto the planning stage of the website design process. This is where the layout and functionality blueprint of your site is created – you and your web designer will decide on the best tools and technologies to meet the requirements of your website and its users.
During this stage your designer will create a sitemap and wireframe for your website. The sitemap is a detailed list of the sections, sub-sections and pages to be built into your website and is used as a guide for organising the content of the site. The wireframe is an easy-to-understand, high-level guide that shows the layout of each page and maps out the navigational elements of the site.
Once you and your web designer have agreed on the basic framework of your website, coupled with all the information they have previously gathered about your business, its needs and any existing branding, you can move on to the next stage of the web design process – designing and developing your site.
This is where you begin to build in the look and feel of your website, and includes making decisions about your aesthetic preferences, including the colour palette, typography (fonts), graphics, images (including the use of stock photos), animations, and menu styles.
During this stage your web designer will build the first iteration, or version, of your website. It is during this phase that developers become involved in the process to synthesize the decisions made regarding look, feel, layout, functionality and content, and add coding to the back end of your website to enable elements such as navigation buttons, contact forms, online quote requests, and shopping carts.
At Jezweb, we create your homepage first and get your feedback on it. If you’re happy with the homepage then we will continue to build the rest of your site to mirror that same design. If you’re not satisfied with certain elements of the design, or you feel like the web designer has missed the mark and needs to start again, this is the time to provide constructive feedback about the kinds of changes you feel need to be made to achieve the website that you had envisioned.
5. Content creation
Depending on your needs, this stage involves either lifting content from your existing website to transfer it to the new design, or planning, writing and editing new website content. You may choose to write this content yourself, hire an independent copywriter, or have your website design firm have an in-house copywriter produce your content for you.
Copywriters are skilled writers who will create content that is specially crafted to grab your visitors’ attention and help your website to rank well on search engines, through strategic keyword placement. Good content helps to create a better user experience and is a vital element for ensuring the success of your site.
Keytags and metadata will be added behind your content, so that it is easier for search engines to find your content and return it as a result to a web user’s search. In short, copywriters will help your website to show up on that all-important first results page of a Google search.
6. Testing, review and launch
After the site has been developed and content has been added, the entire website is checked to ensure it works as it’s supposed to. Every page is tested for responsiveness; every link, button, navigation element and form are checked to ensure they work; and page layout is checked to ensure everything displays correctly on both desktop and mobile devices. Other testing may include checking cross-browser compatibility. Once all testing has been completed, the site can be moved to a live server site and launched to the public!
The maintenance stage is the final, but continual, stage in the website design project lifecycle. Just because your site is live, it doesn’t mean that the process building your website and keeping it healthy is complete. There are several tasks that continue in the background once your website is up and running, including:
- updating software or functionality
- checking for broken links
- undertaking regular site back-ups
- installing plugins
- fixing bugs and other issues
- editing existing content (for example, to make sure special offers are up to date)
- adding new content (such as publishing regular blogs).
These maintenance tasks are generally focused on maintaining or improving the user experience (UX) and user interaction (UI). Publishing regular blogs is a great way to build the content on your site and ensure it remains highly visible to search engines and fully optimised for their ever-evolving algorithms.
Jezweb can help you build a high-quality, high-performing, fully optimised and responsive website, no drama!
Jezweb has a team of fantastic web designers, writers and developers who can help you to create a website you will love. Our project managers and web designers will work closely with you to help you come up with a set of comprehensive design requirements, and our writers and developers will work together to build you a website that not only looks amazing but is well-written, fully optimised and incredibly responsive.
With this combination you can be sure that your website will stand out from the crowd and will have all the functionality you need, so your website can help your business to consistently meet all its goals. For more information about how Jezweb can help you to design, build and maintain the perfect website for your business, contact Jezweb on 1300 024 766 or email us at email@example.com. Alternatively, fill out our contact form to have one of our friendly and super helpful staff members contact you as soon as possible.