How to ensure success in a web development project? Collaboration!
Web Development isn't complex. Clear goals, skilled developers and clear and consistent collaboration are what drives project success. Collaboration starts with aligning all the stakeholders with the web development process and their responsibilities. This post details out what a typical web development process looks like, and some considerations for project success.
The first call is about getting the big-picture view and setting expectations right. In this phase, the sponsor conveys his or her goals, aspirations, vision, timeline and budget for the site. This is a good time to discuss and clarify the details of the development process. Important things to discuss are the technology stack, design best practices, design and development trends, cost trade-offs, payment and contractual details.
Based on the initial assessment, the developer performs his background research. This involves a set of activities as follows
Researching design trends, technology stack, and competition designs and practices
Auditing and analysing existing site and analytics
Evaluating feasibility of certain features and
Profiling the ideal customer
The developer then puts together a project plan, timeline, cost and a set of artefacts. These artifacts typically include a set of user personas, site outline, features list, user flows, and technology stack.
In this review, the developer presents the outcome of the research to the sponsor and other stakeholders for feedback. The vision communicated in the first call is used as a base for this discussion. The research findings are evaluated to conclude on a view of the site and its features. This is also the time when a larger team of experts and stakeholders can assess the findings and share their feedback.
Outlining and wireframing
Using tools such as Figma, a Wireframe of the site is created. A Wireframe is a skeletal outline of web page or app. Another set of items such as a sitemap, typography, colour palette, animations patterns, etc. is also created in this stage. While creating these artifacts, the brand guidelines, research outcome and feedback are taken into consideration. A content strategy is also created in alignment with the brand story.
Review and revision
The outcome of the previous step is evaluated along with the sponsor to understand any issues early on. This is where the sponsor and other stakeholders get a bare-bones view of the site. Any usability issue found in this stage is corrected and feedback incorporated before moving on.
This is where design, content and images come together to tell a cohesive story, the brand story. In case of an application, this is a view of the application interface. The prototype is the high- definition replica of the site allowing one to test how the site would look and feel after it is complete. The user flows identified in the previous stages can be implemented using basic interactivity with tools such as Figma.
Review and revision
This is when having an ideal customer persona comes in helpful. One can test the flows by acting out the ideal customer's profile. The test involves going through the entire journey of the user from landing on the site to completing the task at hand. This is time when all the stakeholders try to identify problems in the flow. Any usability issue and feedback are documented and the prototype adapted accordingly.
Using the prototype of the previous stage the developer codes the site functionality. The set of features are usually broken down into set of user-stories and prioritized based on importance. The prioritized set of user stories are then implemented in time-boxed phases call sprints. Content is then added to the site. Project management tools such as Jira can provide a task-by-task view of progress of the development.
Validation, testing and optimization
This stage is important for ensuring quality, performance and SEO. Checks performed during this stage as follows:
The site is validated against web standards and best practices checklist
The site is tested across the popular browser such as Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera and Safari.
The site is tested on devices such as desktop, tablets and mobiles
The site is evaluated with performance tools such as Google Lighthouse.
Reviews and revision
Now, everything is complete, all features implemented and the site is available for review at a staging server. This is the time to get the actual users and all stakeholders to use the site and provide feedback. Identified issues are documented and fixed. Feedbacks are incorporated. When all stakeholders are satisfied, the site is accepted and deployed.
Post review and acceptance, the site is deployed to hosting server, and is live. This is when actual users start visiting the site. Also, this is the time one needs to be alert to any issues appearing on the site. Analytics tools such as Google analytics, Microsoft clarity provide valuable insights. Any drop in engagement needs to be analyzed and fixed.
No site is perfect, issues do appear. Issues must be identified and corrected as soon as possible. Analytics tool such as Google analytics, Microsoft clarity also provide valuable inputs on any issues in the user journey and conversions. The original developer is ideal for dealing with support issues, as familiarity with the code improves turnaround time. But good documentation improves support issues with new developers too.
Web development is a collaborative process. The developer, end-user, client and others stakeholder work together to ensure site goals are met. Each stakeholder, whether the sponsor, or the user, needs to provide their inputs and feedback. All these inputs ensure that the site achieves its goals.