A comprehensive guide – Simple steps to design the perfect website

There are many approaches and frameworks regarding the development process of a website. From gathering initial information to the creation of your site, a lot takes place before the big launch.
Usually, even though the process can vary slightly, the overall operation of developing a complex website generally follow six major stages.

1. Gathering information (purpose, main goals, target audience)

First of all, you need to define your goals and objectives and the scope of the site content.
Certain things to consider are:
• What is the purpose of the website?
• Who’s your target audience? (having a well-defined target market is more important than ever)
• What kind of information will your audience look for?
• What are the main competitors?
• Competitor analysis (strengths and weaknesses)
• What makes you stand out from others?
• Opportunities
• The biggest risks and how can you fight back?
• Staffing costs
• What are the outsourcing fees? (site design and development, marketing, technical consulting)
Keep in mind that a well described and detailed plan can protect you from spending extra resources on solving the unexpected issues.

2. Planning

On the basis of the information gathered in the previous phase, it is time to put together a plan
In this case, you will need to develop a site map, which is a list of all main topic areas of the site, as well as sub-topics. The site map serves as a guide as to what content will be on the site, and is absolutely necessary to developing a consistent, easy to understand navigational system.
Always think about the user/customer when designing the website, because a great and friendly user interface equals an enjoyable and efficient experience.

3. Design

Now you should determine the look and feel of the website.
Once again, the customer and target audience must be kept in mind while you work on a design.
Of course that a software development site will look much more different than one meant for a financial institution. Focus on that!
Very important: incorporate elements such as the company logo and a color palette – the most impactful choices you will make while developing your website aesthetic. This will help strengthen the identity of your company and attract the right customers.

4. Development

Now the functional website itself is created.
All of the individual graphics elements from the previous phase are used to create the functional theme of your website, which establishes the final look and feel. This includes the desktop view as well as the mobile view. Make sure that the site is accessible to as large audience as possible.
Tip: If you are using PHP as back-end programming language we recommend PhpStorm for this stage, which provides you with comprehensive testing capabilities: you can create, manage, execute, monitor and terminate tests from within the IDE. PhpStorm is perfect for working with PhalconSymfony, Drupal, WordPress, Laravel, Magento, Zend Framework, CakePHP, Yii and other frameworks.
Note: an important step is SEO (search engine optimization) – will help your site achieve higher rankings in the search engines. Valid code is pretty important for SEO.

5. Testing and delivery

An important part of the process: every single link should be tested to make sure that there are no broken ones among them. Bear in mind to check absolutely everything!
At this stage you can use Selenium, too, which is a free automated testing tool, Selenium is not just a single tool but a suite of software’s, each catering to different testing needs.
So, CHECK and RE-CHECK your website!
After doing this, it is time to deliver the site. A FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program is used for this purpose. Once your accounts have been set up and your website uploaded to the server it is time for one last run-through. This way you’ll make sure that all the files have been uploaded correctly and your site is functional.
This phase marks the official launch of the site. Now it is viewable to the public.

6. Maintenance

Your website is more a service than a product. Always make sure that everything works just fine and that everybody is satisfied.
Keep your website up to date! This includes regular site backups, updates, additional plugin installation etc.
So, remember to offer updated content on a regular basis.

To conclude

It is important to invest energy and ensure that you are creating a successful website that will help your business grow.
It’s not ok to think that the website development project starts with the coding and ends with the day you finally launch the website. Actually, the post-launch period is the most significant one!

Start delivering quality software on time.