A useful guide

5-stage web development process that works for any website

Web design  |  5 min read

Websites don’t just happen.

The process steps for developing a small business website require a systematic approach that blends art, science (data), and technology. Your web pages should answer a local Singapore visitor’s questions and be prepared for unexpected enquiries from abroad. Sites should be visually appealing and easy to use, yet also work quickly regardless of device, connection speed, or visitor knowledge.

What you need is a knowledgeable, experienced developer to explain the phases of a project, starting with a thorough analysis of what you want the website to do for your business. A crucial stage is deciding the type of website best suited to your needs. Each stage of web development has a series of “If A, then B” questions that create a foundation for your website.

Small and mid-sized enterprises (SME) often face difficult choices in each stage of web development because of limited time and resources. A patient approach to creating, or updating, your website is a process that should be an investment in your future, not just a do-it-yourself project.

Here are 5 stages you should plan for when considering a web project:

  1. Business analysis
  2. Website planning
  3. Web design and development
  4. Review and approval
  5. Site launch

Begin with a conversation involving a web design professional about goals you have for the website and how they match up with:

  • The existing technology you’re using;
  • Your budget and timing expectations for development; and
  • Any future needs that your SME predicts as you grow.
Illustration depicting web development process and milestones

Business analysis and website planning

The first project step as you analyse the goals and objectives for a website is part of a broader strategy. What do you want the site to accomplish? Who are the primary users and who needs the valuable data it generates? And, do you have an inventory of existing resources such as:

  • Domain registrations – is there an active website address?
  • Hosting contracts and any limitations.
  • Keywords for search engine optimisation or analytics tools that track visitor patterns.
  • Review of a current website or social media accounts and performance.
  • Study your competitors and the features you like or dislike about other websites.

Gather up branding and logo files, photos, videos, written copy for each web page and decide what more is needed. Create a working document of who will produce these resources by a particular date. Consider the budget if you need, or want, new photos, video, or other visual content assets for your website from an outside provider company.

Then you’re ready to talk with a web design professional about what you know about your business. We explore other details that you might not know – search rankings, online reputation, or email delivery issues – that can impact your website strategy.

The Emerge mLab team of digital marketing specialists works to ensure that your website provides a steady supply of sales leads. We’ll examine how web visitors can best interact with your site for maximum results and engagement.

Web design and development

Do you have an existing website to compare traffic numbers or visit times? Perhaps you want to try a promotional offer for a limited time and see how things change – time of day, new vs. returning customers, pricing, etc. Examine your web pages and social accounts for information that may need to be retired or updated.

There’s always something new to try in website strategy, but the more attention you spend on getting results, rather than just trying more experiments, will get you closer to the “ideal website” with outcomes you want.

Working with your design team, prepare a set of alternatives – your preferred colours and visual elements, layouts (scrolling one-page or multiple pages), or other styles and options to see which ones produce the best results – and, more importantly, which ones lead to sales and profits. Your website should work for your business, not the other way around.

This ongoing evolution is yet another strong reason to pick website design partners that work together with you. Emerge mLab is here to help every step of the way.

Review and approval

After you approve the working plan, we move to the development and implementation stage. We’ll consider how the content fits on each page, how pages flow together to tell a story, and how much information you want to supply the visitor to encourage enquiries and sales conversations. Reviewing and approving this material is part of a pre-launch discussion along with how you’ll promote the new website.

Site launch

Give your web design project a timetable to see how quickly new pages create visitor traffic or responses. You may need to tweak the content if users click through your sites with a different habit than you had predicted in the development stage.

Perhaps, in a consumer-facing business, you might ask for feedback on how people are finding the pages. Are they helpful, convenient? Can you offer a discount for self-service or orders placed online to encourage new behaviour?

In a business-to-business company, where pre-qualification and buyer enquiries need to be routed to the correct expert, consider a chatbot for immediate connections. But, if you do, be sure to have someone regularly monitor these interactions.

You might post hours of operation and service promises (for example, “We will reply to your email or web inquiry within 48 hours”) so that visitors know what to expect.

Fast fixes and regular maintenance for software should be part of your annual plan. Set a few calendar dates to discuss changes or results with your website team and see what is new in your industry, in your technology, or in response to a competitor.

Key takeaways
  • Go faster from website ideas to completion, by organising goals for web pages and being organised. Ask “What if?” questions to see how website decisions affect your company’s daily operation – from sales to service.
  • Consult a web design professional to align your needs and goals with resources, budget, timing, and a smooth process.
  • Plan for future maintenance, updates, and phases. There’s no need to do everything at once, smaller steps can help resolve unknowns and capacity that you might need to handle growth, expansion, or unexpected changes.
David Wallace
David Wallace

Content strategy & creation

Contributed to Wired, Reuters, The New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer as reporter/editor for 15 years. Adjunct news reporting instructor at Emerson College, then Boston University in US.

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