The Web Development Process

Although many people hear “web development” and think “coding”, developing a website is a multi-step process of which coding is only one part. In fact, if you’re working with a web developer to build a company website, you don’t have to be a programming wizard to understand what to expect from each stage. Here are the main steps involved in creating and launching a website. 

DOMAIN NAME SELECTION/ REGISTRATION

Step one: select a clear, unique domain name that is memorable, easy to read and pronounce, and reflects your company accurately. You’ll likely work with your web developer or marketers to incorporate top keywords related to your product or service, brainstorming a list of several options before choosing one name to register. 

BUILDERS, PLUGINS, AND TEMPLATES

Not all websites require extensive coding, particularly if you’re going for a simple one-page website. Different builders and templates exist to accommodate a range of styles and features, so it’s important to discuss which functions you want your site to have with your developer. Maybe you need an ecommerce shop, integration with your marketing platform, logic-based forms, or scheduling features, etc. Categorize them by must-have and nice-to-have so their team can research and present options. 

At the same time: don’t fear white space or negative space! White space gives your page room to breathe; if text boxes, images, and graphics are all on top of one another, they’ll seem cluttered and confusing. Think of white space as the frame that tells your viewer’s eyes how to travel around your page and what to focus on. 

DEFINING GOALS AND AUDIENCE

The #1 rule of marketing also applies to creating a website: know your audience. After you register your domain name, spend a couple of weeks gathering data about your target audience and about other websites that successfully accomplish similar goals. A lot of time and effort goes into creating beautiful, effective websites and this is a key step you do not want to miss. Your web developer(s) will need information on your specific vision for your company and who you’re trying to reach.

Speaking of typography, pairing fonts is like pairing a good meal with wine—the right font combination adds richness and flavor to your text. If you want to test font pairings on your own, interactive online tools like FontJoy offer a good basic sense of how two fonts will look together. Just make sure that whatever text you choose, all your type is aligned the same way (left, right, center, or justified). Misaligned type creates a subtle but very distracting sense that something is “off” from a visual standpoint.

SITEMAP AND WIREFRAMING

Next, your marketing team should provide you with two types of mock-ups: a flowchart that allows you to assess how the entire site will function (a sitemap), and a visual representation of what each page’s layout will look like (a wireframe). Now is the time to comment on whether the site’s organization and visual layout work for your goals. For more on sitemaps and wireframes, check out our blog post on the difference between the two.

DESIGN

During the design stage of the process, you’ll be presented with website and page layouts in the form of sketches or via graphic design software. This is the ideal point to offer feedback on any design elements so they can be tweaked before your website enters the full coding stage. Consider how the images, fonts, colors, videos or animations, buttons and drop-down menus, and more all work together and whether they fit your brand’s style. 

Color is also an excellent tool for pulling your page or pages together. For instance, if you need a color for highlighting important text, choose one of the colors that’s already prominent in your main images; if that color can also be found in your logo, even better!

 CONTENT CURATION

The writing and curation of content (posts, copy, headlines, etc.) is another essential element for a website since engaging content will expand your reach and provide key information to visitors. As a client, it’s generally best if you can provide ready-made content to your web developers before-hand in order to ensure seamless integration between content and design.  

Color is also an excellent tool for pulling your page or pages together. For instance, if you need a color for highlighting important text, choose one of the colors that’s already prominent in your main images; if that color can also be found in your logo, even better!

DEVELOPMENT

Now comes the coding part, likely the longest stage, when web developers move from designing your website to actually building a functioning site. A developer will work on both the front-end and back-end of your new site following components already developed, like the sitemap and wireframes. 

As a client, at this stage you should look for factors like what kind of Content Management System (CMS) is being installed—WordPress, for example—and if all necessary special features, like custom plug-ins, are installed as expected. You should also note whether various website elements are using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and keywords to help your site rank higher in search engines.

REVIEW AND TESTING

Before you officially launch, each element must be reviewed and tested to make sure it functions well. Even if your web developer handles testing scripts and code, you can help proofread content, test each link to make sure none are broken, and view content on different device sizes. Once all your content is stringently reviewed for quality, your website is ready to be uploaded to a server.

WEBSITE LAUNCH

Your website will now be uploaded to a server, also known as deployment. At this stage, the site should undergo a second round of checking and tests to make sure it runs smoothly post-launch. During or shortly before the launch is also a good time to make sure you have robust backups of all the site material.

MAINTENANCE AND HOSTING

A website isn’t a static product that, once deployed, no longer requires attention. Instead, launching a website is simply the first step in a long-term process of maintenance, much like maintaining a vehicle. Coordinate with your web developer to understand how your site is hosted, how to update your CMS or other software regularly to prevent glitches, and how to gather feedback and data on the site’s functioning.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Web development isn’t just long strings of code on a screen. When creating a website, you’ll start with an in-depth planning process that gives web designers and developers all the information, goals, and content they need to begin. Next, you’ll assess and give feedback on their plans and layout designs for your upcoming site. Only then does the coding part begin—followed by careful testing, review, and maintenance both pre- and post-launch. The more prepared you are for each step, the smoother the whole process will be!

NEED HELP?

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.