User-Centered Web Development Roadmap for IEEE Webmasters

Although web design is critical in launching a website, it is just one leg in the overall journey toward creating a successful, engaging, user-centered web experience. The steps provided below may help you in your project planning and offer a starting point for further exploration of the user-centered web development process. The process is not comprehensive, nor must the steps always be performed in the order shown.

Research, Planning and Information Gathering

  • Vision, goals, metrics and strategy setting - establish the “what,” “why,” and “how” of your site
  • Site need assessment* -determine whether a new site is needed or content can be added to another site
  • Resource planning / partner selection - engage internal and external resources as needed
  • Site review / updates** -have existing site reviewed by a web usability expert; address urgent issues found
  • Best practice education / benchmarking - study industry best practices; benchmark against competitors
  • User research - conduct new research and/or study past findings to better understand your audience(s)
  • Update vs. recreate decision** - decide whether to evolve your current site or redesign / rearchitect

* for new sites only
** for existing sites only

Wireframing and Information Architecture

  • Use cases - outline the most common scenarios for which a user would come to your site
  • Task paths - consider how a user would expect to accomplish their tasks on your site
  • Information architecture - organize and label content to align with user needs/task paths; create sitemap
  • Content inventory / analysis - fit existing content into new sitemap / architecture; assess what’s missing
  • Functional & technical requirements - determine needed functionality to support content presentation; consider content management system (CMS) and hosting options
  • Wire frames - layout pages based on your information architecture and user research (aka storyboarding)
  • Usability testing / updates - user test wireframes or prototypes to confirm that they make sense to users

Design, Development and Documentation

  • Look & feel - consider options for the look & feel of your site; select most appropriate; apply to wireframes
  • Content creation/enhancement - make existing pages more user-friendly; create new content as needed
  • Design and development - add front and back-end coding to bring your designs to life on the web
  • CMS implementation - if desired, integrate your website into a content management system
  • Documentation / governance - develop style guides, policies, and procedures as needed for site upkeep
  • Quality assurance / internal testing - check content quality, links, technical performance, accessibility, etc.
  • Usability testing / updates - user test earliest available beta environment or high-fidelity functional designs

Launch, Training, Communication, Evaluation and Maintenance/Updates

  • Stakeholder / user communication - notify necessary audiences of launch plans
  • Site launch - publish site and begin performance and usage monitoring
  • Stakeholder and site team training / support - provide site team with needed tools and education
  • Continuous evaluation, testing & refinement - evaluate site against goals & metrics; update as needed