If you’re in the market for a new or upgraded website, you may be in the discovery phase of comparing options and learning about the web development process. If you haven’t been through it before, it can be hard to know who to partner with for your project. And what to look for when working with an individual or web design agency.
So, what is website development process? To start you off, here are the reasons why you need one.
Why Website Development Process Works
At The MMC Agency, we’ve learned that following a proven process makes all the difference. Below are just a few reasons you want an expert that has a clear website development process in place:
It Saves Time
If you’re looking for a professional website designer, it’s likely that you don’t want to waste a lot of time that you could be spending running your business. You need a trusted provider that knows what works and how to get your project done in a way that’s efficient and proven. Finding someone that is trustworthy, responsive, and knows what they’re doing is your best bet. You also want someone that can create – and stick to – a website development timeline.
It’s Keeps Everyone on Track
At The MMC Agency, you work with a designated project manager throughout your website build. We do that because we want our clients to know they have someone they can go to with any questions, at any time. No one likes when they have a great experience with a sales manager, only to be bumped to a team of account executives after the contract is signed. It can result in having to relay all of your goals and business needs at best – and a subpar, frustrating experience at worst.
Beyond a project manager, we have various people that are working on a project at any given time. From website designers to copywriters to our SEO team, we all need a way to complete our tasks on schedule. By having a proven website development process, we know who’s doing what when and we can keep our clients up to speed throughout the project. It also helps us ensure that our client – and our team – provides timely feedback to each other so we can move forward as partners throughout the process.
It Ensures Success
A proven plan means that it works. It’s been tried, tested, refined, and it is the most efficient way to achieve a goal. That goal in this case is developing a website that looks great, works great, and converts for our clients.
We’ve worked with many clients that have a website that a “friend”, “cousin,” or “intern” created. Even if it looks great, they often come to The MMC Agency because they have discovered that it simply doesn’t work. Whether it’s because of broken links, outdated design styles, lack of mobile functionality and SEO, or just simply that the site has no direction for visitors, the truth is it was a waste of money if it didn’t work.
When it comes to investing in a professional website that is going to represent your business, you have to be sure that the team – or individual – has a plan and knows how to reach your goals!
So, now that we’ve covered why a plan is important, let’s jump into what website development looks like!
What are the 4 stages of web design?
In general, most designers and agencies can break their process down into four categories:
The first is the onboarding process or project discovery phase. Here, the client and design team often work together to set goals, share content, logos, logins, etc. This is a critical part of the process because it helps get everyone on the same page and set expectations.
At The MMC Agency, a client is officially onboard once they’ve signed their contract and paid a deposit. That’s when the project discovery phase begins. We use a new client questionnaire that helps our clients relay information using simply questions – and helps our team understand what’s important and how to better unpack things. like what our clients have tried, what has worked, what hasn’t and what would make this project a success.
We also create a folder system so our clients can easily share logos, files, marketing materials, photography and more. Most of our clients have been in business for a year or more, so we don’t want to waste their time asking for things that have already been created.
The folder system is also a great way for us to share post-project assets like logo files, copy files, stock photography we’ve used and more.
The second stage of web design is when the discovery and sharing of content and goals begin to come to life in the design. In this phase, we complete a website strategy, complete with an initial site map. Before we move into design, we want to look at the project comprehensively and make sure that what we build will be successful for our client.
Once we have completed and have approval on the website strategy and site map, we start bringing the website to life! Our clients get a first look at their homepage, followed by additional changes once we’ve collaborated on any changes.
As the design comes together, most often the designer and technical team will begin to refine and optimize each page. This typically includes tasks like adding SEO metadata, optimizing the site for mobile, site speed, etc.
This is also the last chance to make last-minute changes and complete testing before the site goes live!
Launch and Client Offboarding
In this final stage, the site is live and it’s time to wrap up the project. Testing may continue throughout this phase. And at The MMC Agency, this is when we take time to walk clients through any features of their new site and make training videos for their team so they can keep their site up to date.
If the client is continuing with us for ongoing SEO optimization, website management, content, etc., we’ll begin the kick-off for that project following the successful site launch.
Now that we’ve looked at the web development process from a high level, let’s dive a bit deeper and talk about the specific web design process we follow at The MMC Agency. We’ll cover each step our project management and development team take to go from project ideation to a successful launch!
Step One – Let’s Get to Know One Another
Our projects typically begin with a client call. Whether a client was referred to us or found us on Google, we suggest booking a call with our team to discuss goals, frustrations with a current site, timeline, budget, and more.
We want to make sure that our web design process and web design team are a good fit before taking the next step. We welcome a great conversation where questions can be answered and goals outlined before becoming an official web design client of The MMC Agency.
Step Two – Let’s Make it Official
Once our client is ready to move forward, we enter the data into our content management system so that we can deliver our contract and deposit request. Everything we do is electronic because we want our user interface to be easy for clients to get started. It also allows for more secure document and payment options, which is important.
Step Three – Welcome to Onboarding
After our clients sign the contract and pay the deposit, we’re ready to roll. Our team creates a dedicated folder for each client where they can share logo and brand files if they have them, and give us access to logins we’ll need to create their new website. This is also the place for any marketing materials or files that our clients want to share, as we described above.
We also use a new brand questionnaire that helps our team of web designers and their dedicated project manager learn more about them. We ask questions like what does success like, what do you like or dislike about your existing brand and website, etc. It not only helps us learn more about also acts as prompts for our clients to know exactly what they want!
These two items – a dedicated project folder and the brand questionnaire – are sent out in our welcome email so clients can get started right away.
Step Four – The Kick-Off Meeting
The kick-off is a great part of our development process because we get to officially connect our new client with their project manager. Depending on our client, this may be by phone, email, video or in-person. Regardless of how we get connected, this step is the beginning of the planning stage where we get to learn about each other, get excited about the new project, and cover some of the basics from our website development checklist.
During the kick-off, our clients have the opportunity to expound on their answers to the questionnaire, ask questions from our team members and discuss expectations. It’s an exciting time for everyone on the project and development team when a new client comes on board with our agency.
Step Five – Logo & Branding
This stage is an optional part of our web development process and not every client elects to use it. Some don’t need it, as they already have established branding and logos they’re happy with. And others may choose to leave this part out of their project for another reason.
If our client has elected to include logo and branding services into the website development life cycle, it happens at the beginning. Our first step is to create a brand strategy document. In this document, we’ll begin to define the brand’s ultimate goal and target audience. We want to know more about the target audience so we know who we’re talking to and what works well for them.
In the brand strategy, we also begin to explore a mood board and sometimes at this stage, color options for the brand. Once we have feedback from this part of the design phase, we move into creating logo options, and further development of the brand colors, fonts, patterns, and more.
As with any part of website creation, working collaboratively with our clients is magic. We have a proven process that helps streamline the project steps but we also allow for regular input and feedback that helps our team create something that hits the nail on the head and ensures project success!
Step Six – Copywriting
Like logo and branding, not all of our clients need copywriting services. For those that do, we have various options. The first option is to create all of the copy from scratch. Much like the logo and branding, we have opportunities for input and feedback so we can quickly get to the right brand tone and style for our clients.
In some cases, clients have an existing site with copy they like or they have a team member that wants to take on the role of copywriter. In those cases, clients frequently choose our second option, the copy audit. For the copy audit, we start with the existing copy but go through it looking for opportunities to edit, expand and update it to be the best possible content for search engines and web design.
Step Seven – The Sitemap Creation
The site map is our version of a layout or wireframe and it’s a critical part of our web development process. We use the sitemap to put the web design menu, pages, and sections on paper before moving into the next phase. We look at the layout and functionality from an end-user perspective so that visitors have a clear pathway to getting what they need quickly. And we look at the site comprehensively to ensure we have included everything possible to build a website that displays our client’s digital presence in the best possible way.
Step Eight – The Homepage Preview
The homepage preview is an exciting part of the website development process and the starting point for bringing the design stage to life. Our skilled designers take all of the information we’ve gathered and created to begin putting the pieces together on the homepage. This is different from any landing pages or coming soon pages we may have put up temporarily and is a full preview of the final homepage product.
Step Nine – Site Development
Once we’ve nailed the homepage, it’s time to move through the design process and begin putting the rest of the website together. This may also be the time we begin to integrate a web application or other integration our business owner has requested to streamline their site, automate tasks, etc.
One of the factors to success here is communication. In some cases, sites are straightforward and in other cases, web applications and complicated needs make the project more involved for web designers and backend developers. No matter what technology stack the website uses, as a client, you should get regular communication from your web designer through the entire process of development.
Step Ten – Refinement
Before your final product is ready to go, there will likely be some steps to refine your website. At The MMC Agency, we’ve learned that sometimes what client’s think they want may change, and we’re flexible to make adjustments to design and development within the original project definition. We know that a website’s ultimate goal is to work for our client and we want to be the partner to get that done.
Step Eleven – Optimization
What does optimization look like around The MMC Agency? Our checklist includes going through the entire site to test pages, links, etc. before launch. We also create websites that include foundational search engine optimization – such as proper meta data, tags, and more.
Another step we do during our custom website design process is make sure our website design is mobile optimized. More than half of website users are looking at your web address on a mobile device, so any website design today must include mobile optimization. Once we’re done with optimization in the website design process, we’re ready to schedule a date to go live for our client.
Step Twelve – Let’s Launch
The entire project is a lot of fun – from development phase onward – but a great day for any web project is launch day! That’s the end of the web development life cycle for all intents and purposes because it’s the day that your website can officially be seen by users – and your target audience.
What should you expect on launch day? At The MMC Agency, most launch days are simple for our clients. We let them know what day we’ll be taking the website live and send an email when it starts showing up on the web. In some cases, it may take a few hours to begin showing up after we redirect the domain name, but that’s rare.
Our team also usually creates launch announcements for our clients so they can share their new website on social media and promote it to their audience!
Step Thirteen – Testing & Training
Once the site is officially live, we begin another phase of testing. We know the site was developed to be user friendly but we want to test moving through the live site, submitting forms and more on more than one search engine (like Google Chrome and Internet Explorer) and devices.
At this stage, we also ask our client what areas of the site might be important for them to update going forward and create training videos. We don’t just create a library of how-tos, we film our training videos in our client’s dashboard so they know exactly what they will see and what steps to follow to make changes.
Step Fourteen – The Offboarding Process
The offboarding process is where we make sure our clients have everything they need to move forward with their site successfully. From access to logins, logo files and design elements to training and ongoing support options. It’s also during this part of the web design process that we typically like to surprise our clients with a little thank you gift!
Step Fifteen – We Hate to Say Goodbye
At the end of the website development process, our client’s site is live and the web developer (and rest of the team) is done. But that doesn’t mean we have to say goodbye!
Many of our clients choose to work with us beyond the web development process. Below are just the top reasons why:
- Ongoing website maintenance. The same reason our client’s hired us for to create a website is the same reason they may choose to keep us on for maintenance – they either don’t have the time, expertise or interest in managing a site going forward. Fortunately, our project management team does! Our ongoing project management options for website maintenance usually include five to ten hours a month to help manage site plugins, upload web content and more.
- Content creation. Another reason client’s continue working with The MMC Agency is our content creation packages. From creating a weekly blog post to writing press releases, white papers, articles, designing mailers, brochures and more – we do it all so our clients don’t have to. Plus, because we were involved in the website development project, we can easily upload the content to our client’s site with all of the necessary steps and data that search engines love.
- Social media content. Just like the process to create a website, there are key factors that we include when creating social media content for our clients. We start by going back to the foundational elements of our client’s brand and creating a strategy for what type of content will be relevant to the audience. From there, we can build a rotation of posts that represent the brand and help build market awareness, trust and ultimately, more conversations and sales. We also help create branded content alongside our client’s photography and stock resources to pull together a complete posting plan!
And there you have it – the answer to “what is website development process.” From the development cycle to website hierarchy, our web development team has developed a process that helps our client go from step one to a successful web development project!
If you’re interested in learning more about our process or working with an expert team, we’d love to chat. We offer a free, no obligation consultation to discuss what you have, what you need and how we can make it happen.