The internet has evolved greatly since its birth, and so has the process of developing websites. Long gone are the days where you could slap something self-created on the internet and have no one judge its aesthetics, or care about spending 5 minutes hunting around to find a piece of information. Even today I occasionally stumble across a website that looks stuck in the 90s and find myself clicking away from it as fast as I can, in fear of being left blind from the horrendous color combinations and spinning gifs.
See Also: Shadows of the Old Web
Now that the internet has had the time to mature, one is tasked with making sure a website meets more than just the end goal. One has to add a little thing called strategy to the mix, define the target audience, state the objectives, include a cool moving background element (cough, cough, parallax scrolling) that makes the audience scratch their heads in amazement. So let’s look at a few key process elements that are essential to successful website development.
1. Spend Time Defining All Pre-production Details
It’s crucial to spend time during the planning stages defining each nook and cranny of the website. The more that gets planned upfront, the fewer surprises later. Make this the most time-consuming piece in the process, and make sure all project team members are on the same page.
Here are a few suggested questions to address:
- Who are the primary and secondary target audiences?
- What do you want the user to take away or do as a result of visiting the site (known as Call to Action)?
- What does the user experience look like for mobile?
- What plugins or APIs are going to be used?
- How will the menu be structured?
- How will users flow from page to page?
2. Be Sure to Have the Proper Tools
There are website briefs, mapping tools, visual UX (user experience) programs, flow charts, creative maps, mood boards, design briefs, and the list goes on. Whatever programs or systems are currently in place, be sure they work for the website development process effectively. There’s nothing more frustrating than having tools that don’t work for what you’re trying to achieve.
Here are some recommended tools to utilize during the development process:
- Mindmeister – Great mapping tool to lay out a site’s navigation and develop a flow of content.
- Basecamp – Wonderful project management tool that helps keep web projects organized through to-do lists, discussions, calendaring, and more.
- DoneDone – This issue tracker is perfect to use during website testing.
3. Don’t Skimp on Making Content SEO-Friendly
What would be the point of spending all this time planning and creating a site if it didn’t show up in searches? There wouldn’t be! Writing with keywords in mind, including SEO plugins, and setting up a Google Analytics account are just a few things one can do to make a website SEO-friendly. This also may be a task to outsource to an SEO company whose primary job is to stay on top of ever-changing SEO trends.
See also: Accounting for SEO
No process is perfect and let’s be honest, no project will be a cake walk, but there are several things that can be implemented and fixed at the process level to make the development a little less 90s gif-like.