Websites come in all shapes and sizes. Some are very big, like the BBC News website, which contains over 10 years of news articles. Others have to be safe and secure, such as online banking or shopping sites. Here we explain how professional websites are planned and put together - and how you get to view them.
Most organisations or businesses will either use a web agency to design and build their website or, if they have their own web teams, they will build it in-house.
The client will decide how much money they want to spend on building the website, how long they have to build it and also how the website will be maintained once it is built. The web team will then take this information and produce a production plan for the client to agree before they start work on the site.
Sometimes a client will ask many web agencies to ‘pitch’ for the work. This means that web agencies will come up with ideas and present them to the client. The client then picks the web agency they would like to work with.
So, what is the website going to offer? What features does it want people to be able to use on the site? Should it offer photographs or images and text content?
Will users be able to play games or contribute to the discussion using message boards or forums? Does the site need to let users buy and sell things and if so, how is it going to accept payment?
These and many other questions need to be raised at the planning stage.
Choosing the features
Ideas for features on a website may be tested with audiences to see what works. This is called ‘user-centred design’ and involves getting feedback from people at an early stage in the building of a website.
It is a great way of finding out which features audiences will really love and which ideas can be left out. It’s helpful to know what people want to see - and more importantly - does the whole thing make sense? Once this information has been gathered, the website can be built!
Content and design
Big companies, like the BBC, employ different teams to build websites and also to keep them running smoothly so they are available for you to access and use.
Once the ideas have been tested then the writers, designers and web builders can begin to construct the site. For instance, the BBC Food web team will have writers who write the articles, work with the TV teams, research any recipes or features and ensure that all the content is checked for spelling and grammar.
Web designers then create the pages, including colours and layout, designing any graphics and choosing photographs. They may also create more complex interactive features such as online games. Once all this work is done, the producer will approve the design or maybe conduct some more testing with users to check that it meets the requirements.
The technical team then build the website using the content and designs they have been given.
This involves coding the website, using web languages like HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and ensuring that it will work correctly on the servers. They also make sure it can be used by people who have different browsers or computers that use different operating systems, such as Windows or Mac.
Once the website has been built and tested, it is then published onto the internet by uploading the website onto a publicly visible server - which allows you to connect to the site and view the pages.
Keeping it all running
Big websites have many thousands of visitors every day, so the technical team also has to make sure that it has the capacity to deliver these web pages.
Big events like the World Cup mean that many people may want to watch or listen to the football matches online at the same time. The technical teams ensure that the site doesn’t break down and that you get the web experience you expect.
A lot goes on behind the scenes when a website is created, with many teams involved in building and maintaining many sites. Many websites ask for your feedback and ideas so that they can make improvements. So if you have an idea or want to express you views, then look for the ‘Contact Us’ link on the site and send the web team your thoughts.