An Overview of Web Design Project's lifecycle
The process of designing and developing a website can be quite overwhelming and challenging. A lot of thought, effort and discussions lead to the launch of a 'perfect website'.
Following are the steps of a web design project lifecycle:
Analysis: The basic question is why do you need a website? Make sure you have an answer to that one before even thinking of going further. It is particularly important in the case of Business Websites. A business must analyze why it wants a website (a business model) - to promote the business, generate revenue or offer support to customers. The website is going to be a part of the system. How the web based application or website will help the existing system or the business should be basis of the analysis. After analyzing requirements from a business perspective, it is then time to focus on user needs. Make sure you can clearly classify your target audience and establish functionality, the user will require. Never assume that you know what a customer wants.
Input: Interviews with clients, supporting documents and mails, discussion notes, model sites etc. Output: Cost, Size of Team, Hardware-Software requirements, supporting documents, approval, work plan
Specification: A 'functional' specification is a blueprint or a detailed plan of the website. After carefully considering business and user requirements, the next stage will be to form a website specification. All the things should be taken into consideration like how will be the menu, content and overall structure of the website. A designer gets information on what should be presented and the programmer concentrates on functionality. Design and Development: Drawing from the information gathered in the above two stages, it's time to determine the look and feel of your site. The web designer will create one or more prototype designs for your web site.
A lot of suggestions and changes to be made are exchanged between the client and designer at this stage. Design is concerned with how the website looks and if it fits the client requirement. User Experience (UX) and Usability both come into play here. And once the layout/design is finalized, it will be safe to move to the next step of developing. The developmental stage is the point where the website itself is created. The developer takes all graphic elements from the designer and uses them to create an actual functional site. Developing requires a lot of technical knowledge and programming. Content writing for the website is also done in this stage. You can hire professional content writers or write the content yourself. Close interaction between the design and development team is necessary at this stage.
Testing and Delivery
At this stage, the entire web development team comes together to have a close look at minute details and test the website.
Following is a checklist of things to test on your website before launching/delivery: (there are various tools and testers available online)
- Flexibility (Try varying window sizes and font sizes)
- Speed (accesses the site via a modem & check image size specification)
- Validation (validates HTML, CSS and check for broken links)
- Browser Independence
Once the website passes the testing phase, it is time to deliver the site. An FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program is used to upload the website files to your server. After your website is uploaded to your server, the site should pass through a final last run trial to confirm if all files have been uploaded correctly and make sure the site continues to be fully functional. This stage marks the launch of your website; it's now viewable to public.
Promotion and Maintenance: Once a website is launched and visible to the public, the next step will be promoting the website to get visitors/traffic to the site. Various SEO/SEM techniques can be used to increase site visibility and drive targeted traffic (many web design firms offer these services). This is a very important step, because even though you have a website, it is important for people to find your site.
Another important aspect is 'maintenance' of a website. Continuously upgrading a site with fresh content and features will increase traffic, popularity and visibility. You can continue working with your web designers to update information on your website (design firms offer maintenance services at reduced rates) or, if you prefer a more hands on approach, and update your own content whenever required, then a CMS (Content Management System) can be implemented to your website.
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Name: Alan Smith
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