The Nitty-Gritty Process of Building a Website
November 14, 2017
In this post I’ll be sharing some insight into some of the processes we use at Listo to develop new websites.
Preparation is vital for successful website development
As soon as the website designs have been signed off and the client is happy with the proposed layouts the build stage begins. The development team spend time understanding the projects scope, what clients require and what’s been agreed to be completed.
Next developers and project managers discuss the highest priority features, listing all of the tasks that need to be completed. They create a plan which breaks the entire project into manageable chunks of work known as sprints. Sprints usually last a week and end with a finished functioning section of code. Sprints are a great way of ensuring the project is still on track. We log the contents of this meeting on Jira, a project management tool developed by Atlassian. Jira allows our whole team to easily plan and track the progress of projects we’re working on.
We often plan from front to back, meaning we will initially focus on planning the visual parts of the website users interact with in their browsers for example the images, navigation and layouts. Following this we move onto back-end planning, which is the portion of the website not visible to users but vital for gathering the correct information to be displayed and ensuring elements such a contact forms and purchases work correctly. Whilst planning our developers will make a note of any areas that can be coded and subsequently reused elsewhere on the site, ensuring a consistent design throughout and streamlining development.
The Development Phase
Unless a client has specifically requested otherwise we usually start by creating the homepage. This is normally the first page visitors will come across when visiting a site, it’s therefore often the most important page of a website as it’s extremely important to make sure first impressions have a lasting impact. The homepage will usually also lead to other pages on the site, a poorly created homepage will significantly reduce the likelihood of uses staying on your site to explore additional content.
With all of our builds we use Git version control software, enabling us to easily keep track of any changes anyone makes to the code during a project. Our preferred tool is Bitbucket, which seamlessly integrates with Jira allowing issues to be easily flagged up and tracked. Throughout the build our team regularly store all of the code they produce in a Bitbucket repository, a central storage hub where anyone in the team can easily view the latest changes to the code and see what everyone else is working on. This system allows multiple developers to easily simultaneously work on different functions for the same project, consequently saving a lot of time whilst working on large projects. This method of version control also easily allows us to revert the code back to an earlier version if something in a new release doesn’t seem to be working as expected.
“Quality is not an act, it is a habit.”— Aristotle
Throughout the build web developers must continually test their code to check its working as planned. It’s much better to identify any bugs (errors with code not performing as expected, not the insect bugs) as early as possible whilst the project is progressing instead of being overwhelmed at the very end and having to rewrite massive chunks of bug filled code. At the end of each sprint a member of the quality assurance team is allocated to thoroughly test that section of the project is working as the client intended on all major browsers and devices. This process is facilitated with the use of our office Device Lab which contains a number of devices sites can be quickly viewed on.
Once all features and functionality have been built we test the living day light out of the project, going through a checklist of things, such as ensuring the site appears visually correct, checking data entry and payment systems function correctly and overall ensuring the site is not vulnerable to any security flaws. Every aspect of the site needs to be 100% functioning and looking amazing before launch as any unidentified bugs are likely to cause a nuisance to the target audience and potentially put them off the brand.
Once we’re completely happy with the final product and the client has signed off the work, the website is sent live. The work doesn’t stop here though, now it’s time to monitor user behavior and feedback, finding any common dead ends in the site and things that do not work as well as they should. This feedback can be used to further improve the site, continuing to increase exposure and boost the site up the search engine rankings. I’ll be writing more about this and Search Engine Optimisation in my next article.
I hope this article has given you a slightly deeper understanding of what it takes to build a site and begins to demonstrate that web development is a truly complex skill, often taken for granted, that not everyone is cut out for. If you feel out of your depth developing your own site maybe it’s best to leave it to the professionals and get in touch with Listo Brands. Give us a call on 01304 899 411 or send us a message via our Contact form.
Author: Jessica Lishman
Resident SEO specialist