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Website design and development stages

Website design and development stages
Website design and development stages

The rise of citizen journalism and social networks have created a false economy for traditional news media. Information produced for several years is now the centre of a stoush between tech giants Facebook and Google and the Australian government over payment for the use of news content. However, some don't realise the cost and effort put into sourcing and creating quality news. There are plenty who are happy to support this by shelling out a few bucks for a newspaper or magazine or pay a subscription to access a news site.

Your website is the face of your company, so it needs to be unique, provide essential information about your business or services, and be easy to navigate.

Be sure to select a good content management system (CMS). There are various reliable platforms to choose from, such as WordPress, a great tool for experienced users and novices. A web developer makes use of programming languages such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript to ensure your website runs and functions to your specifications.

1. Briefing

Initial client briefing and business research

Arguably, the most important stage of web development projects is the planning stage where ideas are formed and become the basis of the entire project. This stage involves critical attention to detail and requires a lot of interaction between clients, designers and developers. There are several sub-stages of this phase, which include analysing requirements, setting timelines for stages of the build, the site map, defining roles, financial points, gaining access to build folder structures and servers, as well as determining the resources and required software to be used in the project. Most people ignore this critical step in the development process. To ensure your web design is on the right path, gathering information about the business is necessary.

Think about your needs and goals, and ask yourself:

  • Do I want to sell products and/or services?
  • Do I want to improve branding and work on online visibility?
  • Who is my target audience?

Other technical aspects to discuss include: Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, SSL Certificate and email hosting, web hosting and domains. Think about your needs, if you already have any pre-existing items or need them sourced?

2. Planning

Information gathering

After sufficient information about the business has been gathered, it's time to plan out the design, sitemaps and layout. A sitemap is made with the information collected at the initial briefing. The primary motive is to create a user-friendly website structure, so you need to decide what functions and features are needed in the site. This includes details such as login, email subscription, admin, live chat, and much more.

3. Platform

Choosing a CM

The choice of platform can be important to fit with the purpose of a website, such as e-commerce websites. We use WordPress as it is open source (this means the source code is free to adapt). It's also easy to maintain, mobile friendly and has become a standard tool for web development used by many developers. Many large and small business use WordPress as their preferred platform to create and manage their blogs and website. It's also the most famous open source content management system in the world, accounting for 30 per cent of the world's websites. Some notable businesses using WordPress are CANSTAR, The Gold Coast Bulletin, Facebook Meta Newsroom, The Rolling Stones, PlayStation name a few!

4. Content  

Copywriting writing

Before the design stage, copy for the website needs to be well thought out and written. Compared to traditional copywriting, website copywriting is a whole new field. Unlike copywriting for marketing brochures, or other print materials, website copywriting builds content that considers search engines and readers. In other words, it's an SEO strategy, formulated to maximise the searchability of your website. Excellent and engaging web copy is necessary to grab the attention of the people. It should be written to expand brand awareness, make people aware about a new product or service, produce leads or attract new clients for the business. The content should be modified, and SEO optimised for the website with headings, subheadings, tags, etc. so that people can find what they are searching.

About SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the process of optimising a website so it gets found on Search Engines like Google. It is an imperatively important part of a website, as it is one of the main areas where your website can be found. With SEO, you want your website to appear on the first page of search results especially since most users only go to the first or second page of the search results. Achieving that goal requires your site to not only feature content relevant to the search, but also content optimised for that search. Content writing heavily influences how well your website will rank, and is a crucial, commonly missed, stage of the web development process. That's why content writing is a priority. Elements to consider when writing copy:

  • Research keywords
  • Where do you want to rank? What are your business goals?
  • Optimising the page for search
  • Blogs and sharable content to generate backlinks
  • Creating meaningful content that both is informative, and is what the end user wants to read

5. Design

User interface design

The web design (graphic elements) is a key part of website development process. It is at this stage the client is presented with the visual representation of the website to get their feedback. This includes the look and feel, functionality and any special design features they need. It is necessary to keep in mind the theme, brand colours, where to place text, images, videos, etc. The design layout structures the pages in a systematic manner so they are appealing. These elements will go through a review and approval cycle before proceeding on to the next stage. Upon completion of the design, the website will have more or less taken shape, barring the lack of features and content that a live site will have. Once the layout has been reviewed and approved, the building or development of the site can begin.

6. Build  

Backend development

At this stage, the design is with the web developer who will code and develop the website, following best practices and industry standards. It is the most crucial step in development bringing the visual elements created by the graphic designer in the previous stage to life. The landing or main page is created first, and then all other web pages are added, as per the site hierarchy. A deep comprehension of every development technology is crucial at this stage, as they influence the features per page in the end website. Any external API or Third Party Technology is built into the website at this stage, as well as any any features and expansions discussed during the planning phase.

7. Launch  

Testing and launching website

Every page and link is tested before launching the site to make sure nothing is broken. Every form and script is checked and a spell check is run over the site to find possible typing errors. Code validators are used to ensure code follows the current web development standards. Once testing is complete, the developer will transfer the website from the staging server to wherever the website hosting is located. Other testing considerations include:

  • Website speed
  • Site auditing
  • Mail sending and receiving checks
  • Cross-browser compatibility (Safari, Chrome, Edge, Brave, Firefox etc.)
  • Multiple screen tests (Mobile, Desktop, Tablet)
  • Usability testing (UX, UI testing)
  • Bug fixing
  • All the necessary tests are performed on a website before publishing

Finally, the completed website is uploaded to the chosen web hosting server and is again tested before handover.

8. Support  

Post-launch and maintenance

Once the site is launched, that's not the end! To avoid any inconvenience, ongoing maintenance services are performed after launching as part of the website build. There are many tasks to be carried out such as providing clients the source code and project documents, working on feedback and post-development support. This step holds equal importance because the main purpose of the site starts once it's live for people. This is also to cover any unforeseen issues that may occur, due to hosting limitations, or site breakages via a large influx of new users. Providing a feature complete website with little to no bugs, issues or breakages is a priority Whatever your business, we can create a solution designed to meet your needs. To find out more about how we can build your next website, contact [email protected] or +61 7 5607 0899