Understand the process of website design and development

Why your business needs a professional website?

Websites attract more customers! According to the Small Business Administration, 50% of Internet sales are from new clients. Having a website significantly brings more customers. It serves as an online brochure or catalog, convince customers that you are the real deal. By having a well-structured website, you can foster instant credibility with anyone. A website is available to everyone providing information about your business 24x7x365 even when your store or office is closed. At the least, it provides contact information for phone numbers, addresses, emails quickly accessible and hours of operation to get in touch with you easily. You do not need a customer going to a wrong address or visit your shop when it is closed.

Phases of website development

Out of many methods of developing software, one of the proven methods for a successful development of a website is divided into six phases described in the following section. These six phases will be completed in one to two weeks called a sprint following agile software methodology. Any website which requires more than two weeks of work will be iteratively done in the next sprint following the same phases. Depending on the size of the project and customers decision, final delivery and maintenance may be moved to the final sprint.

By adopting a formal practice for software development, expectations are set in the very beginning which ultimately will lead to a successful project delivery in terms of customer satisfaction, saving time, cost and many others.

Phase One: Information Gathering

This first step is the most important one, as it involves a solid understanding of the company the website is created for. It involves a good knowledge of business, its goals, and its competition. A partial definition of the scope of the project starts here. An experienced website development company can give an idea about the pricing at this state. This helps the business decide what is important for them for a given price tag.

Phase Two: Planning

Using the information gathered from phase one, it is time to put together a plan for your website development. This is the point where a site map is developed. The sitemap 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 website aka your customer must be kept in mind when designing the site. Most of the contents that display on the websites are completed at this stage.

Phase Three: Design

Drawing from the information gathered up to this point, its time to determine the look and feel of the website. Most of the cases, it involves various stages starting with wireframe. A wireframe is low quality, fast to deliver a representation of the final website which is like a napkin sketch. Once the wireframe is approved, the next step is mockup which is a middle to high fidelity, static, design representation. Finally, a prototype is a detailed simulation of the future design, often to a point where it is mimicking the interaction. Depending on the scale of the project some projects may skip some or all of these works and directly go to the final development.

Phase Four: Development

The developmental stage is the point where the website itself is created mimicking site map, wireframe, prototype and mockup. On the technical site, a successful website requires an understanding of front-end web development. This involves writing valid HTML / CSS code that complies with current web standards, mobile readiness often called responsive design, initial stages of search engine optimization (SEO). Integration with web content management system like Smartwcm is done in this state.

Phase Five: Testing and Delivery

At this phase, all the features of the websites are tested. This includes testing all the links, web forms, logins, validation of HTML, CSS, Javascript. Browser compatibility which tests website on different web browsers is tested on different computers running different operating systems. Responsiveness tests devices with various sizes from large screens to mobile devices. Search engine readiness is tested to make sure the website is readable for search engines. Most of the web content management systems like Smartwcm take care many aspects of Search Engine Optimization. At this stage, the website is ready for the delivery to the client.

Phase Six: Maintenance

Website maintenance involves simple website updates such as changing text or images on a web page, create new pages or add new functionality to your website. Many businesses manage their website internally which requires experienced IT staff and servers or hosted on the third party hosting services.
Many newer platforms like Smartwcm offers website as a service which offers businesses a hands-free way to keep their website up to date with updates and fixes. A website also requires changes with browser version changes.

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