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Starting before design, before coding anything. What steps need to be taken to fully implement a working website?

EDIT

I mean both from a technical and a non-technical perspective.

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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted
  1. Set Goals - What is the purpose of the website? What will it try to accomplish? How will it contribute to your cause, bottom line, ego?

  2. Site Outline - What content will go on your site? How will it be organized? What will it do? Determine the major sections of the website and break your content down by which section it will be placed in.

  3. Wireframe/Mockups - Create a basic framework for the visual display of the site. Determine approximate placement for content, calls to action, interactive elements, video, etc. This can be done on paper of using a mockup tool such as Mockingbird.

  4. Design - Using the wireframe/mockup as a guide, create the actual design of the website. This would be the actual graphic elements that make up the look and feel of the site.

  5. Integration/Coding - Using the designed graphic elements and other content that has been developed, code out the individual pages in HTML/CSS and other presentation technology (such as Flash) as needed.

  6. Test and Revise - Once all of the pieces are brought together, test the website to ensure it works properly in modern web browsers, passes any technical tests required (such as HTML/CSS validation if required). Revise as needed.

  7. Launch! - Once the site is ready, select a hosting provider and put the site online. If you will be using your own domain name, I recommend selecting a variety of possible domain names and registering the ones you may want to use. At launch use the one you like the best and redirect the others to the main site (assuming you purchased more than one).

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Balsamiq is another sweet mockups tool: balsamiq.com/products/mockups –  JasonBirch Jul 19 '10 at 6:18
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The Pragmatic Press publishes a good book called "Web Design for Developers" which covers this topic. As a developer, I really enjoyed it. I think most people looking to build a web presence would find it useful.

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Some of it depends on the purpose of the site. If you're building a personal site for your own interests then @JustinScott above covers about everything really well. I would probably look for an ISP and get the domain name concurrent with the other steps though...

If it's a commercial site, you'll want to meet with a client to gather their goals and needs for the various sections, then put together a "requirements" doc to state exactly what will be delivered for each part. This way you have a blueprint to work off of that they've agreed to (signed) so you can later say "that's out of scope" when they want something else added or changed. Out of scope things can be added, but there should be a cost in either time, money or both.

The other steps fall are about the same for commercial or more formal projects, with a section for Q&A/Testing/Fixing Issues after the development and before the release.

Finally... there's the never ending "maintenance" phase of projects where you dread having ever started working on it in the first place :-)

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