Sometimes it can seem like building a website is some sort of mystical, magical process. And while I do sometimes joke about “working my magic” on websites, it’s not really magic at all. It’s a process, and it’s one that I’ve developed and adjusted over the years (and continue to tweak as needed) to something that works well for my clients and myself. It’s not a perfect process, and it won’t work for everyone – some people need to work differently, and that’s okay. But this is the website development process I try to stick with.
The first step is to make a checklist of sorts – to make sure we have everything we need to begin the project. This includes things like your domain name, hosting, and email requirements, as well as design and functionality requirements. We probably covered some of this during the proposal process, but this is when we get more in-depth to make sure everything is covered.
The next step is to organize all the information collected into a hierarchical and meaningful stricture to make it easy for your website visitors to find what they need.
After a Sitemap is created, the next step is to work on the prototype of the site. This is kind of like a “proof of concept,” where we test to make sure all the desired functionality works as intended before we start designing around it. There have been so many times that designs have had to change because the functionality had to be adjusted. By starting with a plain prototype, we can test all this and the make sure the design fits as needed, not the other way around.
The next phase is where your site really starts to come to life. Depending on the project, this could be when I start working on a custom-coded theme or where I deploy tools like page builders to make the functional prototype beautiful. Every project can be different, so this is the part where the process is a little loose, but we will get across the finish line together.
When all the content is entered, all the images optimized and uploaded, and all the forms and functionality has been tested, it’s time for launch – almost. There’s a pre-launch check that I put all sites through to make sure we’re not missing any steps. This includes testing the site (again) in multiple browsers and on multiple devices.