Web Development Life Cycle

digital-dreams-1155366-1280x960You’ve just met with a client who wants you to design a website for their organization.  You can’t wait to get back to your office.  Your head is abuzz with ideas.  Your fingers are itching to code.  But before you fire up your text editor, you need to stop a minute and reign your enthusiasm back in.

In Web Development, as with all things, the promise of a new project often has you bouncing in your seat, ready to flex your creative muscles.  But in Web Development, as with all things, you don’t want to dive head first into something and start coding like crazy.

What you need is a plan.

That’s where the Web Development Life Cycle comes in.

Depending on the source, there are generally 7 phases in developing a website.

Phase 1: Analysis

The key task in this phase is defining the site’s purpose and target audience.  What is the website’s goal?  To educate?  To promote a product or business?  To help in this phase, research some sites with the same goal as the one you’re developing.  A site geared towards kids will look a lot different than one geared towards adults.

Phase 2: Planning

Determine what you need to make your site work.  What will the overall layout look like?  How will navigation be handled?  What will the timeline be?  How will tasks be divided?  Will the site have a linear, hierarchical, or webbed structure?  In this stage, creating a wireframe and sitemap can be helpful in determining project scope.

Phase 3: Design

Stuff starts to get filled in.  The visual content – images, color choices, etc. – reinforce not only the purpose of the site but also its intended audience.

Phase 4: Content Writing

Lorem ipsum dolor – the ubiquitous Latin words that start the “placeholder” text while the site’s real content is being developed.  In Phase 4, it’s time to ixnay the Latin and replace it with articles, descriptions, whatever visitors will be reading.  This phase, as with the one above, should not be thought of as concrete milestones.  Keep in mind, if the design changes, the content might too.  Both Phase 3 and 4 are fluid phases.

Phase 5: Coding

Fire up that text editor, it’s time to code!  Remember to refer to the sitemap for logical structuring.  Pro-tip: for better SEO, make use of those title, description, and keyword elements.  Also, don’t forget to validate your code.

Phase 6: Testing

Here’s where everything comes together.  If you’ve validated your code, you should have already fixed what needs fixin’.  But perhaps you forgot to go back in and add a link to an a tag.  You’ve got a great looking site, but the hyperlinks don’t take you anywhere.  You can catch mistakes like this in the testing phase.  It’s also best to proofread your site and fix any typos you find.  Once you’ve tested and re-tested everything, it’s time to launch the site.  Upload all associated files to your server and do one final test to make sure everything’s functioning correctly.

Phase 7: Maintenance

A website is not a static thing.  There will be content updates and things the client may want fixed after receiving feedback from visitors.

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