×

Archive

Website Development Checklist

To make sure you don’t miss anything and do work on time, grab this checklist: You should always keep in mind that website development project doesn’t start with coding and doesn’t end after the day you finally launch your website. The phase of preparation affects all subsequent stages, defining how productive the development process will be. A profound and deep discovery of such aspects like age, sex, and interests of your end-user may become the key to success. The post-launch period is rather significant. Your project should be agile and flexible enough to have a possibility to change your website according to users’ feedback or spirit of the time. Keeping in mind that there’s no such thing as insignificant website development phase will prevent you from unexpected troubles and give you confidence that everything flows as it should, and you have full control over the project.

website-development-checklist


Building a Website

Building your own website may sound like a daunting task, especially if you have no prior web design experience. While it is true that if you need a very large or complex site you will certainly want to work with a seasoned web professional, the reality is that for many smaller and basic sites, you may indeed be able to do that work yourself! 

These seven steps will help guide you in building your website.

Step 1: Hosting Your Site

Web hosting is like paying rent for your website’s virtual storefront, including the pages, images, documents, and other resources needed to display that site. Web hosting uses a web server, which is where you put those website resources so others can access them through the Web. You can build a fully functional website on your personal computer, but if you want other people to be able to see it, you will need to use a web host.

There are several types of web hosting options you can choose from, and while many new web designers will gravitate to free web hosting, there can be significant drawbacks to those no-cost services, including:

  • You may get less server space where your pages will be stored. Depending on the size of your site and the resources it needs (video, audio, images, etc), that storage space may not be sufficient.
  • You may be required to run ads on your site.
  • There may be bandwidth limits that could be too restrictive if you get a lot of traffic. In some cases, if you exceed your monthly limit, they may even turn your site off.
  • There are sometimes limitations on the kinds of content you can put on a free hosting provider. For example, some don’t allow Ecommerce websites.
  • Some free hosting providers tack on maintenance and renewal fees to their “free” accounts.

Be sure to read all the fine print before you put your website on any web host. Free hosting providers may end up being good enough for testing web pages or for very basic, personal websites, but for more professional sites, you should expect to pay at least a nominal fee for that service. 

Step 2: Registering a Domain Name

A domain name is a friendly URL people can type into their browser to get to your website. Some examples of domain names include:

  • lifewire.com
  • whitehouse.gov
  • pumpkin-king.com

A domain name provides valuable branding for your site and makes it easier for people to remember how to get to it.

Domain names typically cost between $8 and $35 a year and they can be registered at a number of sites online. In many cases, you can get domain name registration and web hosting services from the same provider, making it easier on you since those services are now contained under one account.

Step 3: Planning Your Website

When planning your website, you will need to make a number of important decisions:

  • The type of site you need: Is this a news or informational site, a site for a company or service, a non-profit or cause-driven site, an Ecommerce shop, etc. Each of these kinds of sites has a slightly different focus that will influence its design.
  • Navigation design: How users will move around your site affects its information architecture as well as the overall usability of that site. Plan out the pages a site, create a sitemap, and develop a navigational structure from there.
  • Content: As the saying goes, “content is king” online. The quality of your site’s content will play an important role in its success. Content is everything that your pages will contain, such as text, images, video and more. Before you start designing or building pages, you should have a clear strategy for the content that those pages will contain.

Step 4: Designing and Building Your Website

This is easily the most complex part of the web page creation process and there are a number of topics to be aware of at this stage, including: 

  • Design Basics: The elements of good and appropriate design and how to use them on websites.
  • Learning HTML: HyperText Markup Language or HTML is the building blocks of a web page. While there are many platforms out there that will code a page’s HTML for you, you’ll do better and have far more flexibility and control if you learn the basics of HTML.
  • Learning CSS: Cascading Style Sheets dictate how web pages look. Learning CSS will help you change the visual appearance of a site to match the design needs of a project.
  • Web Page Editors: Different web page editors will allow you to accomplish different things. HTML and CSS can be written in simple text editors, like Notepad, or they can use software like Adobe Dreamweaver to get some assistance with the pages you are creating. You may also decide to use a Content Management System, like WordPress, to build and power your website.

Step 5: Publishing Your Website

Publishing your website is a matter of getting the pages you created in step 4 up to the hosting provider you set up in step 1.

You can do this with either the proprietary tools that come with your hosting service or with a standard FTP (File Transfer Protocol) software. Knowing which you can use depends upon your hosting provider, but most providers should have support for standard FTP. Contact that hosting provider if you are not sure what they do, and do not support

Step 6: Promoting Your Website

One of the most desirable ways to promote your website is through search engine optimization or SEO. This is because it allows your site to be found by people who are looking for the information, services, or products that your site provides.

You will want to build your web content so that it is appealing to search engines. Additionally, you will want to ensure your site as a whole conforms to search engine best practices. 

Other ways to promote your site include word of mouth, using email marketing, social media, paid search marketing (SEM), and all the traditional forms of advertising. 

Step 7: Maintaining Your Website

Maintenance can be the most tedious part of website design, but in order to keep your site going well and looking good, it needs regular attention and maintenance.

It’s important to test your site as you’re building it, and then again after it’s been live for a while. New devices come on the market all the time and browsers are always updating with new standards and features, so regular testing will ensure your site continues to perform as expected for those different devices and browsers.

In addition to regular testing, you should produce new content on a regular basis. Do not simply aim for “more” content, but strive to create content that is unique, timely, and relevant to the audience you aim to attract.

Website Development Process: Full Guide in 7 Steps

Despite conventional wisdom, the core part of website development and design is not necessary the coding process. Indeed, such technologies as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript give the web we know its shape and define the way we interact with the information. But what usually stay behind the scenes and, at the same time, remain the crucial part of website development life cycle are the stages of preliminary information gathering, detailed planning, and post-launch maintenance.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how the general website development process may look like. The overall number of development stages usually varies from five to eight, but every time the whole picture stays pretty much the same. Let’s choose the average value. So, here are seven main steps: 1) Information Gathering, 2) Planning, 3)Design, 4) Content Writing and Assembly, 5) Coding, 6) Testing, Review and Launch, 7) Maintenance.

Website Development Timeline

When you think of building a website, your thoughts rotate around two main issues – price and time. These two values depend largely on the size and scope of the project. To outline the whole development process, you can create a website development timeline, adding tasks and establishing milestones for your project. It is the best way to track your project implementation to make sure you keep up with the deadline.

For this purpose, we prefer to use GanttPRO – a convenient intuitive Gantt chart for online project planning. See the screenshot below:

website development timeline

We’ve prepared detailed description of the whole website development process, estimated time for each step and a checklist to double check you don’t miss anything.

Website Development Life Cycle

Step 1. Gathering Information: Purpose, Main Goals, and Target Audience

This stage, the stage of discovering and researching, determines how the subsequent steps will look like. The most important task at this point is to get the clear understanding of your future website purposes, the main goals you wish to get, and the target audience you want to attract to your site. Such kind of a website development questionnaire helps to develop the best strategy for further project management.

News portal differs from the entertainment websites, and online resources for teenagers looks different than sites for adults. Different types of websites provide visitors with different functionality which means that different technologies should be used according to the purposes. A well described and detailed plan made on the basis of this pre-development data can protect you from spending extra resources on solving the unexpected issues such as design changing or adding the functionality that wasn’t initially planned.

Estimated time: from 1 to 2 weeks

Step 2. Planning: Sitemap and Wireframe Creation

At this stage of website development cycle, the developer creates the data that can give to a customer an opportunity to judge how the entire site will look like.

On the basis of the information that was gathered together in the previous phase, the sitemap is created. Here is the sitemap of XB Software website:

website sitemap creation

The sitemap should describe the relations between the main areas of your website. Such representation could help understand how usable the final product will be. It can show you the “relationship” between the different pages of a website, so you can judge how easy it will be for the end-user to find the required information or service if he starts from the main page. The main reason behind the sitemap creation is to build a user-friendly and easy to navigate website.

The sitemap allows you to understand how the inner structure of a website looks like, but doesn’t describe the user interface. Sometimes, before you start to code or even work on a design, there’s a necessity to get approval from a customer that everything looks fine so you can begin the next phase of developing. In this case, a wireframe or mock-up is created. A wireframe is a visual representation of user interface that you’re going to create. But it doesn’t contain any design elements such as colors, logos, etc. It only describes the elements that will be added to the page and their location. It’s artless and cheap in production sketch.

You can use any mockup for this purpose. We used Moqups. Here’s how the wireframe can look like:

mockup wireframe example

The other important thing is select technology stack – programming language, frameworks, CMS that you’re going to use.

Estimated time: from 2 to 6 weeks

Step 3. Design: Page Layouts, Review, and Approval Cycle

During the design phase, your website takes shape. All the visual content, such as images, photos, and videos is created at this step. Once again, all the info that was gathered through the first phase is crucial. The customer and target audience must be kept in mind while you work on a design.

Website layout is the result of designer’s work. It can be a graphic sketch or an actual graphic design. The primary function of the layout is to represent the information structure, visualize the content, and demonstrate the basic functional. Layouts contain colors, logos, images and can give a general understanding of the future product.

After that, the customer can review the layout and send you his feedback. If the client is not sure about some aspects of your design, you should change the layout and send it back to him. This cycle should be repeated until the customer is completely satisfied.

Estimated time: from 4 to 12 weeks

Step 4.  Content Writing and Assembly

Content writing and compiling usually overlaps with other stages of website creation, and its role can’t be underestimated.  At this step it is necessary to put in writing the very essence you’d like to communicate to the audience of your website, and add calls-to-action. Content writing involves also creation of catching headlines, text editing, writing new text, compiling the existing text, etc., which takes time and effort. As a rule, the client undertakes to provide website content ready to migrate to the site. It is better when all website content is provided before or during website coding.

Estimated time: from 5 to 15 weeks

Step 5. Coding

At this step, you can finally start creating the website itself. Graphic elements that have been designed during the previous stages should be used to create an actual website. Usually, the home page is created first, and then all sub-pages are added, according to the website hierarchy that was previously created in the form of a sitemap. Frameworks and CMS should be implemented to make sure that server can handle the installation and set-up smoothly.

All static web page elements that were designed during the mock-up and layout creation should be created and tested. Then, special features and interactivity should be added. A deep understanding of every website development technology that you’re going to use is crucial at this phase.

When you use CMS for site creation, you can also install CMS plugins at this step if there’s a need. The other important step is SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO is the optimization of website elements ( e.g., title, description, keyword) that can help your site achieve higher rankings in the search engines. And, once again, valid code is pretty important for SEO.

Estimated time: from 6 to 15 weeks

Step 6. Testing, Review and Launch

Testing is probably the most routine part of a process. Every single link should be tested to make sure that there are no broken ones among them. You should check every form, every script, run a spell-checking software to find possible typos. Use code validators to check if your code follows the current web standards. Valid code is necessary, for example, if cross-browser compatibility is important for you.

After you check and re-check your website, it’s time to upload it to a server. An FTP (File Transfer Protocol) software is used for that purpose. After you deployed the files, you should run yet another, final test to be sure that all your files have been installed correctly.

Estimated time: from 2 to 4 weeks

Step 7. Maintenance: Opinion Monitoring and Regular Updating

What’s important to remember is that a website is more a service than a product. It’s not enough to “deliver” a website to a user. You should also make sure that everything works fine, and everybody is satisfied and always be prepared to make changes in another case.

Feedback system added to the site will allow you to detect possible problems the end-users face. The highest priority task in this case is to fix the problem as fast as you can. If you won’t, you may find one day that your users prefer to use another website rather than put up with the inconvenience.

The other important thing is keeping your website up to date. If you use a CMS, regular updates will prevent you from bugs and decrease security risks.

How important is a fast loading Website

Did you know that the 14 top mobile retail sites in the industry average only a 4.73 second response time? Not only that but Amazon leads them all with a response time of just 2.85 seconds! OK, your website response time might not ever rival Amazon’s but there are a few tricks you can learn for accelerating your website speed.

MAKING A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION

It’s a proven fact that your website speed is the very first impression that you make when a consumer visits your site. In fact, 40 percent of visitors could end up simply abandoning your website if it takes too long to load. You should be aiming for a three-to-five second load time to keep them from letting their fingers do the walking and just walk away. To where? Well, probably right on over to your competitor’s site.

END VISITOR FRUSTRATION

There’s really nothing that can frustrate and even infuriate a visitor to your site like slow speed. It’s not just bad for your visitors but very bad for you as a website owner as well. These days, websites are used not only for doing online business but also for sharing useful information with the rest of the world. Whether you’re a retail website owner, a service provider, a photographer showcasing your work, an artist striving to get your voice heard by others, a teacher or provider of DIY tutorials wanting to share your knowledge, or even a stay-at-home mom starting a blog, it’s seriously important that you have an effective website. And, one of the main factors needed for making any website effective is, of course, speed.

MAKE SPEED A TOP PRIORITY

Let’s face it, the speed of your website can literally make or break it. Speed affects not only your traffic, but also your conversions, page views, sales, and your entire reputation. When you make it faster, you’re improving your business and helping it grow. In fact, recent studies show that a whopping 47 percent of users are actually expecting websites to load in two seconds or less. That’s even faster than Amazon! That’s exactly why website speeds play such an important role in the success of your online business and needs to become a top priority if your goal is standing out from your competition. Speeding it up will not only bring positive results when it comes to your conversions and page views, but you’ll also be providing a much better user experience for your visitors. And, the bottom line is that happy visitors become returning visitors.

SLOW SITES KILL CONVERSIONS

Everybody in business knows that you can’t build your brand and a solid customer base without conversions. And, the sad fact is that a slow website can kill those conversions. Not only do you not get effective SEO via better rankings but you build up a gang of visitors who are angry, dissatisfied, and ultimately only good customers for your competition. Don’t help your competition by having slow loading pages when theres are surely going to be faster. The big names in business have already found out how important speed is for their sites. Shouldn’t you do so, too?

For example:

~ Both retail giants Amazon and Walmart have actually reported a one percent revenue loss from just 100ms of site loading delays.
~ Walmart saw a two percent increase in conversions for every one second improvement in load time.
~ Mozilla reported a 2.2 second page speed increase from speeding up its page load.
~ Recent download figures for Firefox went up by 15.4 percent, which equals $10 million a year.
~ Shopzilla reported a 50 percent operational budget reduction by diminishing the load time of its website pages.

LOAD SPEEDS AFFECT YOUR SEARCH RANK

Do you know how important your site speed is for your SEO? Websites that load quickly, get a higher search engine ranking. That’s is because Google actually tends to prefer faster websites. It prefers them so much that it rewards the fast ones with a higher ranking in the search engine results. In addition, user experiences are another factor included in the ranking algorithm at Google. Therefore, when you boost your website speed and improve the user experience, you’ll eventually be improving your SEO ranking.

This results in higher traffic and attracting a great deal more in the area of quality leads. Those leads can convert to visitors and then to customers. You can expect to increase your overall sales exponentially, generate more revenue, and increase your bottom line.

HTTP REQUESTS

Your website could be slow due to an over-abundance of HTTP requests. When a user visits your site, they’ll be requesting certain files by having their web browser request the specific files from your server via the HTTP protocol. Those files can include CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files. If you have too many of them, there will be a great number of HTTP requests causing your website to slow down. That’s the reason for minimizing HTTP requests by combining the CSS, HTML, and JS scripts, using CSS in place of images (if possible), reducing the number of elements per web page, installing a cache plugin and reducing redirects that are responsible for creating more HTTP requests and increasing the page load time.

SPEED UP TODAY!

If you’re ready for seriously optimizing your website speeds, automatically minifying, compressing and caching your static data (including CSS, HTML, Images, and Javascript), then why not try Togglebox Web Accelerator? It’s not just FREE but requires no setup so you can spend your valuable time focusing on the development of your website. Why waste a ton of time working through lengthy service configuration when you can do it hands-free by turning it on? And, your newly accelerated website will be not only faster loading but also secured via Let’s Encrypt SSL. So, find out how much more effective your site can be when your images, scripts, and web pages become automatically compressed, optimized, and distributed worldwide. Get your accelerated cloud today!

Google start penalizing websites without HTTPS

So, just yet another thing for a final countdown.

First, it was infamous GDPR (btw, does anyone hears ‘bout it after the 25th May, or is just us who hear the community silence?)

Now, Google takes its turn. And, as we all hear, the web is officially going full HTTPS only, and yes, it has been going there for many years. We’ve seen an acceleration in the progress in recent months but we still have a long way to go on our journey of securing all traffic on the internet. Despite the great progress we’re making, and all the valid reasons we should continue to do so, there are people who believe having a secure web is not the right thing to do.

Less than one month from today, on July 23, out beloved Google will start prominently labeling any site loaded in Chrome without HTTPS as “Not Secure”.

Google has announced its plans back in February, and back then, the percent of sites loaded over HTTPS clocked in at 69.7%. Just one year prior to that only 52.5% of sites were loaded using SSL/TLS—the encryption protocol behind HTTPS — tremendous progress has been made!

Unfortunately, quite a few popular sites on the web still don’t support HTTPS (or fail to redirect insecure requests) and will soon be flagged by Google.

HTTPS IS THE NEW BLACK

Just go and scan Alexa Top 1 Million, the million largest sites on the wild wide web, and measure many different metrics about their security. The growth of HTTPS is not only being maintained but it’s actually accelerating.

No matter which way you look at the data, and no matter which way you measure it, usage of HTTPS is going through a huge growth phase right now. In the 6 months up to that report, we saw a 32% growth in the use of HTTPS in the top 1 million sites.

Mozilla tracks anonymous telemetry from Firefox browser and they have seen a staggering growth in the rate of pages being loaded over HTTPS.

The data shows that 75% of page loads in Firefox now take place using HTTPS instead of HTTP.

Last but certainly not the least, the biggest browser of them all also reports the exact same thing. Chrome telemetry puts the figures pretty much right on 75% too.

This trend has been showing for a long time. In fact, there isn’t any data I can find that shows there was ever a decrease in the amount of HTTPS on the web. It has always been increasing since as far back as data goes so this is nothing new, we’re just making much better progress in recent years.

Cloudflare people spent some time scanning the top one million sites too, and here’s what they learned about the 946,039 reachable over plaintext (unencrypted) HTTP.

If you were to ask the operators of these sites why they don’t protect themselves and their visitors with HTTPS, the responses you’d get could be bucketed into the following three groups: “I don’t need it”, “it’s difficult to do”, or “It’s slow”.

And guess what? None of these are legitimate answers, but yes — they’re common misconceptions so let’s take each in turn.

MYTH #1: “HTTPS IS DIFFICULT TO DEPLOY”

This was true.. in the mid-1990s. But hey, today, in2018, we can all honestly say that things have changed for the better.

Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then. Today, you can protect your site with HTTPS in a matter of seconds, for free, either by signing up for Cloudflare or using a CA such as Let’s Encrypt.

MYTH #2: “I DON’T NEED HTTPS”

This argument is the most puzzling, especially when spouted by people who should know better. Even if you don’t care about performance (see myth #3), surely you care about the safety and privacy of those visiting your site.

Without HTTPS, anyone in the path between your visitor’s browser and your site or API can snoop on (or modify) your content without your consent. This includes governments, employers, and even especially internet service providers.

If you care about your users receiving your content unmodified and being safe from maliciously injected advertisements or malware, you care about — and must use — HTTPS.

Besides safety, there are additional benefits such as SEO and access to new web features: increasingly, the major browser vendors such as Apple, Google, Mozilla, and Microsoft, are restricting functionality to only work over HTTPS. As for mobile apps, Google will soon block unencrypted connections by default, in their upcoming version of Android. Apple also announced (and will soon hopefully follow through on their requirement) that apps must use HTTPS.

MYTH #3: “HTTPS IS SLOW”

Lastly, the other common myth about HTTPS is that it’s “slow”. This belief is a holdover from an era when SSL/TLS could actually have a negative performance impact on a site, but that’s no longer the case today. In fact, HTTPS is required to enable and enjoy the performance benefits of HTTP/2.

Detractors typically think HTTPS is slow for two primary reasons:

1) It takes marginally more CPU power to encrypt and decrypt data; and

2) establishing a TLS session takes two network round trips between the browser and the server.

When HTTPS content is served from the edge, typically 10-20 milliseconds away from your users in the case of Cloudflare, SSL/TLS enabled sites are incredibly fast and performant. And even when they are not served from an edge provider it bears repeating that SSL/TLS is not a performance burden! There’s really no excuse not to use it.

Pro tip: Advanced users should also consider using HSTS to instruct the browser to always load your content over HTTPS, saving it a round trip (and page load time) on subsequent requests.

If you’re trying to protect your and your customers’ online privacy and security, reach out to us at AltusHost.com and we can help you with this process.