It may come as a shock to some people, but websites aren’t magically created overnight. Depending on how schnazzy you want them to look, they require a lot of time and energy. When creating a website, there’s some clear (and maybe not so clear) steps that need to be taken in order for your site to come out on top. While every designer/developer’s process varies, the overall basics are generally the same.
To get to know the basic ins and outs of what needs to happen in order to get a website created, we generated a nifty step by step list.
Before diving into any website project, there’s a handful of things that need to be taken into consideration.
First things first, when creating a website, you need to have a clear set of goals in mind. What is your purpose of having your site? Do you sell merchandise or provide a service? Are you interested in selling your product, bringing awareness to your brand, or getting people to hear what you have to say? These are the things you should be thinking about when first getting started. Without a goal, your site will not only lack direction and focus, but it will confuse potential clients/customers/users.
So keep these things in mind when starting out:
What’s the purpose of your site?
What are your goals?
Who is your target audience?
What kind of content are you going to be providing?
What kind of platform will your site be on?
Once you have a good sense of what your goals and needs for a website are, it’s time to lay the groundwork for your site through your information architecture. Combined with this is a major step in formulating a clear site-map. Creating a well structured site map will not only provide a great user experience to your users, but will help you when trying to gather the content and copy that will appear on your site.
After you have your information architecture all squared away, it’s time to start gathering all of the content and identity materials that will either be placed on your site, or help get the designer’s creative juices going. Using your site map as a guide, either collect or write whatever content your users are going to see on each page. Just remember to proofread when selecting your copy! Nobody likes to see blatant spelling and grammar errors. Not only do you lose credibility, but you end up looking rather silly.
One last caveat: when deciding on your site’s information architecture, and gathering your content, it’s important to keep your user in mind. They are the ones, after all, who are going to be using your site and learning about what you have to offer. When you give some extra thought to how your user will interact and navigate throughout your site, it will show in the end product, with your users ultimately having a better user experience.
The next step in the overall process is determining the overall look and feel for you website. The designer takes into consideration previous conversations from the discovery phases, your information architecture, and any important branding/identity materials you or your company have provided. This is where the importance of a well thought out discovery phase lies. Having a clearly laid out idea of who you are targeting, what your goal/purpose is, and what you are doing, will help direct how your website will look and how it will function. Taking from everything in steps one and two, the designer then creates a mockup of what your site will look like. From there, the design can then be reviewed, and revised accordingly to match both your needs and your taste.
When you have a design set in place, your site will finally start to feel like it is taking shape. The next phase in the process is starting the development of your site. This is the point when your website itself gets created/coded into an actual functioning site. The amount of development that is done for a site, really depends on what is required of the site in terms of functionality, and what platform you are using. Content Management Systems (CMS), are most common when creating a website, if not using an e-commerce platform to sell products. Once the pages are all coded, and the site is developed out, content is filled into the page, and SEO descriptions are added so search engines like Google can pick you up. However, note SEO isn’t created from just one magical description. SEO depends greatly on your quality of content, your site structure, and other aspects of your site.
Once the site is done being coded, the site needs to be tested to make sure everything is functioning properly. This can include making sure all forms and other scripts are working, and checking to see if there are any compatibility issues with the various browsers being used. Another step of testing includes making sure your code is validated, i.e. that your website’s code meets the current web development standards. Once the site is deemed ready for review, you will get to see your site in all it’s glory! This is the step where you can see the pieces all put together, and see if everything is up to par with what you want. When ready, the site then will be deployed, and live for the world to see!
But wait, there’s more! Just because your website is up and running, doesn’t mean you’re done for good. In order to keep your website up to date, and running at peak efficiency, you need to keep up with maintenance. This can include platform updates, content updates, and other changes/additions to your website. Making sure your site is kept up to date with relevant, quality content is a sure way to make sure your site stays on the map and retain regular visitors. After all, what good is a site if it’s out of date and can’t be found?
As you can see, websites are more than just throwing some words up on a page with some code and hoping for the best. The more effort you put into your website, the better it is going to be. To ensure your website is successful, and meeting your goals, careful planning is a must. If you’re interested in creating a website, or have questions on the process of building a website, feel free to contact us at the nest! We’re always happy to get you on your feet when starting a new project.