There are numerous steps in the web site design and development process. From gathering initial information, to the creation of your web site, and finally to maintenance to keep your web site up to date and current.
The exact process will vary slightly from designer to designer, but the basics are generally the same.
1.) Information Gathering
The first step in designing a successful web site is to gather information. Many things need to be taken into consideration when the look and feel of your site is created.
This first step is actually the most important one, as it involves a solid understanding of the company it is created for. It involves a good understanding of you - what your business goals and dreams are, and how the web can be utilized to help you achieve those goals.
It is important that your web designer start off by asking a lot of questions to help them undersand your business and your needs in a web site. Certain things to consider are:
Purpose: What is the purpose of the site? Do you want to provide information, promote a service, sell a product?
Goals: What do you hope to accomplish by building this web site? Two of the more common goals are either to make money or share information.
Target Audience: Is there a specific group of people that will help you reach your goals? It is helpful to picture the “ideal” person you want to visit your web site. Consider their age, sex, or interests -- this will later help determine the best design style for your site.
Content: What kind of information will the target audience be looking for on your site? Are they looking for specific information, a particular product or service, online ordering?
Using the information gathered from step one, it is time to put together a plan for your web site. This is the point where a site map is developed.
The site map is a list of all main topic areas of the site, as well as sub-topics, if applicable. This serves as a guide as to what content will be on the site, and is essential to developing a consistent, easy to understand navigational system. The end-user of the web site -- your customer -- must be kept in mind when designing your site. These are, after all, the people who will be learning about your service or buying your product. A good user interface creates an easy to navigate web site, and is the basis for this.
During the planning phase, your web designer will also help you decide what technologies should be implemented. Elements such as interactive forms, ecommerce, flash, etc. are discussed when planning your web site.
Drawing from the information gathered up to this point, it’s time to determine the look and feel of your site.