Overview of the Web Development Process - HTML

The Web development process consists of several broad steps, beginning with planning and ending with execution and maintenance. These include the following:

  1. Defining your goals
  2. Defining your audience
  3. Developing competitive and market analysis
  4. Creating a requirements analysis
  5. Designing your site’s structure
  6. Specifying content
  7. Choosing a design theme
  8. Constructing the site
  9. Testing and evaluating the site
  10. Marketing the site

Defining your goals
The most obvious question to ask when developing a Web site is: What is it for? What are the objectives you want the site to achieve? For example, do you want to use your site to sell products, or to drive the PR process? You may want to disseminate news, or build customer service applications.

Defining your audience
Defining your audience will affect everything from the design of the site (a children’s site may have lots of pastel colors or may even be a bit silly looking, whereas a science-related site will require a different design approach) to content and even navigation questions. A sophisticated audience, for example, may not need as much navigational guidance as a more general audience.

Competitive and market analysis
Discovering what your competition is doing not only helps you enhance your own market position, but can also give you solid ideas on what and what not to do on your own Web site. For example, if your competition’s site consists of difficult-to -read type, you can make sure your site gets high usability ratings by making your site extremely easy to read.

Requirements analysis
Most large sites start off with something called a Project Requirements Document or Functional Requirements Document, which is a comprehensive document written in a word-processing program that contains specifications about how the Web site or a specific feature of a Web site is supposed to behave. These documents usually contain screenshots of mockups created by a team’s graphic designer or graphic design department. Usually, this mockup is created in a graphics program such as Adobe Photoshop or Macromedia Fireworks (although sometimes these are broken out into separate documents called Design Requirement Documents). A requirements document helps everyone on the team understand a Web site’s expected behavior. If a part of the Web site doesn’t behave according to the requirements document during testing, then a bug is filed. The bug remains open until the problem is fixed.

A list of some of the things included in requirements documents follows:

  • Design specifications, including specific font sizes and colors
  • Navigation specifications
  • User experience and interaction scenarios
  • Link behavior
  • Page flow and page flow diagrams
  • Usability guidelines
  • Maintenance requirements
  • Security policies

Often, requirements documents will be followed up by engineering requirements or execution documents that outline strategies on how the requirements will be met from an engineering perspective.

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