Despite conventional wisdom, the web development life cycle outsteps coding. Read on to learn what stages you need to go through before launching a website.The overall number of steps usually varies from five to eight, but the whole picture stays pretty much the same. In this article, we will outline The Loupe’s version of the process, which comprises 7 phases of web development life cycle. However, it can be utilized by anyone, regardless of who he or she hires to design the website. Basic understanding of methodologies will allow you to check whether everything flows as it should.
Stage 1. Research
This is the most important phase, as it determines what all the posterior steps of web development will look like. It involves a clear understanding of the goals you wish to achieve, the target audience you hope to attract, etc. Such things should be clarified in a website brief, which covers the type, purpose and functionality of the future website. Is it going to provide information, promote a service, or sell a product? Who is the “ideal” visitor of your website? Answering these questions can prevent you from design changing or adding extra functionality.
You will need:
a website design brief
a technical specifications
content (texts, photos, translations)
Corporate Identity Manual (Brand Style Guide)
If you do not have a website design brief, The Loupe will help you create it. Note, that complex projects also require technical specifications. They can be set by either a client or our web studio (at extra cost). At this point, you can provide us with content (texts, photos, translations) and the Corporate Identity Manual (Brand Style Guide) or commission The Loupe to produce those. In such a case, additional fee will be calculated.
Stage 2. Planning
Now that we have all the necessary information, it is time to develop a sitemap. This serves as a guide on topics and sub-topics of the website and helps understand how usable and easy-to-navigate the final product will be. Though the sitemap shows the inner structure of the website, it does not describe the user interface. Therefore, the UI/UX designer uses our best practices to create a mock-up for each type of devices (desktop, smartphone, and tablet). It is a visual representation of the user interface, which shows the elements that will be added and their location.
During the planning phase of web development life cycle, we also discuss what programming language, content management system (CMS), interactive forms and frameworks should be implemented. Selecting a proper technology stack is crucial for a smooth user experience.
Stage 3. Web Design
At this point, your platform takes shape. We create a website layout, which is either a graphic sketch or an actual graphic design. It contains colors, logos, images and demonstrates the basic functional. The layout’s primary purpose is to visualize the content and informational structure of the website. The key factor taken into consideration is target audience. A website developed for a financial institution will differ from the one aimed at teenyboppers in both look and feel.
Once the layout has been developed, the client gets the opportunity to express their opinion. According to Romain Kovbasuk, our UI/UX design expert, customers often find it difficult to tell a good web design from a bad one at first glance. Though many people believe that the key factor is “cool” graphics, the most attractive websites are not necessarily effective. That’s why Roman recommends to focus on usability, not beauty in itself.
Romain Petrowski, online marketing expert, states that good web design is the one that contributes to a self-absorbing user experience, which can be measured by various performance metrics. But most importantly, it should coincide with the goals you set for your future website.
Tetyana Karpenko-Duebbers, expert on computer mediated interaction, CEO at The Loupe, lays special emphasis on the intuitive interface. She explains that a website should be easy to navigate, otherwise users will get lost in pictures, menus and options. In addition, web design has to be target-oriented, which usually implies multilinguality. According to Tetyana, it might be a challenge for unexperienced web designers, but a multilingual website is still a must for any business that hopes to withstand competition.
If the website design does not match your expectations (which should not happen, if the planning phase was done properly), we will return to stage one and repeat the web development lifecycle until you are completely satisfied.
Stage 4. Coding
This is when the development begins. Our programmers turn all the graphic elements designed for the prototype into an actual website. As a rule, they start from the home page and then proceed to interior pages, according to the sitemap’s hierarchy. Besides, we make HTML markup for desktop and mobile devices, integrate or develop a content management system (CMS), add special features (e.g., shopping carts, payment solutions, interactive contact forms, etc.). These maximize functionality and accessibility for the target audience.
The Loupe specializes in creating websites with custom custom design, which are tailor-made for business owners who do not intend to learn how to code or have a programmer on staff. The developers build all the front-end code from scratch, and then customize it to one of the open source CMS, empowering the website with the very features and plug-ins a particular business needs.
Here are some of our works:
“It is a super job; the website is easy to manage. Even my dog got it immediately and was able to put two photos online! I think with a website like this one has a good mind to make photos and share them.”
“Understanding of customer needs, high flexibility, proactive problems solving, pro-consumer approach, great service.”
Maciej Karczewski, Ancien Cinéma Café-Club
The choice of the CMS depends on the type of website we are developing: WordPress is opt for blogs, OpenCart – for online stores, Drupal – for business card websites, etc.
Learn which CMS is better for your site here.
As our clients are interested in top search engine rankings, The Loupe programmers focus on the high quality code, fast loading and mobile optimization. The latter is especially important, because search engines favor mobile friendliness and «punish» those who fail to provide it. Even if your link profile is flawless and you are constantly updating your website, the search engine will still put mobile-friendly sites ahead of it. If you still doubt mobile optimization is a must, click here.
Stage 5. Testing & Review
After it is all done, The Loupe checks and re-checks every single link to ensure there are no broken ones. Testing goes through all browsers and mobile devices, as we need your website to be cross-platform compatible. The highest priority task is to grant the complete functionality of forms and scripts, regardless of the way the website is viewed.
Testing is followed by demonstration via our hosting. The client has five days to approve the website. If the customer wants to change the final design, we get back to coding and make adjustments (for additional fee).
Stage 6. Delivery & Launch
Having your approval, The Loupe can deliver the website to your server. It might be done in three different ways:
a) you provide us with access to your hosting and domain registration and we do all the work to launch your website;
b) you grant us access to a subdomain created on your website, we deliver the website, but it is your specialists who transmit it to the main domain and launch;
c) we send you an archive file with all data, and your specialists launch the website.
The final step is making the website viewable to the public. You can launch it yourself or entrust this task to The Loupe.
If you already have a website, but your business has outgrown it, you might consider relaunching. It involves changing the overall look and structure of your website. A website relaunch makes it more visible in search engines and goes hand in hand with the best practices of target reorientation. Here is a short checklist, which will help you perform a successful website relaunch:
optimize navigation so that any user could reach their goal within no more than five clicks;
remove all unwanted links in your backlink profile;
redirect users to the new subpages with a 301 redirect;
provide internal linking;
increase the loading speed of your website;
take care of multilinguality;
“update” your graphics.
Stage 7. Maintenance (Optional)
The development process is not necessarily over, though. If you are interested in creating, improving or maintaining a website, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team has years of experience in hosting, technical support, content management, SEO, branding and digital media campaigns. Together with great UI/UX design (based on our unique methodologies) and programming, these make a full web development life cycle.
Read more about our web development services.