In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee published the first “website.” Fast forward to 2019 and there are now over 340 million domains registered online. While that doesn’t mean there are 340 million websites in existence (some have URLs that are registered but not used, some re-directed), navigating websites has become a daily habit in less than 30 years. Just as rapidly, the purpose of a website and the user’s goal has adapted. Unbeknownst to the user, the website development process includes a plethora of moving parts.
The Website Development Process in 4 Phases
Building an effective website that converts requires a replicable process. Yes, there are tools online to quickly develop a website. While those solutions are great for getting started online, the growth of your business will likely reach a point where having a custom online platform is a necessity – not a luxury.
That’s where we step in. At Alter Endeavors, we have 4 distinct phases in our website development process:
- Information Hierarchy/Site Map
- Development/Post Development QA
- Site Launch
There are steps within each phase, but our process all comes back to a question that revolves around one fundamental goal. How can we build a website for our clients that grows their brand and converts users, while fitting seamlessly into their company operations?
In 2019, Alter Endeavors built 10 different websites for 10 different speakers, authors, & thought leaders. Each website had similar overall objectives, however, each website was drastically different. Why? Due to our unique process that includes discovery, strategy, and execution within each of the 4 phases above.
Let’s dive in:
Information Hierarchy/Site Map
The first step in building a website isn’t picking colors or photos. It’s to evaluate the overall objective of the website. The primary objective of a site should always be a conversion of some nature. If I own a moving company, the objective of my site is to book more consultations or quotes.
From there, the structure of the site and the user flow needs to prioritize driving traffic to those conversion points. In our process, we start with establishing the “ideal conversion” on the website and then structure the site so that it takes the customer through an online journey.
Identifying which pages need to be built, the objective of each page, and establishing a flow of how users will find the necessary information on each page shouldn’t be an afterthought. It should guide the entire process.
Once we have established the Information Hierarchy/Site Map, we move into the Design phase. Design is often viewed as the most important part of developing a website because it’s what the end-user consumes. The design of your website insights emotion from the user and their reaction greatly affects your ability to convert online. Our core philosophy here at AE is this…
Good design should encourage engagement and conversions, not act as an inhibitor.
In our process, we start with “Wireframes,” which function as a blueprint. After we establish how the design will supplement conversion goals, we determine the aesthetics. You read that correctly. Color, photos, embellishments, etc. happen after we’ve established how the design will be used to increase engagement and conversions on the site.
The end result is high fidelity mockups that allow the client to visualize the site before we move into development.
Building a website isn’t rocket science, but it does require expertise. Over 3-4 weeks, our team refers to the approved mock-up to build the site on the WordPress platform.
The trick to development is to build a site that makes our client’s life easier. We strive to build a site that integrates with our client’s current operational processes and is easy to update.
There are other steps within the process that happen in the development stage too. An effective website isn’t just an informational brochure. Tracking links, search engine optimization, mobile responsiveness, and other elements also happen during development. Like any project, once the site is “out of development,” our team performs our QA process to ensure the site both looks and functions as it should.
Throughout each phase, we’re building towards the official site launch. It’s the grand finale, the moment the site meets the world, and the most exciting part about developing a website.
The goal of a site launch is to create the perception that “we flip a switch, and the lights turn on.” In reality, there’s more to a launch than that.
The internet is a complicated web, hence the nickname “The Worldwide Web”. It’s essentially like a game of telephone between your domain name server (your URL), your hosting provider (where the site files are located), and the end-user. In the site launch process, we make sure that the site displays properly in each arena. There are several steps within this final phase, each requiring great attention to detail.
The end result of our process is a custom website focused on conversions. With each phase, we follow a process that has proven results. Not just for ourselves, but for our clients. Our process has evolved over the years, as has online behavior. However, as long as the internet is used as a utility, the question will always be: How can we build a website for our clients that grows their brand and converts users, while fitting seamlessly into their company operations?
If you’re ready to address that question for your own website, let’s get started.