A web portal, that caters to the right target audience, and fits in perfectly with your business needs, goals and vision is the first step towards building a successful business. Web development is a complex process that involves various phases from start to finish.
There are 6 phases that turn a website concept into a fully functioning web application. A good understanding and proper documentation of these phases, breakdown of tasks and resources and allotment of roles to various teams, forms the road map for a smooth, optimized and timely completion of any project.
A structured approach to web development process consists of following 6 important phases:
1. Discovery & Planning
This phase is the foundation upon which the entire project is planned and developed. It involves detailed requirement gathering, wherein key pieces of information such as scope, objective, wireframes and functional requirements for the project are discussed and documented. Any unknowns such as third party APIs, web services are scrutinized. This is done in order to further the understanding of these third party systems and to ensure that there are no uncertainties once development starts.
Discovery phase is the most important step in the whole application development process as it gives a clear understanding of the purpose, business goals, and target audience. Based on these inputs, a well thought out action plan comprising task breakdown, resource allocation, project timelines and milestones, is prepared. Towards the end of this phase, since the development team has a holistic perspective of the application, the technology stack to be used for development is also finalized in consultation with client team.
2. Design & UI Coding
Wireframes and guidelines gathered in the previous phase are used by the designer as guidelines to design the website. The look and feel of the website is very important for successful engagement and retention of target audience. Usually, the design team creates more than one prototype of the design, and it is further refined based on inputs from the client.
Aside from other things, an attractive site design is essential to ensure better traffic and conversion rate. After finalizing the design, the front-end coders begin hand coding the User Interface elements for the portal. An exchange of ideas between the designers, coders and clients through this phase ensures that the website precisely matches the needs and aesthetic preferences of the client.
In the development phase, functional elements of the website are built. Experienced programmers build the features/functionalities that were finalized in the discovery phase. This involves coding the business logic, integrating user interface with the backend database, and building custom features that are specific to the given project.
Content management systems, databases, and frameworks are installed, configured and customized in this phase. Integration with third party applications, web services and any other API based systems are also completed during this phase. Steps are taken to ensure that the code complies with current web standards, and is scalable.
4. Quality Control
Before a newly built web application can be reviewed, it is essential to ensure that it has met rigorous quality standards. In this phase, a comprehensive quality assurance of the various developed features is performed. Browser responsive testing, regression testing, functional testing, smoke testing, load testing and performance testing are the main types of quality assurance tests performed here.
This is the phase where the development and testing team work closely together using an iterative process to guarantee that the final end product is smooth and bug free. Successful completion of this phase means that the website is finally ready to be rolled out for client review and feedback.
5. User Acceptance Testing
As the name suggests, this phase involves review of the site by the end user/client. This step provides an opportunity for clients to perform a pilot test on the application with actual users, and get real time feedback, suggestions for improvement thereby reducing or eliminating the opportunity for any major change requests once the application is rolled out to production. Once the website is fully reviewed and approved by client, the application moves to the final phase, namely the launch phase.
This is the final phase at the end of which, application is rolled into production, and made available to the target audience. This is a very important final step, for which a lot of preparation is done, sometimes from the start of the project.
Data migration, server setup and configuration, code merge, domain name redirection, sanity test are some of the key tasks performed in this phase. An experienced team of professionals carries out these tasks with utmost precision by checking everything is set up correctly and leaving no room for assumptions.
Any web application requires ongoing maintenance, support, enhancements and periodic updates.
In conclusion, when it comes to building a robust, scalable and state of the art web application, there really is no alternative to a well structured, proven web development process.