5 General Phases of the Website Design and Development Process
APS Communications can help you plan and develop the website that your business or organization needs. Needs can vary but our process is simple – here is a general look at how we approach your needs:
Phase One: Information Gathering
The first step in designing a successful web site is to gather information. Many things need to be taken into consideration when the look and feel of your site is created.
This first step is actually the most important one, as it involves a solid understanding of the company it is created for. It involves a good understanding of you – what your business goals and dreams are, and how the web can be utilized to help you achieve those goals.
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.
- 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. Consider their age, sex or interests – this will later help determine the best design style for your site.
- Content – What kind of information will the target audience be looking for on your site? Are they looking for specific information, a particular product or service, online ordering…?
Phase Two: Planning
Using the information gathered from phase one, it is time to put together a plan for your web site. This is the point where a site map is developed.
The site map is a list of all main topic areas of the site, as well as sub-topics, if applicable. This serves as a guide as to what content will be on the site, and is essential to developing a consistent, easy to understand navigational system. The end-user of the web site – aka your customer – must be kept in mind when designing your site. These are, after all, the people who will be learning about your service or buying your product. A good user interface creates an easy to navigate web site, and is the basis for this.
During the planning phase, we will also help you decide what technologies should be implemented. Elements such as what CMS (content management system) such as WordPress to incorporate, will any contact forms be needed, etc. are discussed when planning your web site.
Phase Three: Design
Drawing from the information gathered up to this point, it’s time to determine the look and feel of your site.
Target audience is one of the key factors taken into consideration. A site aimed at teenagers, for example, will look much different than one meant for a financial institution. As part of the design phase, it is also important to incorporate elements such as the company logo or colors to help strengthen the identity of your company on the web site. When initial design has been set up, we will give access to a secure area of their web site to view work in progress.
In this phase, communication is crucial to ensure that the final web site will match your needs and taste. It is important that you work closely with your designer, exchanging ideas, until you arrive at the final design for your web site.
Then development can begin…
Phase Four: Development
The developmental stage is the point where the web site itself is created. At this time, your web designer will take all of the communication regarding graphic elements and use them to create the actual, functional site.
This is typically done by first developing the home page, followed by a “shell” for the interior pages. The shell serves as a template for the content pages of your site, as it contains the main navigational structure for the web site. Once the shell has been created, your designer will take your content and distribute it throughout the site, in the appropriate areas.
Elements such as the CMS (content management system) like WordPress, interactive contact forms, or ecommerce shopping carts are implemented and made functional during this phase, as well.
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.
This is tested in the next phase…
Phase Five: Testing and Delivery
At this point, your web designer will attend to the final details and test your web site. We will test things such as the complete functionality of forms or other scripts, as well last testing for last minute compatibility issues (viewing differences between different web browsers), ensuring that your web site is optimized to be viewed properly in the most recent browser versions.
APS uses web developers that are well versed in current standards for web site design and development. The basic technologies currently used are HTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). We will transfer the site to your preferred host upon approval. Or, of course, can host the site for you.
Other final details include plugin installation (for WordPress or other CMS driven web sites and SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO is the optimization of your web site with elements such as title, description and keyword tags which help your web site achieve higher rankings in the search engines.