I've read plenty of interesting analogies used to explain what building a website is like. I've even written a few myself. From various points of view, a website could be compared to a car, a house, a cellphone, a movie, or all kinds of other things. I've even heard a website compared to a clown (don't ask)! Most of the time, these analogies are striving to find the most effective way of emphasizing the time, cost, complexity or purpose of a website project. Rather than construct yet another metaphor around that point, I'm just going to come right out and say it: Building a website is a complex task that takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money. But that's not the really interesting part, is it?
The really interesting part is how it gets done. Think about some of the analogies I listed--a car, a house, or a movie. Each of these is obviously the result of a long, costly, and complex process. But a striking difference is where a car, house, or movie can be made with almost no direct input from the consumer, a good website cannot be built without significant involvement from the client throughout the project. It's this difference that makes it so critical that anyone anticipating a web project be well versed in the process.
Over the next two articles, I want to show you what it takes to build a new website. This month, I'll cover the planning, design, development and quality assurance stages of a project, focusing on how it all comes together through the work of developers like us and the people we work with.