From an initial client brief through to site launch the web development process can be divided up into a number of stages. Here is a quick overview of what is involved in each stage.
The analysis stage involves talking to the client to gather requirements and determining the websites objectives.
The analysis stage will ensure the team understand the client's needs which is vital in ensuring the project delivers a solution that achieves the client's objectives.
Skills and resources required to complete the project will be assessed and a project plan will be put in place to deliver the website in line with the client's requirements.
A cost to deliver the project will be calculated and a proposal sent to the client.
Information Architecture & User Experience Specification
Assuming the client is happy to proceed and a signed proposal and deposit have been received, the specification stage will begin.
This involves defining how the information contained in the website will be presented in the form of a sitemap and set of wire frames diagrams. These help develop the hierarchy, structure and navigation of the web pages that form the website and how each page will be laid out structurally.
This stage is important as it will effect how users locate the information on your site they are looking for, a poorly structured site can hinder potential customers, which may mean fewer sales if they can't find what they are looking for quickly enough.
If the website contains interactivity that cannot be captured by a wireframe or sitemap, a functional spec will be written to communicate the intended functionality.
Ideally the web copy should be sourced from the client before the web design stage as the content forms a large proportion of the design and the length of the copy on key pages can influence how a page is laid out and designed.
Where possible professionally written web copy is preferred as it will ideally include keywords and phrases to assist the search engine optimisation process.
Once the copy has been written another copywriter should proof-read it for typos, style and inconsistencies.
A web designers job will involve taking output from the first three stages of the development process (the client brief, web copy, site map and wireframes) together with any existing corporate branding to produce a design for the website.
Depending on the requirements of the client, a content management system may be built onto the website to allow the client to make website amends through an easy to use administration panel.
Once complete, a prototype will be deployed to a test website so the client can submit feedback.
The QA testing phase aims to ready the website for launch.
The website will be tested on a number of popular web browsers and versions (Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox, Safari, Chrome), platforms (Apple Mac, PC) and monitor sizes.
The website code will be checked for errors and conformity to W3C guidelines for HTML and CSS. Web accessibility compliance will also be checked.
The site will be inspected for broken links and missing images, and any forms on the site will be rigorously tested.
The deployment of the website will differ depending if the site is new or a redesign of an existing website. It generally involves migrating databases and website files to a live server, pointing domain name(s), setting up mailboxes and generally ensuring the site is running smoothly.
Deploying a website that is replacing an existing website is more involved as it requires special instructions in-place to ensure users who have bookmarked pages of the old site will be redirected to the most appropriate page on the new website. This also helps search engines update its index.
This stage is vital to ensure you get visitors and potential customers arriving at your new website.
Depending on the most appropriate strategy for your website this can include search engine marketing, search engine optimisation techniques and or traditional offline marketing.
Maintenance and Updating
Most websites will require updating every now and then to keep them current, these may be simple content updates made through a content management system or slight changes to the design/navigation which require technical assistance.
Occasionally a bug or error might be discovered with the website and need correcting.