Site Construction in Progress

You know what you want to build, you’ve got the experts to build it, and you’ve decided on a brand. The stage is set, so now it’s time to see your vision brought to life.

Proper website creation can follow any number of different models. Like me, you may be going into the process with many of the developmental choices already made. On the other hand, you may have no idea how your site will be put together. Don’t fret; if you don’t already have a process in mind, the following six phases of development should give you a good framework to get started.

Requirements Gathering
Before you go exploring options for your software and design, it’s important to lay out the requirements they will have to meet. Brainstorm with your content producers, managers, and promotion experts. Will the site need to facilitate monetary transactions? Will users be able to register and create accounts? Will it have an RSS feed? How will it be organized? What will the menus look like? The more thorough and specific you are, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to find the best options to suit your purpose.

For the design, you may go to similar or competitor websites and observe the common design elements in use. For development, you may investigate the features and benefits of the different platforms available for your purpose. You may even go to bad websites and take note of the things you don’t like. Regardless of the angle, this stage of development focuses on researching viable options to meet the requirements of stage one. If you haven’t involved them already, this is when your designers and developers should become a part of the process.

If the research phase were window shopping, the decision-making phase would be trying on clothes. Turn a critical eye toward design mock-ups and software demos. Sit down with your experts and carefully weigh the costs and benefits of each option. If a clear winner emerges, go with it and proceed to the next phase. If not, you probably need to go back and do some more research or further clarify your requirements.

If you’ve performed every step up to this point, you should know everything you need to know to get started. Set your experts loose to take the options you’ve chosen and make them a reality. Register your domain name if you haven’t already done so. Set up your hosting, install or develop your software, and skin the site in your chosen design. It may take awhile, and there will more than likely be plenty of bumps along the way, but the result should be well worth the trouble.

In a similar vein as the construction phase, production involves creating the content for your site. In fact, the two phases can usually be performed in tandem. Set your content producers in motion to write the copy, edit the photos, and compose the videos that will comprise the site. Trust me; there’s nothing worse than having “lorem ipsum” filler text after launch.

Once everything is put together, you may think that you’re ready for launch, but you’re wrong. Now is the time to test, test, and test some more. If the site has any interactive functionality, have different people walk through it. If possible, get prospective users who haven’t been involved in the project up to this point and ask them to critique the site. Often, you’ll be able to catch more than a few problems this way.

Building Ward on the Web

Having written a blog before, I had the first three phases of this process ironed out before I even got started. WordPress was a given. Beyond that, I took a few hours to find a professional-looking template that I liked. Many of these decisions were accelerated by the fact that I’m the only decision-maker, thus eliminating the need for discussion. Despite that fact, I did end up test driving a few choices on friends and family before finalizing them. Once the options were set, construction took very little time, with the only hitch being an improper redirect on the addon domain. Producing the content took the longest, since I wanted to write enough to stay far ahead of my posting schedule and give the blog a solid start.

In my next post, I’ll discuss the most exciting step in the process, launching the website.

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