“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
The web development lifecycle (WDL) is a more specific variation on the general framework for developing any application development project. Unlike general application development, all web design and development projects follow a similar structure, so the web development lifecycle/process can be drawn upon as a point of reference for both the web development team and the client to determine the status of any given project and the area of activity to address next.
The Web Development Lifecycle is made up of eight identifiable stages described as follows:
1. Initial Consultation
The Initial Consultation seeks to understand the high-level business requirements, the scale of the web development, the required delivery schedule, and the overall feasibility, web design, and cost of the project.
2. Project Specification
The business requirements of the proposed website are iteratively established between the Client and the web design team, and documented in the form of a High-Level Requirements Specification. The focus here is on the relevant business rules and outputs. Implementation of the system, how the requirements are actually delivered, is reserved for later. Once agreed, this document will form the basis of the subsequent stages of the Web Development Lifecycle.
3. Web Site Architecture
Here the software and hardware requirements for delivery of the web application are established, such as the most appropriate web and application development language, operating system, database management system (DBMS), and hardware/hosting environment that are most appropriate to support the final website in a robust and reliable manner; taking account of the likely growth of data volumes, visitor numbers web traffic, and functionality.
4. Web Site Design Cycle
Deliverables out of this phase have a particular focus on the web design of the system, include mock-ups or prototypes of the screens that make up the system, combined with system walkthroughs which will enable both the Client and the software developers, designers, and project management team to clearly understand how the website will work from the user and administrators perspective. The design of the CRM would also be fully considered here also. This web application functionality is considered in the context of the defined outputs and business rules and may result in the High-Level Requirement Specification being updated or changed. Following this, a key deliverable here is a Low-Level Website Design Specification / Document precisely defining the required implementation of the web design and forming a blueprint of the project for the software developers.
5. Content Collation
Any required textual and graphical content for the web application is developed or acquired by the Client (or the software development company, depending on the relevant situation). Admin functionality which enables the Client to amend the full content of the site from system launch, and on an ongoing basis, is assumed to have been included and defined within the High-Level Requirements Specification, as mentioned.
6. Web Site Project development
At this stage a detailed project plan will have been established for the implementation of the web design, resources identified, time scales defined, and project dependencies clearly understood – especially with respect to which parts of the web development can be done in serial or parallel. This stage actually overlaps with the next stage of the Web Development Lifecycle since all web-developed modules are unit tested to destruction by the corresponding web development team members. Further, it is very important that all code produced by the software developers is quality checked to ensure adherence to project development standards.
7. Testing & Quality Assurance
Many forms of testing are carried out during this phase, from the system and volume testing – in order to ensure that all components work together within the web application and can easily cope with both the initial and anticipated future demands on the system – all the way to User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and sign-off. There are many forms of testing required during this phase that is beyond the scope of this introduction, such as cross-browser and security testing – all contributing towards the delivery of a high-quality website and service to the client.
8. Web Site Deployment (Launch)
Once the website implementation is tested and released by both the client and software development company as being fully operational, the website is deployed to the production environment and open to the relevant user base. Following this, there is generally a pre-agreed period of warranty and an ongoing support agreement can be established at the discretion of the client.
The process can vary but, generally speaking, the dependencies and features of a successful process of delivering web applications to the client do not. I hope this has been a useful introduction to the process of delivering quality web applications to any business.
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