Successful design of a website may generate thousands of customers worldwide which may take the business to a new high. However, designing and developing a successful website is a time consuming process. The designer needs to understand the purpose of the website, identify the target audience and their expectations, create templates, check compatibility of the templates in various search engines, check indexing of the pages in search engines etc. Keeping these activities in mind, following few stages are strongly recommended for designing a highly performing website.
1. Gathering Information- The basic purpose behind creating a web site is to attract a target audience, provide them with detailed information on products or services and accomplish goals of making money or sharing information by the owner. Therefore, the very first job a designer needs to do is to discuss with their clients and identify their purpose, goals, target audience and content.
2. Planning- As the website designer is ready with the necessary details collected from step 1, he needs to prepare a plan by listing the details on a paper as these are the guiding points for his design. He may develop a sitemap based on this list. A sitemap is nothing but a visual chart explaining the structure or overall organization of the website. It includes all important topic areas, along with the sub-topics, if possible. It helps the designer to create a coherent navigation path for the users. It also lists out the number of navigational items required, names for these items, number of pages required within the main page, names for these pages etc.
3. Design- At this stage, the designer has to configure the look, appearance and appeal or feel of the site. Appearance or look of a web page is the first impression about the company and its services or products. The designer develops a rough sketch of the layout of the home page. He may use the company logo and suggest its location, develop a login box and select different color combinations for different target audience. Prototype designs for the web site are created at this stage by the designer but, functionality are not included. These prototype designs are then sent to the clients for their approval.
4. Development- Once the designs are accepted by both the parties, the designer starts developing or creating the actual web site. The static design concepts are then divided into components for coding purposes. Using XHTML and CSS, the code is written for proper presentation of the webpage through the browsers. A home page is created which contains the templates or shells for the interior pages. The contents for all the pages are distributed accordingly throughout the site. The interactive contact forms, flash animations or ecommerce carts are also configured at this stage. Clients may interact at this stage too and suggest up-gradation or changes. Another important consideration at this stage is to write proper and valid XHTML/CSS code to comply with current web standards.