Website Development Planning Process

Website Development Planning Process

Last Edited April 24, 2018 by Garenne Bigby in Blog

Before launching a website, the planning process is vital to ensuring everything goes smoothly down the road. In this day and age, there are so many sites out there on the internet. It is almost impossible for a business to do well without having a website that works well for both the company and its clients. Interestingly enough, there is a lot to be done before the coding of a website takes place. There are many steps which need to be followed for it to be properly developed. The purpose of development planning is to make sure nothing is forgotten.

There are seven steps that should be followed from start to finish when developing a website.

  1. Research and goal setting

  2. Planning

  3. Designing the layout

  4. Writing the content

  5. Coding

  6. Testing and launching

  7. Maintaining

The last step involves updating and doing maintenance on the website often, even after it has been launched to ensure it is still working properly. An effective website means that visitors will be more likely to become loyal customers.

Planning a website can take a lot of time and effort. It can also cost money to launch a website. The two most important factors that need to be taken into consideration are time and money. During the planning process, it is a good idea to make a timeline or have a goal of how long you might need to spend on each step. The more time that is taken during the first few steps of planning, the less you will have to do in the long run.

Website Development Planning Process


Website Development Planning Process


1. Research and Goal Setting

As with any project, it is important to do proper research and set goals before beginning. By setting goals, it will help the website to have a direction and will also help your business to achieve specific accomplishments. The planning and goal setting process could take about 1-2 weeks to complete. It is a very important first step to creating a website that sells. There are a few questions you should ask yourself during this phase: 

What do I hope for my website to accomplish?

Who is the audience I would like to target?

What are the main goals of the website? 

By setting goals for your website, you will be helping the site to have a clear direction and purpose. This is important to the rest of the steps. When setting your goals, you should think about outlining what you would like the rest of the steps to look like. Step 1 will guide you through the rest of the process smoothly.

The research part of this step has a few different purposes. There are so many examples out there that it might be beneficial for you to look at and use some of the websites of your competitors. This can help you to determine what you want and don’t want your website to have. It is also important to do some research on the target audience you hope to draw in.

Different age groups may be looking for something different when they visit a website. Understanding what your audience wants is crucial to planning the rest of your website. It is also important to research keywords you’d like to use with your website. By developing your website with SEO in mind, you will save yourself a lot of work in the future.


2. Planning the Site

Planning the website involves creating a wireframe and sitemap. This is an important step because it is kind of like the skeleton of your site. This process can take about 2-6 weeks to complete. The sitemap allows the developer to get an outline of what the site will look like, what pages there will be and how they will interact with each other. This not only helps with planning but is also beneficial to the user experience.

A user should be able to easily navigate a site, and this begins with the development of the sitemap. Before you begin to plan content, a sitemap lets you design what the structure will look like. Once the sitemap is completed, the other part of this step is to create a wireframe or mock-up. These are just visual representations of what the site will look like. This does not include the layout details. That comes next.


3. Designing the Layout

The details of the layout are what will give your website character. This is the step where you get to be creative with pictures, videos and what kinds of things the customer will notice when they come to your site. This process can take about 4-12 weeks from start to finish. The timing depends on experience, time spent on the project, and how thorough the developer is. During this step, it is especially important to keep referring back to the target audience you wish to focus on.

Consider colors, logos, and anything that will encourage your audience to interact with the site. By considering how you will create the layout of the website, you are attempting to bring the website to life. It should help the audience to get a feel for your business or product. Please note this step does not yet involve written content. That is the next step. The written content is so important that it needs its own step.  


4. Writing the Content

This step may be going on simultaneously with the other development planning steps. The written content of a website is so important to its success. While this step may be happening during other steps, it is one that is crucial and deserves a lot of expertise. It could take from 5 to 15 weeks. The written content on a website is going to help a visitor determine their next steps. It is vital to drawing customers in and keeping them. There is a lot to consider when working on the content of the website.

When determining what words to use, it is important that they are not too hard to understand. A general rule is that you have to assume not everyone is going to want to read words that are higher vocabulary. A website should have a vocabulary that the average person can understand.

Again, considering the target audience is extremely important, especially when it comes to the text being used to give customers information. This can determine what kinds of words and voice will be used in the writing, which can create the mood for the content, whether it be good or bad. It also involves creating catchy titles and headlines to draw people in.

Additionally, it is also a good idea to be well-versed in writing a call-to-action. This is what you want the user to do after reading the content on the site.  The content should get customers excited about buying a product or service. A website that has well-written content is going to be much more successful than ones that do not.


5. Coding the Website

Now that all aspects of your website have been created, you are ready to actually begin creating the website itself. The coding typically begins with the homepage and gradually branches out to the other pages included in the site. This would be where the sitemap is followed to ensure everything is coded correctly. The coding step could take from 6 to 15 weeks, depending on how much content and how intricate you would like your website to be. It is also important to set up frameworks and CMS to make sure that everything will fit onto the server during the installation process. You wouldn’t want to do all that work only to find out it doesn’t fit.

Once the website is laid out according to the sitemap, it should be tested before moving any further. If all works well, then the rest of the content should be added, and formatting should be completed. This phase involves having a deep understanding of the technology you are using. In fact, if you are looking to do most of the work yourself, you should at least consider getting a developer to code for you, so that you can make sure everything works as planned.

During coding, don’t forget to consider factors such as SEO, CMS plugins, and any additional tools you might be using for analyzing and testing the website in the future. If you consider these things now, you will save yourself time and energy later. By keeping SEO in mind, you will get better results, and more people will be exposed to your page. Anything worth doing is worth doing right.


6. Testing and Launching

Before the website is launched, it is crucial that it is tested out by real users. All the links and content should be tested to see if it works. Not only is it important to test out all the buttons and everything on the site, but it is also important to test out what users think of it. There is user testing that can be completed to make sure the website is giving users what they need to be successful on the test.

Again, there are tools that can be used to determine if anything needs to be changed. Make sure to check all written content, including spelling and grammar. If your website has forms, ensure that they are working correctly as well. These might be important ways the users can get in touch with you or sign up for alerts and messages. Without these working properly, it can be very difficult for the user and also will be difficult for you to have a successful website.

Don’t just check the website once, but check it over multiple times. When you are confident that everything is in working order, you can go ahead and launch your website live. When it comes to launching, you are finally ready and can do this by uploading it to the server. You will need FTP (File Transfer Protocol) for this process. It is also important to make sure everything is running smoothly immediately after launching. Testing and launching may take 2-4 weeks to complete.


7. Maintenance

You might think your job is done once the website is launched, but this is not the case. Since technology and products are changing more rapidly than ever before, it is important to stay up-to-date with what is happening on the internet. Maintaining a website is hard work, but the more effort put into its maintenance, the better. There are a few different pieces to website upkeep.

For one, it should constantly be checked out for errors. When a user encounters an error, this may be frustrating and may cause them to find what they are looking for somewhere else. Errors can also completely block them from the information they need to make a decision on purchasing a product or service. This is why it is important to not only test your website for user experience before the launch, but after as well.

User-experience should be tested often, and it should be ongoing. This will ensure that if something comes up, it can be fixed right away. A website that has constant broken links or outdated content will not make its users happy. By having regular maintenance on a website, bugs can be fixed as soon as they are detected. A problem cannot be fixed if it is not known. An unhappy user means that you are losing current or potential customers.

Another important aspect of maintaining a website is to ensure that all content is current. This means that the correct information is on the website such as contact information, pricing, and customer reviews. By giving bad or outdated information, a customer will not be able to get in touch with the business owner, complete a purchase, and it can be frustrating.

While maintaining a website can be important, it might seem like hard work. It is important to know that there are many tools out there that can be downloaded right onto the website. Reports can be sent daily or in other time increments to give you data and information about how the site is performing.


Do I Need to Hire a Professional?

There are a couple of things to consider when thinking about hiring a professional to help. The main factors to consider when figuring out if you should hire someone to assist you are time, money, and experience. Depending on the experience you have with the building of websites, you might consider hiring a professional to help you through the whole process or for just a couple of the steps.

If you are ambitious and have time to learn something new, then perhaps this is a great opportunity. It is also important to be aware that there are many online tools that can help you during the development phase. There are also many online tools that can be used to help maintain and update your website as well.

You also have to take into consideration the time it takes to build a good website. Chances are, if you would like to get your website up and running as quickly and as effectively as possible, you might want to consider hiring something. If you have a lot of time and a lower budget, then doing the work yourself is possible. Building a website is a long process and may take some time, so if you have the time to spend on it, go ahead and do it yourself. Be sure to do your research beforehand about what it takes to build a website and the different options you have.

Another factor to consider is your budget. If you have a budget that allows for hiring a professional, this could free up your time to be spending on other aspects of your business. You also want to make sure that the money you spend on your website is going to be worth it and help your business to become more profitable. Take the time to consider whether or not hiring someone is right for you.


Final Words

Now you know the steps it takes to begin developing your website. This can be a lengthy, but very rewarding process. By following these steps, you can ensure that the website you launch does its job, which is to help your business be successful. It is also important to keep in mind that once your website is launched, your job is not done. Maintaining a website is an ongoing and important step that will help your customers to be happy and keep coming back. Remember to take your time during these steps and get your website created properly the first time. By following the steps above, it will save you lots of time and frustration in the future.

 

Garenne Bigby
Author: Garenne BigbyWebsite: http://garennebigby.com
Founder @dynomapper
Garenne Bigby is freelance Chicago developer and founder of DYNO Mapper with over 10 years experience in both agency and freelance roles in design, development, user experience, SEO, and information architecture.

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