The website development process
The web development process should be seen as a continuous process. Once a project is completed, you move onto the next, slightly better by improving your services and overall quality from project to project. You always learn, from the technology you are required to implement, the team of people taking part in the whole process, to the clients requesting the construction of their online idea. The best part is that you are always on a learning curve and improving in a lot of areas fast, producing better and more quality results.
The web design process
The planning stage is arguably the most important in the whole process, 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.
All the planning then goes into the design stage, which 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.
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. It is an important process because both the client’s ideas and the developer’s vision all come into place to create a whole.
The purpose of the launch phase is to prepare the website for public viewing. This requires final polishing of design elements, deep testing of interactivity and features and, most of all, a consideration of the user experience. An important early step in this phase is to move the website, if need be, to its permanent Web server. Testing in the production environment is important because different servers can have different features and unexpected behavior (e.g. different database host addresses).
Business re-enters the picture at this point as you take care of all the little tasks related to closing the project. Packaging source files, providing instructions for use and any required training occurs at this time. Always leave the client as succinctly informed as possible, and try to predict any questions they may have. Don’t leave the project with a closed door; communicate that you’re available for future maintenance and are committed to ongoing support. If maintenance charges haven’t already been shared, establish them now.