Web page Development Life Cycle
Gathering Information: Purpose, Main Goals, and Target Audience
This stage, the stage of discovering and researching, determines how the subsequent steps will look like. The most important task at this point is to get the clear understanding of your future website purposes, the main goals you wish to get, and the target audience you want to attract to your site. Such kind of a website development questionnaire helps to develop the best strategy for further project management.
Planning: Sitemap and Wireframe Creation
At this stage of website development cycle, the developer creates the data that can give to a customer an opportunity to judge how the entire site will look like.
The sitemap should describe the relations between the main areas of your website. Such representation could help understand how usable the final product will be. It can show you the “relationship” between the different pages of a website, so you can judge how easy it will be for the end-user to find the required information or service if he starts from the main page. The main reason behind the sitemap creation is to build a user-friendly and easy to navigate website.
The sitemap allows you to understand how the inner structure of a website looks like, but doesn’t describe the user interface.
Design: Page Layouts, Review, and Approval Cycle
During the design phase, your website takes shape. All the visual content, such as images, photos, and videos is created at this step. Once again, all the info that was gathered through the first phase is crucial. The customer and target audience must be kept in mind while you work on a design.
Web page layout is the result of designer’s work. It can be a graphic sketch or an actual graphic design. The primary function of the layout is to represent the information structure, visualize the content, and demonstrate the basic functional. Layouts contain colors, logos, images and can give a general understanding of the future product.
Some customers may be interested only in a full functional prototype. In this case we may need to show them the interactivity of the application or site. But in most of the cases, the customer may be interested in viewing two or three design alternatives with images and navigation.
Be prepared to note down quite a lot of suggestions and changes from the customer side. All the proposed changes should be finalized before moving into the next phase. The revisions could be redisplayed via the web for the customer to view.
Content Writing and Assembly
Content writing and compiling usually overlaps with other stages of website creation, and its role can’t be underestimated. At this step it is necessary to put in writing the very essence you’d like to communicate to the audience of your website, and add calls-to-action. Content writing involves also creation of catching headlines, text editing, writing new text, compiling the existing text, etc., which takes time and effort. As a rule, the client undertakes to provide website content ready to migrate to the site. It is better when all website content is provided before or during website coding.
At this step, you can finally start creating the website itself. Graphic elements that have been designed during the previous stages should be used to create an actual website. Usually, the home page is created first, and then all sub-pages are added, according to the website hierarchy that was previously created in the form of a sitemap. Frameworks and CMS should be implemented to make sure that server can handle the installation and set-up smoothly.
All static web page elements that were designed during the mock-up and layout creation should be created and tested. Then, special features and interactivity should be added. A deep understanding of every website development technology that you’re going to use is crucial at this phase.
Testing, Review and Launch
Testing is probably the most routine part of a process. Every single link should be tested to make sure that there are no broken ones among them. You should check every form, every script, run a spell-checking software to find possible typos. Use code validators to check if your code follows the current web standards. Valid code is necessary, for example, if cross-browser compatibility is important for you.Unlike software development, web based applications need intensive testing, as the applications will always function as a multi-user, multi-tier system with bandwidth limitations. Some of the testing which should be done are, Integration testing, Stress testing, Scalability testing, load testing, resolution testing and cross-browser compatibility testing. Both automated testing and manual testing should be done without fail.
SEO And Social Media Optimization:
This phase is applicable only for web sites. Promotion needs preparation of meta tags, constant analysis and submitting the URL to the search engines and directories. There is a detailed article in this site on Search Engine Optimization, for further read. The Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing is normally an ongoing process as the strategies of search engine may change quite often. Submitting a site URL once in 2 months can be an ideal submission policy. If the customer is willing, then paid click and paid submissions can also be done with additional cost.
Maintenance: Opinion Monitoring and Regular Updating
What’s important to remember is that a website is more a service than a product. It’s not enough to “deliver” a website to a user. You should also make sure that everything works fine, and everybody is satisfied and always be prepared to make changes in another case.
Feedback system added to the site will allow you to detect possible problems the end-users face. The highest priority task in this case is to fix the problem as fast as you can. If you won’t, you may find one day that your users prefer to use another website rather than put up with the inconvenience.