When you’re done reading the list below, you’ll know about 18 Actionable Tips ready to apply in your Website Design And Development Process enhancing your:
- business results,
- and your budget.
Thus those tips don’t include everything you could and should know, it can save you a lot of time and money during and after the website design and development process. I hope you’ll find it useful and valuable.
This post will be the most helpful for people who are going to build a new website sooner or later because most of the points are project management related and need to be included in an agreement with your contractor.
If you’re reading this post, you’re probably going to build a website, app or whatever web-based product. I bet that you’re one of these people, too:
- a client who need to build a website, app or whatever web-based and is going to do it with an agency or a freelancer,
- a project manager / product manager who wants to improve website design and development process,
- a marketing specialist who need to enhance knowledge about web development process flow.
No matter which one of them you are, you’ll find here a useful list of web development process improvements recommendations from me – ASPER’s CEO Mike Jackowski (Hey, let’s connect on Linkedin! :)).
Ready to take your website design and development process to the next level?
General Website Design and Development Process
I just need to describe website development methodologies. I’ll try to keep it short. There are lots of Web Development methodologies and each of them has lots of similarities and differences. Some people still work in the waterfall model, some use Scrum – an Agile way, whereas some mix it up and build own methodology. In this entry, I don’t want to focus on a specific methodology.
My goal is to give you actionable tips no matter what role you play in the website design and development process – as well client, as the contractor working in any methodology.
In the waterfall methodology, it’s done step by step. In Scrum, every stage depends on and synchronizes with each other constantly. Although website development process differs in execution methods, the stages are still pretty the same. And here they are:
- Information gathering – it’s the first step of the website design and development process determining business and development steps. It should provide a better understanding of your business goals. Future agency or freelancer will take a huge advantage of it. You should provide essential business matters here, like:
- the purpose of your website,
- its goals,
- your target audience.
- Planning – in this stage, your input should be the information gathered in the previous step. This step’s goal is to design the sitemap and / or an architecture of your app. Furthermore, your output should precise the software roadmap and / or which technologies are you going to use for the development.
- Costs estimations – due to the gathering of all of the information from the two previous stages, after completion of this step you should know:
- how much is your website worth,
- how much time is needed for the website design and development process
- and how much are you going to pay for it.
- Design – time for work – here, your designer prepares wireframes, designs all of the screens and applies the general feeling and experience.
- Development – it’s a key stage of your website design and development process. Here, your tech staff code the designs to make your website “clickable” in browsers. Afterward, all of the features are being developed. At the same time, they are integrated into your Content Management System.
- Testing and delivery – during this stage, your website development team should click through every nook and cranny of your website. It’s checked across different browsers and website’s specific features are tested for proper working. Then they apply few changes and send it to you for your final test. If everything is fine, your website is deployed from the test environment to the production one and goes live!
- Maintenance – an individual range of activities are taken here. Your developers should bring your Content Management System up to date, verify all kinds of faults and repair them. Maintenance includes also developing or configuring features needed from the marketing point of view.
Okay, I’m done with my chatter. Below is your amazing, random list of specific methods that applied to your next projects will absolutely improve your websites design and development process.
I am showing you right now Insiders Tips & Tricks and how to tweak them into each of these general stages of the web development process flow. Feel free to use them to enhance your process!
List of 18 Tips improving your Website Design and Development Process
#1 – If you’re not an expert, DON’T build detailed documentation.
I mean really, LEAVE IT. Instead of it, pick your potential contractors at this very first stage. Get in touch with them for a quick introductory call and choose the one, two or three of them who’s earned your trust.
Then ask what do they need from you?
That way you save time because experts are going to guide you through the process the right way. They will ask you for things they actually need from you, piece by piece. You won’t waste pointless time in front of your document editor. Too long documentations are a killer of your time, contactor’s time, project’s quality and later – of results.
Pro-tip: before your introductory call with a contractor, be prepared to tell him or show him just an outline of your site’s goal, simple structure and key features.
#2 – If you want to build documentation anyway, do it visually.
Remember: visual examples accompanied by simple comments will be the best documentation for your web development team.
Perhaps you might even use professional software for it. Give a shot to https://www.reqview.com or similar.
Well, you do agree that it’s much more understandable than the plain 5 pages document, don’t you? 🙂 Sure, a short sitemap structure doesn’t explain exact features. But they are more likely to understand with this visual, rather than with at least 5 long paragraphs of “blabla – bla” needed to explain above picture.
Pro-tip: during structuring try to utilize this great tool: https://slickplan.com/sitemap or use one of these apps: http://getfoundonline.in/visual-site-map-generators.
#3 – Make basic assumptions considering your Search Engine Optimization strategy before the website design and development process kicks off.
Pick your SEO keywords now and send them to your contractor. It will help to optimize your website correctly from the very beginning.
While planning your key features and content keep in mind the SEO issues too. It’d be great if your contractor could assign SEO Specialist to your team who’d take care of the best recommendations on a daily basis. We do so at ASPER and I see a huge improvement in our clients SEO metrics after we’ve decided to include the SEO expert into our website design and development process.
#4 – In a fixed price model contract, ask your contractor to add an additional list of website’s adjustments to a cost estimation in advance.
Save it and use it after the first month, when your project is up and running. Test your website LIVE.
Get some traffic, gather:
- Google Analytics data,
- Google Search Console data,
- Google Pagespeed Insights,
- Yandex Metrica
- and other analytics tools.
Then, dig deep into these data, think what could work better, what could perform & convert better and prepare a list of changes.Those applied should run in an A/B test. Check it out later and find out if you were right!
Those applied should run in an A/B test. Check it out later and find out if you were right!
#5 – Spend at least one hour on researching your design inspirations before website design and development process kicks off.
Design matters and has a huge impact on conversions. You and your customers must feel it’s visually appealing too. Go to:
And look for designs that match your style.
This increases the likeliness your contractor will design something you want and need!
#6 – You MUST include the consideration of the possible further developments at the very beginning of your Website Design and Development Process.
The contractor will re-think the technologies, structure of the website and databases regarding them. Not always, but in most cases, it can help you avoid additional costs in the future.
Or even save you from re-writing the website in other technologies in case the used ones cannot handle your needs.
#7 – Ask your contractor to break the tasks needed to achieve each milestone into small tasks
Then prioritize them regarding your needs together. He should work with a specific order. This way, you will have your website working much faster.
Additionally, your contractor should choose the elements which are a definite MUST from the logical point of view. Whereas you MUST choose the features you actually need from the very beginning. When you achieve everything needed to start – begin with the website implementation process, work your business, validate assumptions and let the contractor to the rest and deploy in time.
#8 – Ask your contractor about his website design and development process.
Do you know what is shocking me the most in our New Business Development processes? The fact that only a few customers ask about our Website Design and Development Process. Really. Sure, they evaluate the topic but only if we start to talk about it. So… it’s great that you want to get into this topic! 🙂
Ask your contractor about his website design and development process basics.
- What is his methodology? Scrum, Waterfall or the mixed one?
- How does he analyze your brief?
- How does he prepare costs estimations?
- How does he prepare the designs?
- How does he code the designs and develop them?
- Is he applying code-review and versioning?
- How does the deployment process look like?
- Is he working in the test environment as well as the production environment?
- How is he communicating with his clients – via Skype, e-mail, perhaps even Trello board or support you with the JIRA account?
- How does he prepare the testing stage for you and what tools will you receive from him?
#9 – Get on with a contractor who will invite you to the project board in his collaboration tool.
Here at ASPER we include the clients / product owners into the whole website design and development process. They should know what’s going on, verify our work constantly and that ensures the project’s quality and cuts our time-loss by 90%. Because most of the lost time in the websites design and development process are small misunderstandings which are easy to verify on a daily basis.
If a contractor doesn’t want to let you in, he’s probably worried about you seeing “something”. Then you should worry about that “something”, cause he’s definitely not transparent with you.
#10 – Ask your contractor to prepare in-depth, detailed costs estimation.
He should break each and all of the steps into small pieces and assume time needed for it. It’s not because you need to control if he’s not fooling you and the final price.
It’s because you can see which feature how much cash is burning actually
You can make adjustments to your conception and priorities. Eliminate features that are burning the money while being less important or decide to develop it later. It’s that simple.
It’s a real example of the costs estimation for a custom CRM software made for one of our customers. Do you see how detailed is it? A quick look at it shows how much time is burnt for each stage and feature. You can apply some priorities to your website design and development process.
#11 – Don’t trust contractors who tell you the final price without telling the time consumption of the most important milestones.
It means he’s not experienced, is guessing or is simply fooling with you. Detailed cost estimations are not that hard for companies experienced in the development of the websites, who know the website design and development process well.
What are you risking? There are two scenarios:
- he guessed wrong and will start to work wrong because he’ll start to feel that he’s not paid well,
- and / or he is going to ask you for more money you wasn’t prepared for.
#12 – If you’re working in a fixed price model, restrict a possible amount of adjustments iterations.
Really, no matter if you’re a client or a contractor. It works for both. Been there, done that – trust me. Those iterations should have a compact form.
DON’T flood your contractor with endless emails with just a few changes from time to time.
Stick to the iterations instead. It helps you to focus. It can be organized better, nothing is lost due to the chaos and your testing process is more efficient. Website design and development process enhanced with that tip guarantee the quality.
#13 – Record your Skype calls!
Most of the people discuss project details via Skype. They talk about a lot of topics and issues. Some people make notes, but that doesn’t catch the nuances and details. You can come back to your calls and double check on something.
Just remember to ask people for permission and name the files properly to find the exact ones during your website development process.
#14 – If you’re working in the waterfall methodology, copy the Agile jobs system from Scrum to your project.
Many people love Scrum and use for the website design and development process. However much more still work in the waterfall methodology. If you’re on of them, then you should at least copy the Agile jobs system from Scrum to your project. Add more cascades to your acceptance procedures with dependency and controlling character.
If you contract a website to someone and want to ensure the best website design and development process, then it’s essential.
Example situation: most of the agencies will send you a ready to accept Homepage design. Whereas the better agencies or freelancers will send you the text list with its simple structure and later on they will send you a raw mockup, before even turning on the Photoshop or Sketch. Only then they will work with the design and send you the final homepage design for acceptance.
Just imagine how huge impact it has on your project’s quality.
#15 – Improve the website design and development process and ask your contractor to use tools like invisionapp.com.
It will save you a time-consuming process of writing down the changes, making screenshots and visualizations. Instead of it just tap the point you want to change and tell how. Go to Invision App now!
Source: Invisionapp.com (https://support.invisionapp.com/hc/en-us/article_attachments/204211686/CommentDrawing.gif).
#16 – Check the On-Site Search Engine Optimization issues during the whole website design and development process.
There are only a few businesses which don’t want to rank better. Here at ASPER we take care of the On-Site SEO issues during the whole website design and development process, every project day. We analyze it, look for better solutions and enhance everything we messed up during the development. SEO Specialist is making small tests every day and bigger audits during the milestone’s achievements.
We observe much better metrics in websites done this way.
You should too. If you can’t enhance your SEO related issues on a daily basis, then at least make some SEO audit before the work is done completely.
Pro-tip: if you’re a quite advanced user and it’s too expensive or your web-development team doesn’t offer you the SEO Specialist during the whole website design and development process, you can utilize the Onpage.org tool. It will audit your website and provide you with actionable tips for SEO improvement.
Source: Onpage.org account screenshot.
#17 – Ask your contractor to perform tests before your verification
It’s a common mistake in the website design and development process. Developers are people, too. They make mistakes. Your contractor’s tester or your freelancer should check if everything is fine before sending it to you. Is the feature working fine, does it display well in particular browsers? Does it work well on smaller screens?
These steps are simple for an expert.
And are time-consuming for you as well as for him if it’s left up to you. You will have to write it down, explain the situation in which an error occurs, he will ask for the screenshots…
Sounds like time-loss to me.
We have a tester who is in charge of our projects quality in ASPER, before sending it to the client. We know that it saves our time and our clients time.
#18 – Define possible usage scenarios of your website during the tests.
Run tests like you were put into that scenarios. Remember to test your action points thoroughly.
While running the tests of your website, use tools for it. Time optimization? Why not!
- For cross – browser testing you can use this tool: browsershots.org.
- For your designs responsiveness (RWD) use this great, simple and free tool: mattkersley.com/responsive.
You might also utilize:
- CSSViewer Chrome Widget,
- WhatFont Chrome Widget,
- ColorZilla Chrome Widget,
- Awesome Screenshot Chrome Widget,
- Google’s Tag Assistant https://get.google.com/tagassistant.
- If you’re trying to dig deeper, then you should definitely try out Google Chrome DevTools too: https://developers.google.com/web/tools/chrome-devtools.
Website Design and Development Process isn’t easy. It takes time and needs experience. My goal was to gather here essential, actionable tips to let you enhance your process. However, everyone is learning, we do too. Do you have some advice for us and rest of the readers here? Please, leave it in comments below! We’d appreciate you share your experience!