If I’m not working on an existing website, I like to think about creating a new one. Based on that, I thought it would be interesting to share my personal steps in creating websites, ranging from the first idea to the boredom of just maintaining the final page.
You can devide the whole process in 6 steps:
- The Idea
- Evaluation and Preparation
- Creation and Testing
- Reviewing and Optimizing
Before you can start your work you need an idea, if possible a good and unique idea.
If you have no idea, think about what would be useful for you and other people. Have look at existing pages and try to figure out what you would do different, or what you would add/remove to increase the user experience.
I don’t want to make you copy an existing page, just try to get an own idea based on an existing website.
Now get the idea on paper and we proceed to step 2:
Evaluation and Preparation
Use paper to arrange your idea. Make notes on what you’ll need when you start working on the new website.
Also, try to come up with a good name and after you got the name have a look for the proper domain. If you have bad luck the domain of your choice is already in use, so make sure you have a few alternatives at the ready.
Then have a look at the exact requirements for your page. Do you need a database? Will it be done using PHP, ASP or any other server side programming language? How much space and traffic will you need? Based on your answers to these questions you may look for a hosting company which offers what you need at a reasonable price (and with a good service).
Maybe you own already a website and intend to use your current web space for the new website. In this case have a look if you need to upgrade to meet the requirements of your new website.
Now get into details of the techniques used. Are there any open source / freeware solutions which can be used and may reduce your own development process?
I prefer writing everything on my own, but I slowly get myself to the point where I say „Why do I have to spent hours to code my feature X while said feature is already available for free?“ Decide on your own if it is better to find an own solution or to use an existing one.
Creation and Testing
After you finished your preparation you are good to start writing the page. Usually it is better to have a design right from the beginning. So if you have already a design in mind, create the design before you start coding the back-end of your website.
If you have no real idea I suggest you create at least a developer design and while you are working on the page you also create the final design.
During your work on the website make sure you test it on a regular base or you may have a harder time finding the bugs in your code. I usually test my code as soon as one essential code block is finished. Depending on my speed I’d say I test it every hour.
Reviewing and Optimizing
Actually this runs hand in hand with the previous step, but I separated it to get a little bit more into detail about the meaning of „reviewing“ and „optimizing“.
It is proved that when you are working on a website you will have additional ideas. Maybe you even decide to drop the one or the other part. That’s where the „reviewing“ occurs:
- You learn that idea X sounded great but is not possible to implement.
- You learn that idea Y could be changed a little bit.
- You have another, additional idea to make your website even better.
While you are working on a site you may also learn new things about the coding language you are using. So it is natural that there are things you can (and shall) change to increase the overall performance of the page.
Last but not least, under optimizing I also understand „SEO“. Yes, it is a good idea to apply your Search Engine Optimization knowledge to the new website. The new site will definitely have a better start once it is released.
Everything is working, there are no bugs left and the design is finished. I guess now it is time to allow the public access the new website.
When I’m releasing a new website, I tell friends about it. I also make posts on forums and if it fits, as comments on blogs. Sometimes I also write an article on my own blog to raise attention.
Additionally I submit the website to all major search engines.
Yes, it is probably the most boring if not annoying part but it still has to be done.
Any website needs small, regular updates as previously unknown bugs are discovered, parts of the website get broken or used techniques can be optimized. So here is a list of possible maintenance actions you should take care of regularly:
- Design Update – Any design gets boring after a while. So try to have a new design every 6 months. Depending on the page it may also be enough to change the design once a year.
- Bug Fixing – Not much to say about it. Just listen to any bug reports and get the bugs out of your code.
- Optimization – If the site seems to slow down, have a look if there is a section you can optimize. Also, if you learn something new, see if you can apply it to the website
- Updates – If it is new content or new features, see what you can do to keep your visitors interested
My list is far away from being complete but I believe I covered the most essential parts of the maintenance section.
If everything turned out well, your website should be up and running and hopefully you have many visitors. Who knows, maybe it becomes as famous as one of the other big sites on the Internet?
These are my 6 steps. I hope they are somewhat helpful for those who want to create an own website but have no real idea about what the website could be. Keep in mind, these steps work for me and in the basics they reflect standard procedures all designer and programmer go through.
And how do you approach the process of creating a website?