A Functional Website Can Make or Break Your Business

Your website is your business. This statement might strike you as an exaggeration and, of course, you would be right. But in many ways, this perception is true for the vast majority of would-be customers.



Your website is your digital presence, and the first impression of your business. How well it interacts with visitors can make all the difference. Developing one that performs well in that regard and can scale to match changing business needs requires planning, foresight and technical skills.

These are the stages of development for websites:

  1. Business and Functional Requirements
  2. Choosing a CMS
  3. Planning and Creation of Information Architecture (IA)
  4. Back-end/front-end development
  5. Content population, editing, and launch
  6. Ongoing support, maintenance and optimization

1. BUSINESS AND FUNCTIONAL REQUIREMENTS

Before any form of development even starts, you should get smaller technical and legal details out of the way. First step? Making sure your desired domain is available.

This simple step can be taken care of through a third-party provider which will  streamline the process and make it less expensive, or through self-hosting, which increases costs and takes longer, but grants absolute control over all the information.

Regardless of which option your business chooses, you will need to register the domain name.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a nonprofit organization that oversees the supervision of domain names, extensions, and ensure that the exponential increase of websites worldwide proceeds smoothly and without issues that can arise from over-saturation. They are the entity responsible for registering your domain name.

Eventually, after the entire development process is done and your domain goes live, users from across the globe will have direct access to your website through an established IP address.

ICANN
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

2. CHOOSING CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

A content management system (CMS) is at the heart of nearly every modern website. It lets the business stakeholders focus on the content that goes on pages and articles, while providing control over the way pages look and render across a variety of devices and browsers. It automates most of the back-end work and streamlines the process of updating the site and adding new pages, articles, posts and media without much or even any reliance on developers.

Medium to large companies tend to favor open source on-site systems because of the level of control they provide and the large community backing them up, which makes them the logical choice for any serious company looking to take full advantage of their digital presence.

The two main on-site, open source CMS are:

Choosing right CMS

 

WordPress:

This is the most popular choice by far, powering over 30% of all websites worldwide. This open-source CMS is widely considered the most intuitive, efficient, and easier to install alternative, with a large community of supporters constantly creating third-party integrations that increase the number of features.

 

Drupal:

This is considered the best choice for highly advanced and secure websites. This CMS can easily tag, organize and categorize content, but it requires a greater degree of expertise to properly operate and take full of advantage of its ability to create rich and complex pages.

3. PLANNING AND CREATION OF INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE

At this early stage before development starts, the business needs to be clear on the type of website it wants.

Developers conceptualize the overall layout and navigation scheme for the website, the themes it will use, all the features that will be included in the interface, and its type of content. This pre-visualization will be very useful once the actual process of putting things together begins.

The pre-planning process culminates with the creation of a sitemap, which is a list of all the pages that will be included in the website, organized by categories, and diagrammed in terms of how they will be interconnected. This practice helps arrange all the components, prevents the creation of duplicate content, and will illustrate the flowchart blueprint that will be used in the coding and assembly stages.

4. BACK-END/FRONT-END DEVELOPMENT

This is the actual development stage, with developers laying down the coding foundation that will structure the entire experience. This is the area of work that will handle all the security and performance for the website.

Work starts at the back-end level, where all the components that make up the server-side are assembled and programmed. This area is composed of two main parts:

Server:

This is the computer (hardware or software) that essentially hosts the entire website and houses the database. It powers the entire information processing, how the data is received and sent, and all the encryption measures that shield the website from security issues.

The choice for hosting plays a crucial role in the amount of control users have over the website. Hosting with local hardware is more expensive, but grants absolute government, while cloud-based or third-party hosting is cheaper but limits control over certain aspects, most likely security and maintenance.

Back-end development
At the back-end level is where all the hard coding happens, so being familiar with the programming language better suited for your CMS of choice is vital in taking full advantage of all its features
Front-end dev
At the front-end level, it's all about navigation, layout and aesthetics. It's what the users experience when they visit the website.

Applications:

These are the components that link the back-end with the front-end and regulate how the two sides interact.

Overall, the back-end level is responsible for the way data is managed, the security measures for the website, and the level of performance support.

At the front-end level is where website users operate. This is where all the interaction between visitors and the website happens visibly. Front-end developers, often called web designers, are responsible for the way the website looks, its layout, the way the information is positions and readily accessible, the type of content and how it is presented, compliance issues and essentially the whole microcosm of the user of experience.

[The way your website looks to visitors is as important as the way it operated behind the scenes. Check out our Basics of Web Design for some guidance.]

5. CONTENT POPULATION, EDITING, AND SITE LAUNCH

Once the website is structured, it’s time to actually nurture it with the content visitors will consume.

Needless to say, the content on your website needs to be clear, concise, interesting and useful. Otherwise traffic will be low and lack any real quality in terms of converting to actual leads.

Applying basic web design concepts so the pages are easy to navigate and appealing is a great first step, but you need to have a strategy in place to ensure everything is optimized for best results.

[You need a Digital Marketing Strategy to make sure all your efforts are focused and successful. Want to learn more about what needs to go in that plan? Check out our overview!]

Now that the website is populated with content, all properly edited and optimized, you are ready to launch.

6. 24/7 SUPPORT

O8 Web Support
24/7 support will ensure prompt attention to any issues

Once the website is live, issues are still likely to come up, whether from an unexpected volume of traffic, denial of service attacks, or updated trends that will impact how visitors interact with your website.

Web development does not end when the website is operational. Each web page requires supervision and an experienced eye to maintain and support all the technical aspects, ensuring that what began as a smooth process remains so permanently.

Website and server maintenance can happen in-house or through third-party agencies which can and will provide 24 hours of support, seven days a week.

WHO WE ARE

"O8"

We are O8.

We are seasoned web developers, designers, and digital marketers who understand that websites need to be put together so that they can be functional and efficient, with powerful performance.

We will work tirelessly to help you:

  • Build a professional, powerful and efficient website
  • Audit, identify and fix any issues that may be affecting performance
  • Become your trusted allies in the implementation of any systems that play a role in the overall experience, such as content management or customer relationship management
  • Be there for your, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Get in touch for more information or browse through our services to find out how we can help you: