Almost every Web designer can verify that much of their work is recurring.
We find ourselves completing the same tasks, even if slightly modified, over and over for every Web project.

When putting together the main business portion of the site, I wrote an article that outline the “ Six Phases Of The Website Design & Development Process ”. As an integral part of my own company, the article is slanted to how I personally help clients through the process of creating their own website.
Every significant web project poses unique challenges, but the overall process of developing a complex web site generally follows six major stages that you should think through before crafting your final project planning and proposal documents :

  • Information Gathering
  • Definition and Planning
  • Design
  • Development
  • Testing & Delivery
  • Marketing, Evaluation, and Maintenance

There are numerous steps in the website design & development process. From gathering initial information to the creation of website, and finally to maintenance to keep your site up to date.
The exact process will differ slightly from designer to designer, but basic are the same.

Phase One : Information Gathering -

This first step is actually the most important one, we need to understand about the company / business goals, vision, target markets, content requirements, reference sites and materials are, and how the web can be utilized to help you achieve those goals.

It is important that web designer start off by asking a lot of questions to help them understand about the client's business and needs for the web site.

Certain things to consider are:
Purpose - What is the purpose of the site? Do you want to provide information, promote a service, sell a product ??
Goals - What do you hope to accomplish by building this web site? Two of the more common goals are either to make money or share information.
Content - What kind of information will be looking for on your site? Are they looking for basic information, a particular product or service, online ordering ??
Target Audience - Is there a specific group of people that will help you reach your goals? It is helpful to picture the “ ideal ” person you want to visit your web site.

Phase Two : Site Definition & Planning -

The planning stage is perhaps the most important, because what’s decided and mapped here sets the stage for the entire project. This is also the stage that requires client interaction and the accompanying attention to detail.

During the planning phase, your web designer will also help you decide what technologies should be implemented. Elements such as what CMS (content management system) such as PHP, .NET, WordPress to incorporate, will any contact forms be needed, etc. are discussed when planning your web site.

Certain points to follows are:
Architecture/Sitemap - maps out the website architecture, defining sections & pages and their flow and relationship to each other
Functional Specification - a document that sets out in detail the things the website must do – and how it will do them
Prototype/Wireframes - a simple visual layout of the website pages with the intent to support the Functional Specification by starting to define certain layout and UI conventions to be employed across the website.

Phase Three : Design -

Outline from the information gathered up to this point, it’s time to create the look and feel of the website.

As part of the design phase, it is also important to incorporate elements such as the company logo or colors to help the identity of your company on the web site.

Designer will create one or more prototype designs for the website. This is typically a .jpg image of what the final design will look like. Often times you will be sent an email with the mock-ups for your web site, while other designers take it a step further by giving you access to a secure area of their web site meant for customers to view work in progress.

This stage typically involves moving the information outlined in the planning stage further into reality. The main deliverables are a documented site structure and, more importantly, a visual representation. Upon completion of the design phase, the website should more or less have taken shape, but for the absence of the content and special features.

Phase Four : Development -

Development involves the bulk of the programming work, as well as loading content (whether by your team or the client’s). Keep code organized and commented, and refer constantly to the planning details as the full website takes shape. Take a strategic approach, and avoid future hassles by constantly testing as you go.

On the technical front, a successful web site requires an understanding of front-end web development. This involves writing valid HTML / CSS code that complies to current web standards, maximizing functionality, as well as accessibility for as large an audience as possible.

Phase Five : Testing & Delivery -

At this point, web designer will attend to the final details and test website. They will test things such as the complete functionality of forms or other scripts and CSS, as well last testing for last minute browser compatibility issues (checking differences between different-different web browsers), ensuring that website is optimized to be viewed properly in the most recent browser versions.

A good web designer is one who is well versed in current standards for web site design and development. The basic technologies currently used are HTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). As part of testing, designer should check validation that all of the code written for website. Valid code means website assemble the current web development standards – this is helpful when checking for issues such as cross-browser compatibility as mentioned above.

Once you give final approval, it is time to deliver the site. An FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program is used to upload the web site files to your server. Some designers offer domain name registration and web hosting services as well, or have recommendations as to where you can host your site. Once these accounts have been setup, and your web site uploaded to the server, the site should be put through one last run-through. This is just precautionary, to confirm that all files have been uploaded correctly, and that the site continues to be fully functional.

Other final details include plugin installation (for WordPress or other CMS driven web sites and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

SEO is the optimization of website with elements such as title, description and keyword, meta tags which help your web site achieve higher rankings in the search engines. The previously mentioned code validation is something that plays a essential role in SEO, as well.

Now the site is successfully launch, as it is now viewable to the public.

Phase Six : Maintenance -

It’s really up to you as far as how comfortable you feel with updating your own web site. Some people prefer to have all the control so that they can make updates to their own web site the minute they decide to do so. Others prefer to hand off the web site entirely, as they have enough tasks on-hand that are more important for them to handle directly.

That’s where the help of a your web designer comes in, once again, as they can take over the web site maintenance for you

Are you Ready to Design / Re-design your Website?

I follow this same process myself – a process I’ve been using and refining over the last 7 years, through the web sites I’ve designed and developed for my own clients.

If you are in the market of a new or updated web site, and like MX’s Portfolio, please don’t hesitate to contact me – I would love to hear from you!!!

Thank You.

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