Professional website development and how to navigate the process can be a daunting and intimidating undertaking. And it’s no wonder; the resulting product is crucial to business owners as the final results directly impact your business. 48% of people cite “web design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of the business.” As such, a successful website project should be an accurate reflection of your organization; one that is accurate, useful, and flattering to your company and its audience.

To better understand the process of web development and design, we’ve broken the process down into five steps that make the big picture of website development a little easier to view.

Step One: Ask some hard questions.

Questions that commonly arise in the early stages of web development are, “Where do we begin?” “Do we have to abandon our current site?” and “What do we want the outcome to be?” These questions are essential to explore as the answers are important to the function and focus of the website you’re creating.

We have a website. Does my company need a new website?post it notes and question mark stacked on yellow background

If you already have a website, give it a thorough evaluation. What are the current website’s pros? What are its cons? Be sure to review your site’s analytics to understand where its strengths and weaknesses lie. This helps you to understand the website’s capabilities and help to focus on how those capabilities should evolve in the next project.  

We don’t have a website. Does my company need a website?

If you don’t have a current website to review, study multiple websites that you use often. Consider what appeals to you and what doesn’t. Do you need e-commerce capabilities? Are chatbots a good idea? Can it transition from desktop to mobile smoothly? It’s a good idea to identify your website’s objective clearly and have a few ideas on what you’d like and don’t like before speaking with digital agencies.

As you review different sites, take note of what you’d like to incorporate into your project. Have a list of actionable items that are important for the success of your website development project.

Step Two: Work with a Trusted Digital Agency

Finding a digital agency that fits your needs best is important; web development agencies are not created equally. Many digital companies vary in knowledge base, area of expertise and focus and experience. As you evaluate digital agencies to partner with on your next web development project, consider asking these questions to find a firm that best suits your organization and goals.

Do they specialize in the CMS I want to use?

One important consideration is knowing the pros and cons of the content management system your website will use when selecting an agency to work with. For example, at North Studio we’re known for building elegant Drupal websites among other open source content management systems. Other digital agencies may focus primarily on WordPress or Joomla. Still others may prefer to take on e-commerce clients only and have expertise primarily in Shopify or Magento. Every CMS has strengths and weaknesses; a trusted digital agency will make a recommendation to you based on your specific goals, needs and available resources.

Do they support other clients in my size or industry?

Woman thinking at laptopIn addition to the content management system, the agency should be relevant to the scope and size of your business and expertise of your staff. For example, if you’re reviewing a website building company and notice most of their clients are small businesses and you’re a global enterprise, it may not be the best possible fit. Likewise, if you’re a smaller sized business and the agency works primarily with Fortune 500 companies, it may not be the best possible fit for your business.

Do they have a strong history of successful projects?

Web development firms with a proven track record of creating reliable, successful, and amazing websites in your industry will offer multiple case studies and references for review. If they don’t have case studies on their website, be sure to ask.

Can they offer post-development support and maintenance?

Being able to stay with the same company for project design, development, training and maintenance is an easy way to keep your website well-cared for. With experts who are already familiar with the goals of your website and your overall strategy, the cost of maintaining your site should be less than if you move from provider to provider.

Are costs and timelines laid out upfront?

If the cost and timeline presented to you by an agency seem too good to be true, it likely is. As with all things produced with high (or low) quality, the adage of “you get what you pay for” is also relevant in the web development industry. There should be a happy medium of a capable team who can set a reasonable timeline and is able to move the project along.

Do they offer customized design and development strategies?

Your business isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of operation. It’s critical to work with people that have the skills and expertise and can easily customize your project to reflect your needs.

Additionally, when selecting a website agency for your design and development project, be mindful that the relationship you form could be long-term. Consistent, invested eyes that are focused on your business‘s single-most powerful marketing tool, your website, is going to result in continuous goal attainment.

Step Three: Be Part of the Process

bearded men working on a sitemap

Maintaining excellent communication with your website development team is essential throughout the entire website design and building process. Successful websites are more easily accomplished when strong collaborations between the client and the agency are developed and maintained. Be involved with your development team to allow for critical input on the design and execution components being customized to your unique needs. 

Most steps of the website building process require continual adjustments and input from different elements of the process. It is a continual process of testing, followed by research, re-adjustments, and then re-testing again. There may be times where it seems your project is moving in reverse, but, it’s likely just a natural part of the development process. Specific steps of the process typically involve:

Information Architecture: Structural design of the website, including sitemap, SEO strategies, and template design.

Content Foundations: Text for the template, start to gather and create content.

Research Strategy: Analyze competitor and market information. Develop strong SEO foundations and plan UX strategy.

UX and Wireframes: User experience and wireframe implementation. Testing, analyzing, and re-adjusting.

UI and Design: User Interface implementation. More testing, analysis, and tweaking.

Content Integration and SEO: Content is added. SEO strategies are implemented and reviewed. Your website is close to being good-to-go!

Step Four: Launch Party!

You’ve done it! You and your team have worked hard to create a website that (if done with proper care and focus) represents your business well to the world. An accomplishment of this magnitude should not go unnoticed, give your team a shout-out and promote your new website! Easy tips for launching a new website:

  • Talk about it. Promote the new website on your social media channels, in your e-mail campaigns, and by old-fashioned word of mouth to your prospects, clients, partners and industry influencers. Be sure to promote the new site before launch day to generate excitement.
  • Create an Incentive. Celebrate the new site with an exclusive offer only available to visitors accessing the new site. Try offering discounts to people who share reviews about the new site on social media.

Step Five: Ongoing Maintenance

After your new website launches and the confetti has settled, be sure to take care of your investment with an ongoing maintenance plan. Remember, your website is a sophisticated and powerful tool designed for your business to rely on. It’s a high-caliber product that needs proper support to keep running optimally.

For more information on why a maintenance strategy is essential for your website’s health, click here.

Website Development Process Conclusion

Website development is an involved process that creates a product that will represent your business. Be sure to review what you’d like your website to do for you before jumping into the deep-end of website building. Once you have a vision you’d like to create, approach the development process thoughtfully. Be clear on your objectives, partner with an agency that’s compatible with your business, and be patient as well as involved in the development process. And once it’s done, be prepared to handle an influx of customers! 

To develop a strong foundation for your and web design and development project contact us at North Studio. We are a full service web agency developing advanced solutions since 1998. Contact our helpful team here.