How Are Websites Built?

Posted by on Feb 8, 2013 in Building a Website | Comments Off on How Are Websites Built?

Construction Work

I have to admit, I’ve been struggling with this post, and I’m not sure why…well, I am, it’s a big topic. A first version started with a listing of documents and deliverables based on roles. Another draft contained a discussion of waterfall verus agile methodologies. A third contained a Frankenstein of the two. It was a monster…

Basically, websites are built by a team of talented people, including the client, who work together to plan, negotiate, brainstorm, design, revise, execute, and iterate at each step of the process. These steps (at a very high level) are:

  • Strategy — an assessment of client business needs and goals
  • Information Architecture — a translation of strategic objctives into a site map and wireframes
  • Content Creation — creating the words on your site
  • Design — creating the way the site looks
  • Development — creating the code that allows the site to do what it does, and be usable on the web
  • QA — checking everything over on a variety of platforms and devices to make sure it works

At the center of each of these steps though, is conversation, a back and forth between agency and client, and team member to team member. A site will not exist in a vacuum, and can not be built in a vacuum. Part of the benefit of bringing in outside people is to get an outside perspective on your business and your goals. A major byproduct of the web design process is to gain insights into your business that can be translated into meaningful messages to the world outside of your company. At the center of the best site projects comes a willingness on the part of all participants to challenge one another, to ask “what if?” or “why not?” or “how about?” As a client, you should challenge your agency, and as a client you should expect your agency to challenge you.

Site builds are not easy. They can be emotional endeavors. Site build projects force introspection and do require courage — when you create a site you are taking a stand, driving a metaphorical stake in the ground and saying “this is who we are.” Be bold, be ready to talk and engage, be ready to challenge and be challenged. Any team can guide you through the process of building a site. Process does not build a site. It is just a framework. The conversations, exchanges and communication amongst team members, and the client contribute to great work and build the site.