The management of website development projects has evolved over the years. In recent times, many agencies have development their own internal processes and management tools in a way that makes it easy to track time, resources, cost and project activities in order to meet client requirements.
Today, web design companies use project management tools such as Gantt Chart to assist them determine the duration of each stage, the time involved in each activity and an estimate of cost. The benefit of looking at web design in phases is in twofold: it prevents the customer from being surcharged and overcharged; and helps the developer to accurately charge customers to prevent any loss while focusing strategically on the agreed timeline.
What then are the phases of web development? This study will endeavor to provide answers to this question. The phases of a project can be categorized into information gathering, designing, developing and testing.
Gathering information: Firstly, seek information from the client regarding the purpose of the website. The purpose of the website will determine how it will be designed/developed. It will also help determine how much time and cost is will be involved. Usually, an information website takes less time and funds to complete. The opposite is true for an ecommerce website that integrates complex payment systems.
Equally important is the identification of the target audience. This involves specifying the gender, age, sex of the potential visitors to the website. This information will help determine the style of design (fun, corporate, clean, minimalistic etc) and how content is presented.
Planning: In this phase, plans of action with the specification of resources are identified. The number of web designers, the technology and the financial resources required must at this stage be clearly stated. This plan may be in the form of workflow where the web designer creates a list of the requirements in each section. It is always advisable to show the plan to the client if their input or resources will be needed.
Design: This is where the look and feel of the site is created. The company logo as well as color mixes are decided at this stage. The design will need the approval of the client before the website is developed.
Development: This is the stage where the website is developed by taking the separate graphic elements and combining them to produce a live website. The contents are then placed under the appropriate categories of the website.
Testing and launching: This is where the website is placed on a development server for only internal audiences to view and give their opinions based on their viewing differences across different web browsers. The website’s responsiveness is also tested to see if any breaks occur. If the testing is successful, the site will be uploaded to the production server (launched) which now allows the public to view it.
Site maintenance: It is argued that this phase should not be part of the website design process because it is totally a different process with a different budget altogether. However, some web strategists maintain that site maintenance should be done by the web developer at an additional cost.
At each stage of the design and development process, there are different team members involved, who work directly or indirectly in order to complete the project.