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What Are The Steps To Build The Best Website You Can Possibly Have?

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If you’ve nev­er built a high-end busi­ness web­site before, you might think it’s a sim­ple process: get briefed by the client, build the web­site, and deliv­er. How­ev­er, it’s an inten­sive process that involves a mul­ti-dis­ci­pli­nary team of spe­cial­ized experts as well a mul­ti-stage and iter­a­tive work­flow to ensure the best pos­si­ble end result that meets all the client’s expectations.

A fea­ture-rich web­site should also be viewed as a liv­ing being that con­stant­ly needs to be cared for and groomed to per­form at its best. With that in mind, here’s a step-by-step intro­duc­tion all you need to know about the pro­duc­tion life-cycle of a high-end website.

Stage #1: Client brief with designer

The first step in the process is for the design­er to sit down with the client and deter­mine their needs. This is a cru­cial step as it lays the ground­work for the entire process and will deter­mine how suc­cess­ful the agency is in achiev­ing the client’s goals.

Pro­fes­sion­al design­ers know exact­ly what ques­tions to ask to define the project goals as clear­ly as pos­si­ble. The design­er will use this infor­ma­tion to pro­duce a visu­al rep­re­sen­ta­tion of what the client is look­ing for. He/she will also estab­lish which fea­tures and func­tion­al­i­ty must be built into the website.

This is also where the design­er obtain any rel­e­vant brand­ing or mar­ket­ing mate­r­i­al from the client. This is crit­i­cal so that the end prod­uct is con­sis­tent with the client’s brand, and may include:

  • Logos
  • Brand col­ors
  • Mar­ket­ing assets, such as ban­ners, iconog­ra­phy, etc.

If this is a new brand/business or the client doesn’t have the nec­es­sary assets, the design­er will design and cre­ate these assets from scratch. 

Stage #2: Drafts and Wireframes

Now, the design­er can do what he does best and design the look and feel of the web­site accord­ing to the client’s spec­i­fi­ca­tions. This ear­ly in the process, this usu­al­ly con­sists of design­ing mock­ups and wire­frames that func­tion like the blue­print for a house, but for a website.

Depend­ing on agency’s exact work­flow, the design­ers may iter­a­tive­ly devel­op high­er and high­er fideli­ty pro­to­types before mov­ing to the next stage.

Regard­less, it’s cru­cial that the design­ers form a clear pic­ture of what the end prod­uct should look like. They also need to pack­age every­thing neat­ly so that it’s eas­i­er for the devel­op­ers to work with and imple­ment it into the func­tion­al website.

Some of the infor­ma­tion devel­op­ers will need in the mock­up file are:

  • Brand col­ors (pri­ma­ry, sec­ondary, etc.).
  • Fonts as well as text dimen­sions, head­ing styles, etc.
  • Images, videos, logos, icons, and oth­er visu­al assets.
  • Wire­frames with dimen­sions and spay­ing require­ments for all layouts.
  • The pages break down and archi­tec­ture of the website
  • The fea­tures that need to be implemented
  • All oth­er con­tent, wid­gets, ele­ments, and where they are sup­posed to go.

Stage #3: Designer briefs developer and hands-of mockups

Now, the design­er and devel­op­ers will set togeth­er so the design­ers can brief the devel­op­ers to build the site to fol­low spec­i­fi­ca­tions. A num­ber of items will usu­al­ly be cov­ered dur­ing this meeting:

  • Pro­vid­ing the devel­op­er with a run­down of the client brief and over­all project goals
  • Han­dover and expla­na­tion of the mock­up file(s)
  • Expla­na­tions of any non-stan­dard fea­tures, such as cus­tom ani­ma­tions and spe­cial fea­tures or func­tion­al requirements
  • Han­dover of the tem­po­rary domain/website (if applicable)
  • Any oth­er client-spe­cif­ic details, such as email form busi­ness email address, API keys to rel­e­vant ser­vices, etc.

Depend­ing on how respon­si­bil­i­ties are divid­ed among design­ers and devel­op­ers, design­ers may also hand-off a pack­age with oth­er assets like fonts and icons for the devel­op­ers to include in the website.

Stage #4: The start of the development process

Before they jump into the actu­al cod­ing, devel­op­ers first have to do some plan­ning to make the process go smoother and to pro­duce a high­er-qual­i­ty prod­uct. This involves sit­ting down and plan­ning out the site and infor­ma­tion archi­tec­ture. It also involves estab­lish­ing a tech stack for the project and the tech­ni­cal require­ments, includ­ing addi­tion­al paid soft­ware or ser­vices that are needed. 

It could involve deci­sions like build­ing the web­site from scratch using a a frame­work or using a CMS like Word­Press, among others.

This is to avoid any sig­nif­i­cant delays or bud­getary issues thanks to reach­ing a devel­op­ment dead-end or fac­ing unex­pect­ed costs.

The devel­op­ers will then set up the envi­ron­ment for build­ing the web­site with their project spec­i­fi­ca­tions and accord­ing to their tech stack. Depend­ing on what best fits the cur­rent work process, the devel­op­ment envi­ron­ment will either be local­ly host­ed or on a remote server.

Stage #5: Final stages of the development process

Devel­op­ers will usu­al­ly start with putting in place the back­end, which includes things like the data­base, APIs, etc. these aspects of a site are hard­er to change lat­er and lay the foun­da­tion for the rest of the appli­ca­tion. How­ev­er, whether this is need­ed, and to what extent, is high­ly depen­dent on the fea­ture specifications.

Once the foun­da­tion is there, the devel­op­er will start imple­ment­ing the design into code — or, build­ing the fron­tend. They will start to put togeth­er the design as close to the designer’s visu­al rep­re­sen­ta­tion as pos­si­ble with­out break­ing the func­tion­al­i­ty and with­in the realm of what’s pos­si­ble. This is also where the devel­op­ers imple­ment any user inter­ac­tiv­i­ty as well as dynam­ic aspects of the website.

It’s near­ly unheard of that the first ver­sion of any sig­nif­i­cant cod­ing project is per­fect. Any devel­op­er worth their salt views their job as an iter­a­tive process of imple­ment­ing a fea­ture, ver­i­fy­ing and val­i­dat­ing their work, going back and rework­ing it, and then repeat­ing cycle as many times as is necessary.

Devel­op­ers will check for bugs, visu­al or func­tion­al incon­sis­ten­cies, etc. to ensure the work is of high qual­i­ty and every­thing works as expected.

Devel­op­ers may also do some for­mal doc­u­men­ta­tion. This involves doc­u­ment­ing the code so it’s eas­i­er to under­stand for future main­te­nance and devel­op­ment. It may also help design­ers and cus­tomer-fac­ing indi­vid­u­als under­stand why cer­tain deci­sions were taken.

Stage #6: Developer hands-off site back to the designer

Just like in Stage #3, it’s now the devel­op­ers turn to hand the project back over to the design­er. This should be a com­plete ver­sion of the web­site with the cor­rect look and feel accord­ing to the ini­tial client brief. Devel­op­ers should also explain why some­thing was changed if the ini­tial idea was not fea­si­ble and why some things were imple­ment­ed in a cer­tain way.

Design­ers can review the design and fea­tures from an aes­thet­ic or usabil­i­ty per­spec­tive and do minor adjust­ments if need­ed — or make notes and send it back to the devel­op­ers. This process can go back and forth until any obvi­ous flaws are fixed and the project meets both the design and devel­op­ment teams’ standards.

Stage #7: Client reviews the first version of the completed website

Once you are sat­is­fied the client’s ini­tial require­ments have been met, it’s time for the lead design­er to sign of on the first ver­sion and send it for the client review. If some­thing couldn’t be imple­ment­ed — because of tech­ni­cal lim­i­ta­tions, or any oth­er rea­son — this should be point­ed out and explained to the client.

This is also an iter­a­tive process and may include mul­ti­ple rounds of edits/reworks request­ed by the client. If it’s fea­si­ble, the design­ers and devel­op­ers will retrace some of their pre­vi­ous steps and make the nec­es­sary adjust­ments. This cycle con­tin­ues until all par­ties are sat­is­fied and the client can sign-off on the final ver­sion of the website.

Stage #8: Website handover to client and post-development support

Most web­sites will be devel­oped on inter­nal servers or using in-house host­ed envi­ron­ments. In this case, you will need to assist the client by trans­fer­ring the web­site over to their domains.  This also involves pro­vid­ing clients with access to the web­site as well as as any addi­tion­al logins to admin pan­els or oth­er ser­vices they might need.

Depend­ing on the project scope, you will alos need to imple­ment oth­er post-pro­duc­tion improve­ments, such as SEO or per­for­mance opti­miza­tions, social shar­ing cards, set­ting up user accounts, and per­mis­sion man­age­ment. Any­thing need­ed to adopt it seam­less­ly into their organization.

You may have also tak­en a con­tract where you will be per­form­ing the rou­tine main­te­nance on the web­site. Oth­er bugs might also come to light only once the site is live in the real-world that will require fix­ing. This usu­al­ly involves reg­u­lar updates to fur­ther improve the SEO and per­for­mance, keep apps and plu­g­ins up to date, keep the web­site secure, file cleanup and restora­tion, log man­age­ment, etc.

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What Are The Steps To Build The Best Website You Can Possibly Have?
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