The High Seas Website Development Process in Six Steps
Enterprise website development is a complex, iterative process with many moving parts that work in conjunction to create intuitive websites with functionalities and integrations that streamline business processes and address user needs.
While it can be a confusing, complex process, the crew at High Seas has the expertise to break down our website development life cycle in terms your company’s stakeholders can understand. Using our combined years of experience, we’ve divided our web development process into six steps that each enterprise website goes through to ensure the final product meets user needs and your business requirements.
1. Discovery Phase
Website development is a challenging endeavor, especially for a large company or enterprise-level organization. At the beginning of the web development process, it’s essential to undergo a discovery phase that allows our development team to learn about your company’s needs and objectives and assess the existing website infrastructure and the project’s overall feasibility.
Along with gathering information and performing assessment processes, our crew will clarify your business, brand, and marketing problems to address during the website development life cycle. During the discovery phase, we’ll also identify any potential risks that could impact the project life cycle.
After a thorough discovery phase, our website development team will strategize a project plan that includes timelines, cost estimates, budgeting specifics, and project requirements.
The discovery phase is a crucial component of the web development life cycle. It ensures our development team understands your business needs, project requirements, and the scope of work to be completed so we can set realistic expectations that fit your timeline.
At High Seas, we encourage our clients to take their time clarifying the goals their enterprise website will help them reach to ensure the greatest degree of information and detail is included. Knowing exactly what you want from your enterprise website development will reduce the risk of going over budget and lengthy project timelines that occur when necessary components are not identified until after the website development process has begun.
A well-thought-out project plan is integral to our website development process. The project plan determines the web development tools, programming languages, and tech stack developers will use to create your custom enterprise website.
Your project requirements guide the phases of website development and determine the trajectory of the development process. We’ll identify your business’s primary goals and objectives and prioritize the functionalities to be implemented.
Your High Seas web development team will collect the following information, which is then analyzed and evaluated to form a cohesive picture of the total project requirements:
- Business goals
- System & regulatory constraints
- Target audience & customers
- Brand story & guidelines
- Existing technology infrastructure, functionality, and content
- Current marketing efforts, tools, and materials
- Communication channels, including marketing campaigns, social presence, and blogs
- Schedule and Timelines
- The scheduled timeline for the discovery phase of our website development process is a rough, flexible plan with an adaptive process depending on many factors, such as the complexity of the website. Each development project is different, and sometimes the discovery phase takes longer with some projects than others.
- Cost Estimation
As the last step in the discovery phase of our website development process, we’ll provide a range of project costs and scheduling estimations to ensure the project fits within your business’s financial plan and timeline.
2. Defining Phase
During the defining stage of our web development life cycle, your High Seas developer crew will conduct research, observations, surveys/questionnaires, card sorts/tree tests, usability tests, UI/UX A/B tests, and interviews with stakeholders and customers.
We use this information-gathering research to develop and present measurable plans and outcomes for your business’s strategic goals. These goals may include an overall sales increase, brand growth, increased consumer awareness, and improved customer engagement.
Your project analysis entails developing quantifiable and verifiable enterprise website requirements derived from user needs, hardware and system constraints, and human factors.
Your business’s strategic plan and outcomes will include:
- Project vision & summary
- Competitive analysis & positioning
- Category/keyword research & data analysis
- Strategic goals
- Target audiences/customer personas & journey mapping
- Key messaging points & messaging architecture
- The website development methodologies to be used
Before the web development process continues into the actual creation phase, your organization’s key stakeholders should review and approve our enterprise website development plan.
3. Development Phase
Our website developers use the information we received from the discovery and defining phases to begin coding and building out your custom enterprise website. Our crew translates the project requirements into actionable steps that fit together like puzzle pieces to build the website out piece by piece.
The following are the steps each website project goes through during the development stage of the website development process.
Site Structure and Blueprints
At this stage of the website development life cycle, our developer team will determine the best site architecture for your project requirements, main user navigation design and functionalities, content types, features, components, and recommendations.
Site architecture includes:
- Visual Site Map: High-level site diagrams define basic user roles, motivations for action, the conditions present, desired goals, and function per section/system.
- Content Model: The iterative process of defining the content elements and how they relate to each other to support the user experience begins.
- Information Architecture: Information architecture is the structure for how information flows and users interact with it on your website. A database design is identified to support the information architecture.
- High-Level Wireframe: A high-fidelity wireframe is often necessary for comprehensive user testing, depending on the goals of the wireframe.
Wireframes and Prototyping
After designing a blueprint for your website development process, the next stage is the creation of detailed wireframes that will determine what content will appear on each screen. The wireframes act as a model for the development team that gives a detailed view of how content will be organized and prioritized, and how users will navigate it.
Site navigation is designed by:
- Identifying base-level user roles and functions
- Identifying intent and the underlying systems
- Establishing content, relationships, and pathways
The next stage of web development is creating interactive Lean prototypes of your website that are early models designed to test a concept or process. Lean prototypes give stakeholders and user testers a workable model of your website to see how it will look and function. If necessary, the UI/UX is restrategized before the next iteration to better meet user needs and functionality requirements.
Visual Design System
In this stage of the website development life cycle, known as the visual design system, a visual concept of the website is created to guide and enhance the user experience. This stage focuses on how everything will look to users when they visit your site.
Included in the visual design system:
- The development of a high-level brand voice, positioning, and messaging, as well as placing your website’s most compelling content to drive measurable business results
- All the photos, videos, illustrations, and visual effects for each website screen
Enterprise Website Front-End Development
The next stage of the web development life cycle is for front-end developers to establish the development schedule and begin coding the front end, the website’s public-facing portion that users will see and interact with. Our front-end developers use the latest web development technologies to create a website’s front end, which plays a vital role in ensuring the final product is user-friendly and easy to use.
Using structured, iterative testing, website deliverables are created through technology assessments to determine optimal technical architecture, research, prototyping, testing, end-user validation, and the refinement of website features. Iterative testing is an efficient process that keeps stakeholders involved and informed throughout the process so any feedback can quickly be implemented before the website’s next iteration.
Our front-end implementation strategy includes collaboration with content management system (CMS) developers to identify front-end CMS integration requirements. Front-end developers maintain constant communication channels with the design and dev teams to ensure designs can be fully translated into functional website elements.
To summarize the front-end development stage of the web development life cycle, the High Seas developers will begin working on:
- Front-end development for custom applications and CMS platforms
- Developing code for interactive, animated, and parallax elements
- Integration of custom front-end elements with CMS, setting up information architecture, content blocks, and automated content flow
- Development of SCSS files for all page elements on both mobile and desktop
- Integrated, iterative testing and quality control throughout each phase
Working closely with web designers and back-end developers, our front-end web developers focus on bridging the gap between theory and practice, turning ideas into tangible website interfaces and functionalities.
Enterprise Website Back-End Development
Back-end development is responsible for the behind-the-scenes functionalities of a website, along with the security protocols and integrations and website performance. A back-end developer must be highly skilled in many different programming languages and understand server administration to create effective back-end code.
Back-end development includes a combination of the following:
- Full-stack web development
- Most major custom web and mobile technologies and platforms, including PHP, Java, Ruby on Rails, Node.js, ASP.NET, Python, native iOS and Android, and React Native
- Database and data architecture design and development, including SQL, NoSQL, and graph databases, and data platforms such as FireBase, AWS, and Azure
- Shared web, mobile, and native website back-ends
- Custom API and 3rd-party system integrations
- Bluetooth and network connectivity, with firmware update support for IoT such as connected devices and wearables
Platform back-end development includes a combination of:
- Custom CMS platform development for WordPress, Drupal, Concrete5, and more
- Headless CMS development
- eCommerce integration development with WooCommerce, Drupal Commerce, Shopify, and Magento
- Developing custom plugins/modules
- Setup and implementation of plugins/modules for any scenario
- Support for all major data sources and databases, including 3rd-party data integrations
- Hybrid platforms, such as WordPress with Shopify
- Monitoring of security systems with updates and ongoing maintenance upon request
4. Quality Control and Testing
During the quality control and testing stage, our developers put websites through rigorous testing processes designed to identify and fix bugs and add any missing functionalities.
Systematic testing processes ensure developers are thoroughly acquainted with the UI and UX and can work toward achieving the best possible website for end users.
We utilize the following testing methods to ensure each website meets our quality standards:
Quality Assurance Testing
During each stage of web development, quality assurance teams seek to identify and fix any errors before the site moves on to the next iteration. Some of the most common quality assurance testing types are functional, load, and compatibility.
UI/UX testing focuses on how users interact with a website. Using their observations of users, developers can identify areas of the UX that need improvement. Along with UX testing, developers leverage user tests to ensure the website’s UI is easy and intuitive to use and visually appealing to potential users.
Functionality testing is a vital step that ensures a website is prepared to handle large influxes of traffic and transactions. Developers simulate real-world usage scenarios to put the website through its paces to gauge its performance. Common functionality tests include load testing to see how a site responds to high traffic volume and stress testing to assess how the site holds up to high activity levels.
Enterprise websites often need to cater to a wide range of users with differing needs, making usability testing a vital component of the web development life cycle. By observing real users, developers can form an intimate understanding of the website’s most important features and test hypotheses for how the site should be structured.
Usability testing helps identify potential problems that users may encounter and assists with creating a user-friendly website for all user types.
Small groups of users are shown two or more variations of a website page at random. Using statistical analysis, developers can determine each user’s preferred page variant. A/B testing can determine the best performing page variant for different conversion goals, whether that’s signing up for a mailing list, purchasing a product or service, or something else.
A more complex form of A/B testing, multivariate testing allows developers to show users multiple combinations of page variants simultaneously to find the best possible combination of features and user experiences. Multivariate testing is especially effective at improving conversion rates, which allows developers to fine-tune your website to meet user needs.
5. Enterprise Website Launch
High Seas uses an iterative development process when building enterprise websites, which typically consists of one or two-week sprints focused on refining and implementing subsets of features and capabilities into the whole.
Once functionalities and UI/UX are dialed into the desired requirements, the next step is to launch the website online. Website launch involves registering a domain name, subscribing to a web hosting service, and publishing the website.
6. Maintenance & Updates
Your enterprise web development company should be a team you can rely on for maintenance and updates after your website goes live. Enterprise web development doesn’t end once the site goes live, and often, problems and functionality issues reveal themselves once a website is live for daily use.
Ongoing updates and maintenance are necessary to ensure your new enterprise website maintains security standards and continues functioning as intended. Based on user feedback, there will also likely be updates and functionality improvements you’ll want to add as time goes on.
Embark on Your Next Enterprise Website Development Journey with High Seas
The High Seas web development life cycle is designed to afford flexibility and adaptability so that your project requirements, desired functionalities, and business goals are met on time and within budget.
As a seasoned enterprise website development company, our crew can walk you through each step of our web development process. High Seas can provide the web solution you’re looking for that will save your business time and money while streamlining business operations and improving customer communication, engagement, and experience.