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Everything you need to know about website development

Website development — featured image

From start to finish, the website development process includes everything involved in creating a website—from planning the basic website structure to developing content and customizing it for a unique look.

In this guide, we'll dive into how to make a website using web development, breaking down the process into the different types and stages. We'll also offer some well-known web development tools to help you start.

You can make a Wix website without having to become a full-stack engineer. Code masters can create enterprise-level sites and APIs with Velo by Wix.

What is website development?

Website development is the creation, build and maintenance of a website. This includes markup (the language developers use to create websites), coding (the programming language), network configuration and Content Management Systems (CMS) CMS.

Many use "web development" to describe the actual construction of websites. It includes what you'll find "under the hood," or on a website's backend, as well as any coding needed for the frontend (the visible interface of a website). Web development also consists of programming languages, frameworks, libraries and more.

In this vein, website development is mostly completed by developers who write the code—including HTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and Javascript—that allows a website to function properly. They often collaborate with website designers, graphic designers, content managers, project managers, and software developers. Various day-to-day tasks include as translating wireframes into code, creating a website's structure and architecture, building out the functionality and features, launching a site, updating or renovating a website and, of course, troubleshooting, fixing bugs and glitches. Web developers strive to keep the end user's needs front and center.

How does web development differ from web design and cyber security? While web developers create, manage and maintain websites, web designers focus on the look and feel of a website, deciding on the colors, typography and user experience flow. Cybersecurity professionals, on the other hand, protect these websites from viruses, attackers and malicious code.

What is a website?

When learning how to develop a website, you must answer: What exactly is a website? A website is the collection of web pages which a creator writes using HTML or code (or creates using a DIY low-code, no-code platform like Wix) and stores digitally. A website creator then chooses to store or hosts these files on a computer server constantly connected to the internet.

A fully functioning website, must have the following:

  • Web hosting: The web host is the server on which the website files are physically stored.

  • Address: Websites need an address for people to find it, just like a house or business. A website address is called the URL (Uniform Resource Locator). For a website to be accessed, it needs a URL. A website also has a domain name, such as A domain name differs from a URL in that the domain name is the website's overall name while the URL is the address of a specific page within that website.

  • Home page: This page welcomes visitors to the website. Upon landing on a Home Page, people get an immediate sense of what the website is about. It also acts as a gateway to the rest of the web pages throughout the site.

  • Design: The website design's overall look and feel is conveyed through graphics, images, colors, typography, navigation, flow and overall user experience.

  • Content: User will consume text, images in the form of SVGs, PNGs and more, and videos on each page.

  • Navigation: How a user steers through a website's structure and order. Simple and straightforward navigation helps users find information easily and quickly.

  • HTTP: HyperText Transfer Protocol is the process of translating the request to find a website online from the computer to the server. When a user types a query or request into a search engine, the HTTP allows the computer and server to speak the same language.

  • Coding: In its simplest form, coding is the process of writing code in programming languages. For computers to communicate with each other, they need a shared language. Coding consists of vocabulary and grammatical rules just like any other human language, but computers, not humans, use it to communicate with one another.

website development — what is a website?

10 types of web development

In this section we’ll break down the different types, or sectors, of the web development ecosystem:

  1. Frontend development

  2. Backend development

  3. Full-stack development

  4. Website development

  5. Desktop development

  6. Mobile development

  7. Game development

  8. Embedded development

  9. Security development

  10. E-commerce development

01. Frontend development

Frontend developers focus on what you see on a website, typically called the user or client side. They are responsible for implementing a website's visual elements as well as those connected to user needs and behavior. While it might sound like this would fall under the category of web design, front-end developers link web design with code.

02. Backend development

Just as the frontend developer works on what you can see, backend developers work on what you don’t see. These behind-the-scenes workers create the invisible systems and structures that ensure a website's functionality, responsiveness and speed. Backend developers are well-versed in programming languages such as Python, Ruby, and SQL, and work primarily with servers, operating systems, APIs and databases. They also manage the code for security, content and site architecture.

03. Full-stack development

A full-stack developer brings together the frontend and backend components needed for a website build. Full-stack developers have mastered HTML, CSS and JavaScript, plus they can navigate their way around the backend technologies and databases. These multi-talented programmers work with graphic designers and other members of the website development team to brainstorm ideas and turn them into prototypes. Ultimately they create and code the functionality and databases needed for fully functioning website.

04. Website development

Just as the name implies, website developers focus entirely on creating websites rather than mobile applications, video games or software. A website developer can be a frontend, backend, or full-stack developer, however they will mainly build websites.

05. Desktop development

Whenever you download an app to your computer, you interact with a desktop developer's creation. In its simplest form, desktop development creates computer software applications, both local and web browser-based.

06. Mobile development

Whether its making a website into an app, or creating a mobile website with responsive or adaptive design methods, mobile development involves creating and writing software specifically for devices like smartphones and tablets. Because mobile devices have unique features, mobile development requires a different skill set than desktop development.

07. Game development

Game developers transform game ideas into playable reality for console, PC and mobile games. They write code for visual elements, program features and test iterations until a game goes to market. Game developers can cover the gamut, from designing an initial concept of a game to translating visual ideas into code and collaborating with designers, producers, artists and quality control analysts.

08. Embedded development

From computer screens in refrigerators to floor-sweeping robots, embedded tech development is growing fast. As usage of interconnected devices continues to grow, manufacturers increasingly look to hire embedded developers.

09. Security development

Security developers work to establish the methods and procedures that protect a website from hackers. They can work as “ethical hackers” exposing any vulnerabilities or gaps in a website or app's security. If they uncover an area of weakness, they create and develop systems to patch the issue or eradicate it altogether.

10. E-commerce development

E-commerce website development includes both the frontend and backend components needed to create an online store. It includes the product pages, shopping cart, order forms, support pages and payment gateway for online purchases. An e-commerce site building project accounts for a company's branding, the domain name and website host. The user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) must be easy to understand so users can quickly find what they need. This includes filters, a search bar, clean design and legible copy—plus security, mobile optimization, SEO, and a smooth checkout experience..

The 4 stages of website development?

Now that we understand the types of web development, we’ll move on to learning the different stages of professional website development:

  1. Planning

  2. Drafting

  3. Development

  4. Launch

01. Planning

Researching and devising a clear strategy will get you on the right path to designing a website that attracts, engages and converts. Ask the following questions to start planning:

  • What is the goal and purpose of your website?

  • Who is your target audience and what do you want them to do when they visit your website?

  • What type of website will you create? (e.g. e-commerce, information, membership)

  • What content will you included?

  • What is the scope of your project? (e.g. pages, functionality, apps)

  • What is your menu navigation going to look like?

  • What’s your budget for the project?

Answer these questions when starting your project to avoid potential obstacles and accomplish your overall website goals.

Website development, planning the site

02. Drafting

Once you've planned your goals and strategy, you can create the website's overall look and flow. The drafting stage includes two steps: creating a wireframe then a site map.

Create a wireframe: Akin to a builder’s blueprint, a wireframe outlines the vision for the final product, roughly presenting which content and features will be included, dependent on the project's scope. You can use a whiteboard or wireframe building tools such as Figma, InVision, Slickplan or Mindnode.

Wireframes shows where text and images might go on the website's frontend by using boxes and "dummy," or lorem ipsum, text.

Create a sitemap: A sitemap lists the pages your website features. The diagram represents where these pages will go and clearly communicates the visual flow of the website. Answer these questions to determine your sitemap:

  • What individual pages do you need?

  • What content will you feature on those pages?

  • How can you organize these pages into categories?

  • What is the page hierarchy?

  • How will you link the pages together?

03. Development

Now that you've completed the prep work, the development phase begins. You can use many different programming languages for a website development project, but most people use a combination of HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

  • HTML: Hyper-Text Markup Language has been around since the 1990s and HTML5 is the latest version. Developers use HTML as the foundation for many websites, but using it alone would create an unattractive site that just lists code.

  • CSS: Cascading Style Sheets allows you to stylize color, typography and layouts in a programming language such as HTML. While HTML lays a site's foundation, CSS declares its aesthetics.

  • JavaScript: While CSS creates an attractive site, JavaScript adds yet another fun element: functionality. Developers use JavaScript to include animations, automated tasks and other interactive features that heighten the user experience.

Website development — javascript

Static vs dynamic websites

When it comes to website functionality, you can choose between static vs dynamic websites, or opt for a hybrid model.

  • On a static website, the content doesn’t change much. These straightforward websites showcase all of the necessary information on the front-end itself. Both businesses and self creators typically use static websites for their portfolios (digital art portfolios, for example) or profiles. If that is what you need, learn how to create a static website.

  • With a dynamic website, the content is stored in a database on the backend. This content changes based on the instructions a user gives. Dynamic content allows for more customization and personalization for the user on the frontend.

  • A hybrid website incorporates both static pages and dynamic content.

In addition to writing code when creating and designing a website, you need to take into account the backend site structures. As mentioned earlier, the backend is the “behind-the-scenes” programming that enables website functionality. For example, when you upload images to your website, you store them on the backend so people can see them on the frontend of your page.

Back-end development hinges on two key components:

  • Database: Where the storing, organizing and processing of the data occurs so the server can easily retrieve it.

  • Server: The hardware and software that makes up your computer. Servers send, process, and receive data requests communicating between the database and the client or web browser. The browser tells the server, “I need to retrieve this information,” and the server in turn gathers that information from the database and sends it to the client.

The database and server work in tandem building the foundation of every website.

Many websites also use a Content Management System (CMS) to build a dynamic website without writing code from scratch. A CMS allows website owners to quickly and easily create, modify and manage large amounts of content without having to change it on every individual page on a website. For example, website creators using Wix can open the content management system on the backend, input changes to the data and the frontend will automatically update.

As browsing the internet from smartphone and tablets becomes ubiquitous, many site owners develop versions of their websites specifically for mobile or even use an app builder tool to create native iOS and Android apps that sync with their websites.

Website development — mobile development

04. Launch

Once you've fully developed, tested and approved your site, you'll want to launch your website so users can find and access it. To do this, you’ll need a domain name. Choose a memorable domain name that best describes your business. You can purchase a domain name from Wix when creating your website for a simple and affordable launch process.

Tip: Check out our website launch checklist to ensure you've covered everything before you press publish.

Website development, setting up a domain

Best web development tools

Many web development tools help make the website creation lifecycle faster and easier. When selecting web development tools for your next website build, keep in mind factors such as security, cost and complexities. The top web development tools on the market today include:

  1. Velo by Wix

  2. Typescript

  3. GitHub

  4. InVision

  5. CodePen

  6. Bootstrap

  7. Webstorm

  8. NetBeans

  9. IntelliJ IDEA

01. Velo by Wix

Velo is a full-stack platform that empowers website developers to quickly build, manage and deploy professional web apps. Use the WYSIWYG Editor to create a UI, then customize for the functionality you need with JavaScript or APIs from Velo or other third-parties like SendGrid, Twilio or Stripe. Built-in tools and integrations help you debug, release and monitor your app as well.

02. Typescript

Microsoft created this open-source programming language, which includes an appealing error-checking feature. If TypeScript detects syntax mistakes, it executes the code and produces compilation issues.

03. GitHub

GitHub stores the code for your program in various programming languages and maintains track of all the modifications developers make. It makes it simple to contribute to open-source projects and helps you create a top-notch document.

04. InVision

The all-in-one collaborative whiteboard, this slick web development tool offers everything you need to bring your people, tools and work together.

05. CodePen

This popular online tool can be used for testing and displaying user-written program code in languages including HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Available in the community edition, CodePen has a free open-source online code editor.

06. Bootstrap

Since its creation in August 2011, Bootstrap offers a front-end-focused open-source framework that developers can use to create webpages and mobile applications. Bootstrap allows developers to create websites and software that work on both iOS and Android.

07. Webstorm

When you want to make your coding life easier, check out Webstorm. This integrated development environment (IDE) for JavaScript allows you to write more reliable and maintainable code. It runs dozens of code inspections while you type, giving you a heads up on any potential problems.

08. NetBeans

Created as so much more than a text editor, NetBeans is an all-in-one development environment, tooling platform and application framework. This web development tool highlights source code syntactically as well as semantically, allow you to easily refactor code with its wide range of handy and powerful features.

09. IntelliJ IDEA

Like WebStorm, this leading IDE makes website development a more productive and enjoyable experience. With IntelliJ IDEA you can write Java code faster with its most advanced editor that searches for possible errors and even provides improvement suggestions. Its deep knowledge of your code offers lightning fast navigation and you can collaborate with other team members without a plug-in.

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