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Web Development : Layers and Life Cycle of Web Development

Web development refers to the building, creating, and maintaining of websites. It includes aspects such as web design, web publishing, web programming, and database management. It is the creation of an application that works over the internet i.e. websites.


Web development skills are in high demand worldwide and well paid too – making development a great career option. It is one of the easiest accessible higher paid fields as you do not need a traditional university degree to become qualified.


The field of web development is generally broken down into front-end (the user-facing side) and back-end (the server side).


Layers of Web Development


Server Side

Backend or server-side development incorporates all the processes that go behind the scene in a website. The management of databases, servers, and logical components are the main components of the backend. These are not tangible for the users, but without a strong backend development team, your website will be an empty page that can not do any tasks.


Client-Side

This layer, also referred to as the frontend, mainly deals with the visual presentation and designing of the site. Frontend developers work on creating a seamless user experience through responsive web pages using CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. Without a good user interface, your website will not be able to attract customers.


Full Stack

Full-Stack development combines the frontend and backend, encapsulating the whole web development process. In this layer, you deal with the entire stack of tasks and technologies involved in the website development life cycle.



Web Development Stages:

The 7 stages of web development cycle are –

  1. Research

  2. Planning

  3. Designing

  4. Content creation

  5. Development

  6. Testing

  7. Maintenance.


The 7 Phases of Web Development Life Cycle


1. Research and Analysis

Most people ignore this critical step in the web development process. To ensure that your design and development is on the right path, gathering information about the project and the client is crucial. Unless your developers have a clear idea of what they are working for and what the requirements are, they will not be able to provide the right solution.

Some of the common questions to ask yourself or your clients in the information gathering stage are-

Purpose:

  1. What is the purpose of the website?

  2. What type of website/web app will it be – informational, commercial, product, or service-based?

  3. What is your target audience?

Requirements:

  1. Is there adequate demand in the market?

  2. Why do users need your website?

  3. What requirements of the consumers are you trying to fulfill?

  4. What are the non-negotiable requirements for the website?

Expectations:

  1. What do you expect the look and feel to be?

  2. How and what will the website generate for your business?

  3. What features will the user expect from such an application?

  4. What are some features you wish to include?

During this phase, it is important to visualize what type of people your website is going to be catering to. Taking into consideration their age, gender, preferences, and needs, set goals and generate requirement elicitation documents.


2. Planning and Strategy

The Planning stage involves strategizing all the aspects of the website including design, technology, content, and marketing. Based on the information gathered and analyzed in the last stage, informed decisions are made about the structure and features of the website.

In the Planning phase, a dedicated team is formed with each member having a defined role and delegated with clear tasks.

Deciding on the content structure, wireframe (schematics and rough designs), choosing the technology stack and software development methodology are important decisions to take before website creation. Technology stack is a set of programming languages, web frameworks, and software that are used to build any web app.

Creating a sitemap, estimating timelines, defining deliverables, and allocation of resources are also essential parts of the Planning phase. Finally, you have to decide on the branding of your website before moving on to the Design phase.


3. Designing and Wireframing

The web design stage involves designing website layout and brings in the creative UI-UX designers to the forefront.

The layout involves designing a rough sketch, which may be graphical, to get a feel of the design of the website. The purpose of the layout is to present an information structure, enabling a visual tour of the content and base features for your clients.

The wireframe designed in the last stage is transformed into buttons, tabs, menus, dashboards, colour themes, typography, and graphics to create a base layout of the website.

Keeping in mind the audience research, design an interactive website that caters to their preferences and demands. Make sure your website or application does not become mundane. Include graphics, colors, and other media to attract users without deviating from the branding and purpose of your website.


4. Content Creation

Eventually, content is king. If you are unable to communicate with your customers and readers, no amount of fancy design can help you.

Creating a communication channel through the user interface is the main aim of the content creation stage.

Content writing involves providing relevant information about your company in an easy-to-understand, attractive manner. Adding calls-to-action, creative headlines, formatting, line editing, writing, and updating texts go on throughout the web development lifecycle.

This phase develops the branding and marketing of your site or web app and lets you define your website purposes through content writing.

Content is the only way to interact with end-users and convert them into customers, so make sure to pay due attention and focus on user’s problems and what solutions you can offer.


5. Code and Development

The development phase involves the actual building of the website. Developing the client-side and server-side of the website is accomplished in this stage. It is the most time-consuming part of the website development process.

Front-end Web Development The designs made in the early stages are transformed into interactive elements on the web page. Web designers integrate components and functions to the website skeleton, using frameworks and development tools.

HTML, CSS, and a scripting language, generally JavaScript, are used by the web designer to create a user-friendly site. For a majority of web applications, Bootstrap and Foundation are preferred for frontend development using HTML and CSS.

For JavaScript, several frontend frameworks are available in the market.


Back-end Web Development This phase involves developing the actual features of the web app. While the frontend designs the visual elements, dealing with the user side, the backend codes instructions to make each element perform the necessary functions.

Server-side encompasses the process of developing the server-side app, creating databases, writing the application logic, and integrating server and client-side functions. Developers use several technologies and programming languages in this stage.



7. Testing and Quality Assurance

After the website is developed, a set of rigorous tests are conducted to eliminate any bugs in the system. The Quality Assurance team performs repeated testing methods such as Unit testing, Stress testing, and Load testing meticulously, checking the functionality, usability, compatibility, and performance of the web app.

Project consistency is important to have a well-functioning site that provides a seamless user experience. Testing the working of all features on all devices and platforms is also crucial.

Apart from this, making small additions such as plugins and SEO-optimization to ensure a smooth deployment. Testing Engineers and developers work together in a loop till the QA team ensures the final website is ready to be deployed to users.



8. Deployment and Maintenance

Once you receive the stamp of approval from the QA team, the website or app is finally ready for deployment. Using File Transfer Protocol, the app is hosted on the web servers and is available to the viewers.

But the work is not over. Continuous feedback from user interaction lets you know the scopes of improvement. Accordingly, the web application development life cycle is executed to make the necessary modifications.



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