June 19, 2017 A Guide to the Modern Web Development Process
I am frequently asked about what exactly a web developer does and what are the steps in the creation of each website. I put together this short “Process” guide to give you an idea of what the typical workflow looks like for each website build, all the way from initial consultation to launch!
Step 1: Information Gathering
The first part of any new website is to gather information from the client. Each client has their own set of goals for what they want their website to achieve. Some want to launch a blog, others a small business site, others want to sell their product online, etc. I have found the best way to get up to speed for each client is to send a detailed questionnaire and then scheduling a follow up call. This lets the client take their time and really put some thought into what they would like out of their site. Even if they don’t specifically know what they want the final site to look like, the process of filling out the questionnaire, looking at other sites they like, and identifying a target audience helps the developer form some early ideas of how to build the client site.
Step 2: General Website Planning
After the client has returned the completed questionnaire and asked any follow up questions, the next part of the process is sketching a general overview of what will be included in the site. This includes the specific pages in a sitemap, such as About, Services, Blog, and Contact, to help see the number of pages required and how they will tie together. We also sketch out a basic “wireframe” design of the pages, which gives us a rough blueprint of what each page will look like. This helps make sure both the developer and the client have a mutual understanding of what will be created, as it is easier to fix any confusion early on.
Step 3: Website Design
Once the client and the developer agree on the number of pages and the general layout, we then start working on the design of the website. This includes working with the client to create a color scheme, logo, and specific layouts of each page. It’s important that the site looks and feels like one cohesive place, instead of multiple individual pages jumbled together. We use a uniform color palette, fonts, and image styling across all the pages to create a brand identity throughout the entire website. The developer works with the client to make sure they are happy with the general design and feel before going to the next step of actually building the functional website.
Step 4: Website Development and Coding
After the design and colors are finalized, it’s time to start putting all the pieces together through coding. We take the designs and ideas discussed in the previous steps and start building the website. This includes any specifically requested features of the website, such as an online shop or booking system, along with the content for each page. The content can include text, images, videos, or anything else that helps the site feel complete. If the previous design stage was the blueprint, the development stage is where we build out a fully functioning website.
Step 5: Testing and Launch
When the website is fully designed and coded, it is time to run through a series of tests to make sure everything is functioning as it should. This includes double checking every link goes to the proper location, all date and time settings are correct, search engine optimization is setup for each page, and there are no bugs when the site loads. The client is also part of this process, because we can upload a draft of the site to a private link on the Internet only accessible by the client and web developer. This allows the client to run through the site and make any final requests or changes. Once the client approves the final version of the site, the developer copies it to the client’s personal domain and the site is live!
Step 6: Maintenance and Security
The site being launched onto the Internet is not the end of the client/developer relationship. In fact, one of the most important parts is to make sure the website is properly maintained, like an oil change for your car. This includes making sure all the files behind the scenes are properly updated when new updates are released. These updates are important for plugging security holes, adding new features, and keeping the site running fast. We can also work with clients to setup daily site backups, so if something happens to the site we can easily restore it to a previous version and minimize the amount of data lost.
I hope this overview of the modern web development process was useful. If you enjoyed it, please let us know in the comments below or get in touch to build a website of your own!