Successfully Launching A New Website - Part Four
25th June 2021
Part Four: Development
This is the fourth instalment of our blog series on best practices for successfully planning, building and launching a new website.
Our first article in this series explained how to execute the research, planning and specification stage of your website build to ensure launch success. Then, our second article explained how you can plan and create new content for your website, and what to consider when migrating existing content from your old site to your new one. Our third instalment looked at the design phase and some tips for creating visuals.
Now, we’re going to dive into the development stage, including looking back at our functional spec, setting up our project, building pages, testing, and content upload and migration.
Review the Functional Specification & Designs
Once the functional specification and designs have been approved, it’s now over to the development team to convert the visuals into a working site.
This process begins with a kick-off meeting between the designer, project manager and lead developer - where the functional specification and designs are reviewed, and everybody is brought up to speed on the project details. This ensures that any obscurities or unusual details about the project do not get forgotten or misunderstood.
Create a Website Project
SilverDisc starts all website builds using a customised installation of Drupal or Magento, which has been carefully tailored to ensure optimal speed, security and SEO features. Using this partly pre-configured installation allows us to reduce our build times and ensure all websites have a solid foundation for ongoing marketing activities. The core site will contain only essential features, to ensure that the website is only packed with the bare minimum code and to keep performance levels high.
Once the installation has been made, the code is added to a GIT repository (a version control platform), which allows for code sharing between developers. This allows multiple developers to be working on the project at the same time and makes sure that the code is backed up safely.
Analyse Module Requirements
Every website is different and requires its own bespoke features. These features can sometimes be installed using external modules or extensions. For example, a site might need an events page to have an address field attached to it. This could be solved by using a Drupal module already developed by the Drupal community.
Using modules or extensions from the open-source community is beneficial for two reasons. Firstly, it saves time. There is no sense in coding something that has already been done. And secondly, the modules or extensions are frequently being updated with new features and security fixes.
In the event that a module or extension doesn’t exist for a requirement, one of the skilled developers at SilverDisc can create the feature from scratch, bespoke to the requirements.
At the start of the website project, the lead developer will analyse the requirements and determine which existing modules should be installed, and whether any custom modules will need to be developed.
Building Page Templates
During the functional specification and content planning stages, the website will have been divided into different page types. An example of these page types could be blog posts, services or case studies. Naturally, each page type will have its own data model and page design. The developer will create the data model for each page, and then make sure the content is structured and styled according to the website visuals.
All SilverDisc, websites go through an extensive internal testing process before we present them to the client. Every website has a tailored testing plan created, which is then used each time the site is updated or changed. This ensures the site always functions as needed and helps to eliminate any bugs creeping in.
Content Upload or Migration
Once SilverDisc has completed internal testing on the site, it is then presented to the client, who is taught all about the CMS and how to upload and edit content. Depending on the website package, the content could be uploaded by the SilverDisc team or the client. If it’s a site migration, then SilverDisc can assist with content migration tools that speed up the process.
And that wraps up the development stage! In our final blog post in this series, we’ll finish off by explaining what happens when a site is officially launched and ready to receive visitors.