If you can’t do a website on your own, you would probably hire a web development company. They would handle making the site from planning up to the launching. Hiring a professional does not mean that you shouldn’t know what is happening though. Most development firms will explain the process to you, so you are not in the dark. But they might use jargons and words that you have no idea of.
Here is a simple overview of the process with some details thrown in, so you would know what your web developer is talking about when you have your regular meetings.
Every great endeavor in the business world starts with planning. In making websites, planning includes solidifying the strictures of the whole project. Usually the client is involved in the beginning stages of planning.
What happens during the planning stage? The first thing is you as the client, tells the web development providers what you want. This is not something vague, like you just want to build a website. What the development company wants from you are your objectives. What you hope to achieve by building a website. This might include increasing the sales of your business, or getting people to sign for a newsletter that you offer. This is what the company will want from you so they know what to do.
The next step in the planning process is the brainstorming. The client won’t be involved in this already. This is where the development team of the web development agencies will come up with strategies and techniques they would use to help you reach your goals. This part also means that the target audience of the site will be defined and the data flow is drafted. The team will also talk about how long the project needs to be accomplished and how much it will cost for you.
The plan is put into a proposal and presented to the client. You will then approve or reject their plan. If you have no idea what the proposal is talking about, have them explain the plan to you. The top web development providers will explain to you in detail what they plan to do and how they will help you achieve your goals. Pick a development firm that will let you know what will happen and not just surprise you with the finished results. Read web development company reviews to know which are involving their clients in the process and not steamrolling them over.
Prototyping is essentially more planning done solely by the web development firm, with little feedback from the client. The difference is, it is no longer in paper. In the prototyping stage a skeleton of the real website will be created. A prototype of the real thing will be made. It will be interactive just like a real site, where you can click buttons and navigate the map but it is not the real site. With the prototype, it can be seen if the real site will be able to meet what the client requires. There are six phases to the prototyping stage:
- Structuring the website. This involves mapping your site. Figuring out what pages to put in the site, where to put them and building the pages. The structuring of the site will also include brainstorming the content that will be put in the pages. Like, what products or services will be marketed? Will there be testimonials? Because, if there is, that is another page that has to be structured. After brainstorming the content, navigation is the next thing to be structured. How will the pages be arranged and what will appear on the menu. Which pages will be most important to be on the main navigation? When the main navigation is done, time to move on to the secondary sections. When the pages are structured, notes and specifics will be figured out. What exactly will the pages contain?
- Outline of the information for the main pages. It was mentioned the first phase of the prototyping stage that the content will already be brainstormed. This phase is a more specific process. The information that each of the main pages will contain will be outlined in this stage. These information are basically what you are selling or the services you are offering. Visual design of the pages will also be done in this stage. If there are graphics that will be put in place, it is best to figure those out now. It’s good to anticipate all the things that has to be done as the process goes on.
- Supporting content. Making a website is more than just making a website. To be successful, there are other materials that you also have to produce. That includes making supporting documents like newsletters, emails, case studies, videos and other images. This phase is part of your content marketing plan. This article, Old and New: How to Create a Killer Integrated Digital Marketing Plan, can help you decide what other supporting materials you can do to market your site. After the supporting contents are done, you can now focus on you call to actions. This is what you want your visitors to do. Do you want them to buy your product? Or to subscribe to a newsletter. There are practices that you have to follow to make sure that your call to action buttons are clicked.
- After all the content are finalized, it’s time to focus on the metadata. The metadata works behind the scenes to help with your search engine optimization by putting in keywords in the description boxes, which is the metadata. Description includes tags, which are words or phrases that can be used to summarize the content of your page. Indexing is also done in this phase. That means, categorizing your products to their most specific attributes. An example would be color or size. Indexes will make it easier to search for a certain product.
- After the supporting content, the secondary pages, the target audience has been defined and how the website will engage them, it’s time to focus on the homepage. This is very important because this is what your visitors will first see every time they visit the site. It has to be captivating enough that people will decide to visit the other pages and decide to do what your call to action says. Hubspot talks about the 12 critical elements that your homepage must have. The important thing to remember about designing the homepage is that it should not contain everything. You have to prioritize what will be put there so that visitors will not be overwhelmed. But it has to be enough to pique the curiosity of the visitor so they will stay. Your homepage will be the first impression that people will of your site and your business. Have that impression be a good one.
- The last phase of the prototyping stage is more of an accounting process than prototyping. This is where the web development providers will figure what tools to incorporate to the site. There are many tools and applications that can be used to make the site more effective and efficient. There are marketing automation software, customer relations management, payment gateway and many more. There are also tools to help you get more visitors to your site. All of those will be figured in this phase. And how they will be integrated properly to the website. Another thing that has to be done in this phase is to get all the log-in information of the client so the web development team can access the systems that the client uses for information that will be included in the site.
- An additional step that will include the client is the approval of the prototype. It’s better to show the prototype now to the client to make sure that everything is up to the standards and all the goals and objectives will be met.
Web design can actually occur while the prototype is being done because two different teams will be in charge of the design and the prototype. There are times that the designing stage can even be done before the prototype. Custom web development is a complicated process and requires a lot of people to make it successful.
The design process depends on the web design team but it usually starts with creating boards of ideas and moods. This is another brainstorming stage for the design team where they figure out which colors, images, textures, font types and sizes will be the most effective to achieve the goal of the website. This article will show more detailed steps in the creating successful and beautiful web designs.
A lot of revisions might be done in this stage until the client approves the design. Pick the top web development providers that will let you in on the process as much as possible. Also pick a company that will value your opinions as much as theirs, even if you do not know much about development. You can read web development provider reviews to know which the best ones in the market are.
The web development process will continue in another article.
Looking for the best web development company to make or revamp your site? Check out reviews and rankings at CrowdReviews.com.
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