What's involved in Website Design & Development

Website Design

Website design is the initial process you go through as you begin to work out what you want your website to look like. This process also involves working out what type of functionality you want your site to have.

Often called a wireframe, a designer (or yourself) will draw out the sections of a image of a wireframe examplewebpage to see how everything will fit onto the webpage and how the layout will look (see image below).

For people looking to invest a little more time and money into their design, it is common place to conduct UI (Usability testing) testing on potential customers. This allows the design to be tested on real users and is hugely beneficial for discovering if the website will acheive the goals you have for it.

Website Development

Website development is the process of bringing the wireframe to life. By this, we mean coding the backend of the website to create the look and feel that was agreed upon during the website design process. This also involves developing all of the functionality of the website.

In today's world, most websites are using some sort of content management system (CMS) and this makes the development phase a much easier task. Most of the functionality side of the development can be easily acheived by installing pre-built scripts. This also allows for much easier updates or upgrades down the track.

This is also true of the designing phase, as a CMS will always involve using a template that will provide the look and feel of the site. Unlike the development of the functionality; a great deal of time is spent on altering the template to create the website design that is trying to be achieved.

What are the essential concepts I should know about?

All websites require two things: The first is a domain name (www.yourdomain.com.au) and the second is a web hosting package; this is where all of the sites files will sit on a web server.

Domain Names

Domain names can be easily purchased for as little as $8 per year. Some web hosting companies will give you a domain name for free when you purchase a web hosting package.

It is really important to also buy a DNS (domain name server) account as well. This will allow you (or your designer) to change essential records that control things like; Mail records, name servers - which tell the DNS where the website is being hosted. It is not essential to host your domain name, your website and your email on the same servers. They can all be hosted on seperate servers and this is the main function of the DNS account.

Web Hosting accounts

A web hosting account contains all of the files that are needed to produce a website. They vary in size (disk space, data transfer and databases) and what you can and can't do with them (email accounts, url redirects, what scripts can be run, security measures etc).

Today, most web designers will have large web hosting accounts where they will host mulitple sites. You can still expect to pay a monthly web hosting fee, regardless of whether your site has it's own web hosting package or sits on a developers web hosting package.

Depending on the size of your site and whether or not you are hosting a lot of video and images, you can expect a monthly web hosting fee to start at around $20 per month (from a developer) or $10 per month if you buy your own.