This week I would like to give a brief overview of the 5 Step Process that a typical website goes through from start to finish.
In this article you will learn step by step what is actually involved to build a great website that meets the needs of the customer(you!).
There is no magic wand or easy push button solution like many companies and services claim to offer.
Building a website requires a complete understanding of your business and how to reach your target market.
Not only that, what do you do when your target market actually shows up? Are you ready to serve them in the best way possible?
You might be thinking that having a website is just buying a domain name and a putting up a bit of contact information. Your website is the main hub of all your online activity and the number one place for you to build customer trust and drive them towards purchasing your product or service.
Let's talk about the 5 step process, and with each I will include the department and or 'person' that is typically responsible for each step.
The 5 Step Website Process
- Discovery (Strategist)
- Design (Graphic Designer)
- Development (Web Developer)
- Deployment (Web Developer)
- Marketing (Sales, Social Media, PPC, etc)
In future articles I will be breaking these down even more. For now, let's just get the basic idea of what each entails.
Step 1. - Discovery
Before anyone starts designing or writing any code, we need to 'discover' what your business is all about. This step is often done by someone with experience building businesses.
A good strategist will ask more than "what colors do you want on your website". They'll ask what product or services you offer, why do you offer them, what makes you the best solution for your customers, who are your customers, and so on.
By gaining a complete understanding of your market and where you stand within that market, we can help you navigate towards the correct path of reaching those potential customers, and delivering them exactly what they need to be converted into loyal customers.
Step 2. - Design
After we've exhausted the Discovery step in the process, we typically move into the design phase.
NOTE: Depending on how much custom functionality is required, we may build a no frills prototype to show you 'how it works' before we start designing.
In the design phase we usually start with wireframes to outline all elements of each necessary page of the website. Once approved, a graphic designer will get their paws on it and take it from black and white wire frames to colorful website mockups.
Step 3. - Development
Now that we have approval on the design mockups, it's time to take those images and make them a real working website.
The development step is very much 'behind the scenes' and involves lot's of coding, implementing of different tools, server setups, etc.
During this phase a team of really nerdy folks(are you surprised at all that this is where I started working with websites?) spend countless hours talking a special language to the computer. There are many different programming languages, subsets, and tools that are used to create a website and this is when that takes place.
Step 4. - Deployment
After painstakingly coding, testing, coding, testing, and then more coding and testing, we have a website that is ready to launch! While we are building your website, we often use a special Development environment that allows us to code on a working website, but is not actually accessible to most people. This way 'the internet' doesn't have their eyes on our work until it's actually ready.
Once it is ready however, it's time to deploy it, aka move all the files, database, etc to the hosting server that it will live on. When it has been moved, we now have a Live or "Production" version of the website and a "Development" version of the website. All future work will be done on the Development version and moved to the Live version as it is approved.
There are a ton of things to consider when moving to the Live server which we'll talk about in a future article.
Step 5. - Marketing
This step can actually be quite a few things besides just Marketing. For example regular maintenance is typically required to keep the website secure, up to date, and backed up correctly. Any website company worth their weight will have an offer to help you manage those things.
That said, those things are not going to bring people to your website, marketing will.
At this phase, it's important to spend time taking actions that will get your message in front of people in order to bring them back to your website. If everything was done correctly in the first 4 steps, those people that are coming to your website should have a real strong chance of converting into a customer.
All the marketing efforts in the world will not matter if you are driving that traffic to a website that was not prepared properly.
What Should You Do Now?
If you are thinking about building a website or updating your existing website, your next move should be talking to a strategist that will help you understand where you are, and how to get where you would like to be.
There are strategists that are also good designers, developers, and marketers, though they do not necessarily have to be any of those. I recommend spending some quality time reaching out to previous customers of anyone you talk to about playing that role in your business before you start working with them.
Stay tuned for future articles where we will deep dive into each of these steps.
If this article was helpful for you, please be sure to sign up for my mailing list and be the first to know about new ones.
Also, if you are ready to take the dive and start talking about your new website, contact me today.