In this fourth article in our series explaining The Website Design Process, we discuss development: preparing the source code that makes your website come to life! If you recall, the design process begins with the Research Phase, where we plan the site’s layout and functionality, based on the goals and requirements determined at the very beginning. From there, we move into the Design Phase, where we focus on how the website will look. The final design produced in the Design Phase is not functional, because we have not yet developed it. That is our goal of Phase Three: Site Development.
This is often what people think about when they talk about getting a website. As you’ve seen in this series so far, the code’s development is only a cog in the wheel. We will pore over links to make sure they take users to the correct page, and that they do not cause any unexpected results. We will pay close attention to formatting and spacing, making sure that the final site is readable and comfortable for visitors.
Testing the Code
Everything in the website design process depends on this one step. Research does no good if we do not implement its findings, and a site that looks great but doesn’t work will never achieve its owner’s goals or be worth its investment. Proper functionality of the site is absolutely critical. If there are broken links or improperly-written code throughout the site, search engines like Google and Bing will not rank the site very highly. All of this means that if the code is not developed properly, the rest of the website design process will also fail to achieve its purpose.
However, testing involves more than a simple “Does it work” test. When we test our websites, we are also testing user experience. We are testing how the website makes users feel when they visit, much like the owner of a brick-and-mortar store will spend considerable time arranging the décor and perfecting the aesthetics of their store. Yes, we make sure the contact form works on your website, but we also make sure people will notice it, trust it, and successfully fill it out. It is a well-known fact of business: if the customer enjoys doing business with you, it is easy for them to decide to come back in the future!
The Final Prototype
The end goal of the Development Phase is a final, fully working prototype of your website. However, it is not yet launched! During the Development Phase, we will host this on a sub-page of Cross City Creations, allowing you to preview and sign off on everything before it goes live. Depending on your needs, we may have a placeholder that prevents customer access while we are doing this work. This allows us to make the site invisible to the public until you are ready to show it off! Since you may be needing a site for a new product launch, this placeholder can make sure that no premature advertisements or sales are made. So, when you’re ready, we can take down the placeholder and launch the site!
- Research Phase
- Gather Website Requirements
- Compare Competitor Websites
- Determine Key Terms, Design Elements
- Design Phase
- Final Design
- Development Phase
- Final Prototype
- Launch Phase
- Satisfy Hosting/Domain Requirements
- Upload Site to Web Server
- Submit Site to Search Engines
- Post-Launch Phase
- Tracking Analytical Data
- Maintain Website Wish List for Next Site Update