Designing and developing a website is a tedious with numerous steps to work on. The process may vary from one designer to another, but the basics will mostly be the same.
- Data gathering, analysis and definition
- Planning the site structure
- Structuring and selection of the design
- Test, refine, and launch
Data Gathering, Analysis and Definition
This is the most crucial step of the process; the ideas that the designer gathers from you – the owner of the website – will go a long way to help create the website based on your specifications. The worst problem a designer would probably encounter would be to work with clients who do not supply the necessary details, and then blames the designer if the website’s design did not exceed or even pass their expectations. It is always best for you and the designer to cover this ground through proper documentation – going through a “client survey interview would” be the best thing to do. You could either fill-up a form or go over the questions while brainstorming with the designer. Those details will be summed up in a client’s brief that your designer would create to define what the project is about, the goals, the target audience’s profile and perception, message to convey and the competitive edge – this together with the survey would be used to bring an imaginary audience into life. After going through these processes, the designer would have to draw a timeline for each phase of the project so that each milestone would be recorded and achieved in a timely manner.
Planning the Site Structure
When planning the structure of the site the designer must collaborate closely with the client on the content. Brainstorm with him/her to create a list of all the contents that the website must have. Then, he will spend time going over the list in order to trim it down to what are most applicable to the target audience and goals giving sufficient thought to how the site will grow in order to leave room for further development. After categorizing the content of the site, you need to go over the changes with him to see if they meet your approval. Next, would be the creation of a sitemap based on the content. A sitemap is a visual imagery of the outlined structure and content of the site. Lastly, is the creation of the wireframes. A wireframe is an illustration of the different pages and the content of each page – it includes the different elements like images and navigation. It also contains footers and other instrumental elements.
Structuring and Selection of the Design
Now, it’s time for a clearer view of what your designer is working on. As with the other steps, you need to work closely together. A thorough analysis of the materials on hand, while going over the points you want clarified and changed is necessary before giving your designer autonomy over the creation of the design. At this time, he can already surmise the different aspects he must work on. This part of the process needs time and patience from you and the designer because you would have to go over several drafts of the visual forms before you can get the final design.
This is the creation and development stage of the website. As this point, your designer will piece together all of the individual visual elements in order to confirm, and refine a technically functional plan which you need to review and check in order to know if it will be finished on time and within the budget or if you need to make some adjustments. After going to the first phase, then the creation and the integration of the site will start which is the 2nd phase of the development process. It is absolutely necessary to receive updates and give feedback while the site is continually developing in this stage.
Test, Refine, and Launch
This is when your web designer will apply the finishing touches to your website and test if before going live. It is imperative to conduct a quality assurance test of the content, validation, accessibility, validity, load testing, connection speed, scripts, usability, links, Search Engine Optimization, and security. There are 3 levels of priorities at this point. The first one are those which need to be fixed before a website can go live, followed by those which could help improve it, but you can afford to go live without, and last, would be those ideas for future consideration. When you give the final green light, the site will be uploaded to the server using an FTP (File Transfer Protocol Program.) Subsequently, a last test run will be done to check that everything is running as they should before launch. Then, your website is now set to go live!
The work does not necessarily end after the launching of the website. You need to constantly update your content and manage it. You can use a CMS (Content Management System) if you prefer to cut cost and do things on your own. Maintenance is one of the things you should remember to discuss with your web designer so that he could add the essential software for you to maintain the site after going live. However, if you are one of those type who are less adventurous when it comes to technology or if you are a busy person who is always on the go, it would be preferable to set an agreement with your designer to manage the site for you, and better yet if you want to drive traffic to your site, you could hire an SEO specialist if you have the financial resources to do so.
This are just the basic steps to designing, developing, and maintaining a website, however like most procedures it is subject to changes because most designers often come up with their interpretation of the stages and the implementation of their plans, so it is always best to keep the channel of communication open and be very patient.