Building a Project on the Web
Creating a website is one of the most powerful communication tools available to the modern world. Whether you are sharing your life passion, promoting your business, spreading useful knowledge, or selling products, the possibilities are endless. However, technology has taken the world by storm, and the prospect of diving into the maelstrom can be daunting. Nevertheless, many have crossed the proverbial Rubicon before you with phenomenal success.
The secret lies in a strategic approach, qualified and reliable team members, and a tactical execution of the plans. Here are some basic steps to keep in mind when looking to create and launch a web-based project:
- Assessment – Decide on the Type of Web Site You Need
The type of website you will need will vary according to how you intend to best use the site. Brochure sites are primarily used for restaurants and small businesses to drive traffic to a physical location. They function as a brochure, yellow pages ad, or mail, usually including the businesses basic information (location, hours, etc.) and products. For the selling of products, e-commerce websites revolve around a catalog of the business’s products, allowing the customer ease of access, detailed descriptions and photos, and product reviews. These also include a customer shopping cart and an online payment method. Other sites offer unique services such as searching capabilities, map tools, web hosting, and concierge service reservations. Leaders in the field would include Google, MapQuest, Yelp, and more. Many businesses create sites heavy with text to publish newsletters, articles, bulletins, educational materials, reports, cartoons, and other information. These stimulate traffic with intriguing material and graphics. Some even incorporate e-commerce capabilities with which they charge a visitors’ fee. Before making your final decision, it is important that your objectives are carefully outlined and research is preformed to ensure that you are building a relevant platform to your target audience..
Once you decide on the site that you want, you will need to decide on the features you will offer; the options are endless. Some of the most popular additional features are contact forms, news articles, business process automation, file downloads, and automated customer services.
You will want a thorough listing of these features both functional and additional before you begin coding as adjustments along the way can result in mounting fees and extended time in production.
- Domain and Hosting Services
A domain name will be your website address (URL) and part of your company’s email address. It is optimum for your domain name to be descriptive and memorable. You will need to register a domain name as one of the first steps to proceeding with your website. Hosting a website refers to the provisioning of technical resources needed to make your website available to customers. Generally we recommend that you contract with a hosting company unless your particular needs demand otherwise.
- The Designing Stage
With any business tool, targeting your audience is essential for success. In this stage, you will begin to determine the look and feel of your site based on the information and goals gathered up to this point. Creating one or more prototype designs for your website will allow you to exchange ideas and ensure that the final website will match your needs and tastes.
- The Development Stage
This is where the coding that many consider to be the "sum total" of everything that goes into web designing takes place. This begins by taking all of the individual graphic elements from the prototype and applying them to the functional site. One begins with the home page followed by a “shell” of interior pages. This shell, containing the main navigational structure for the website, serves as a template for the content pages of the site. Once the shell is complete, content can be distributed throughout the site in the appropriate areas. Tools such as a CMS (Content Management System), interactive contact forms, or e-commerce shopping carts are implemented and made functional to allow for testing before launch.
- Testing and Launch
Thorough testing is essential part of the production process, and is one of the most neglected parts of web development. It should include the testing of the complete functionality of forms or other scripts as well as full browser and mobile compatibility testing. A developer should also test for valid code to confirm that your site meets the current web development standards, preform security checks as appropriate to your site's requirements, ensure that proper caching and CDNs are enabled to achieve your desired load-time, and ensure that any marketing related tools are working. Once you are satisfied that everything is working properly, it is time to turn the site live.
Having a maintenance plan is necessary for the upkeep and success of your site. This can include analytics, updates, security checks, marketing promotions, and content production. There are many tools available for each of these, but conscientiousness and that of your maintenance team is the most important provision for the long-term achievement of your website.