So, the seven main stages of development:
- Collection of information,
- content creation,
- Testing, review and launch
When you start planning your website development process, the two main issues you face are development time and cost. These two values largely depend on the size and complexity of the project. To give you a general idea of how the project will work, you can create a development timeline that lists the main tasks of the project as well as the milestones it consists of. This will allow you to conveniently monitor the overall picture and always be sure that the tasks will be completed on time.
Website development life cycle.
Gathering information: purpose, main goals, and target audience.
The stage of preliminary research and collection of information determines how all subsequent stages of development will proceed. The most important thing at this point is to have a clear and thorough idea of what your future site’s purpose will be, what goals you want to achieve with it, and who you want to attract as a target audience. Such a kind of web development questionnaire will allow you to determine the best strategy for the further development of the project. News portals are different from entertainment sites, and sites for teenagers are different from those for adults. Different sites provide visitors with different functionality, which means that different technologies should be used in this or that case.
Planning: creating a sitemap and layout.
At this stage of development, the customer can already get an idea of what the future site will be like. Based on the information collected in the previous stage, a sitemap is created. A sitemap describes the relationship between different parts of your site. This makes it easier to see how practical it will be to utilize. Using the site map, you can determine the “distance” from the main page to other pages, which helps to judge how easy it will be for the user to get to the information of interest to him.
The basic purpose of a sitemap is to produce a user-friendly and easy-to-navigate product. This allows you to understand the internal structure of the future site but does not describe what the site will look like. Sometimes it can be important to get the customer’s approval before you start coding or designing. In this case, a mock is created (wireframe or mock-up). The layout is a visual representation of the future interface of the site.
Design: page template, review, and approval.
At this point, the website gets even closer to its final form. All visual content such as images, photos and videos is created right now. And, once again, all of the information gathered at the beginning of the project is critical at this stage. While working on the design, the customer’s, as well as the target audience’s interests, should be taken into consideration first. At this stage, the designer creates a page template (page layout). The main purpose of the template is to visualize the structure of the page, its content, and also display the main functionality. This time, unlike the layout, design elements are used. The template contains colors, logos and images.
The content creation process usually runs in parallel with other developmental stages and its role should not be underestimated. At this step, you need to describe the essence of what you want to convey to the audience of your website, as well as add a CTA (call to action). This stage also includes creating attractive and catchy headlines, writing and editing text, compiling existing texts, and so on. All this requires additional time and effort. As a rule, the customer provides content that is ready to be posted on the site. It is important that all content be prepared before or during the development stage.
Layout and development.
While working on the design, the customer’s, as well as the target audience’s interests, should be taken into consideration first. Typically, the home page is created first, and then other pages are added to it according to the hierarchy developed during the sitemap creation phase. Also at this stage, the CMS is installed. All static elements of the website, which were previously designed when creating the template, turn into real dynamic interactive elements of the web page. An important task is to conduct SEO-optimization (Search Engine Optimization), which is the optimization of web page elements (titles, descriptions, keywords) in order to raise the position of the site in the search engine results.
Testing and launch.
Testing is perhaps the most common step in the development process. Every link, every form, and every script must be thoroughly vetted. The text should be checked by a spell checker to identify possible typos and errors. Code validators are used to make sure that the code generated in the previous step fully complies with modern web standards. This can be extremely important if, for example, cross-browser compatibility is critical for you. After you’ve double-checked and triple-checked your site, it’s time to submit it to the server. Usually, an FTP client is used for this. After uploading the site to the server, it is necessary to conduct another test in order to be sure that no unexpected errors occurred during the upload and that all files are safe and sound.
Support: User reviews and regular updates.
Understanding that a website is more of a service than a product is critical. It is not enough to simply “deliver” it to the consumer. It is also important to be sure that everything works as planned and that users are satisfied with the final product. You also need to be ready to make changes quickly if needed. The feedback mechanism will enable you to detect any issues that site visitors may have. The most critical task in such cases will be to resolve the problems that have arisen as quickly as possible. Otherwise, your users would rather choose another resource than put up with the inconvenience. Also, do not forget about the regular updating of the CMS.