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How Great Agencies Build Websites

A Step By Step Guide for Successful Web Development

by maiya
published on March 14, 2018
White mug filled with coffee. The text on the mug reads

What is the process for building a website?

We get this question all the time! If you don’t work in web design and development, the process of creating a website can seem daunting. What happens when you call an agency? How long does it usually take to get a site up and running? How much creative control will you have? Are you expected to know the difference between CSS and HTML? What is WordPress, anyway?

Here’s the thing: A great agency will walk you through it, step by step. Here at Mangrove, we’ve been doing this for nearly a decade and we’ve got it down to an art. Our clients will tell you that our process is engaging and even enjoyable, but keep in mind that building a website involves some dedication from all parties involved. With various moving pieces, deadlines and talented people involved, it’s our job to ensure that everything is in sync and moving on schedule. After all, this is your business we’re talking about, and we want to get it right.

This post lays out exactly how we’ll go about building your website. And to be honest, this is how most good agencies do it. So whether or not you choose to hire Mangrove, this is the process you can expect from a quality web design and development agency.

Step 1: Proposal

For most people, the first step in building a website is to reach out to a web development company like us. If you connect to us here at Mangrove, the first thing we’ll do is set up a meeting so we can hear all about what you’re hoping to do. During this call, you’ll do most of the talking, and we’ll do most of the listening. We want to hear all about your business, your goals, and your dreams — and how your website fits in.

Once we have a good idea of what you’re looking for, we’ll put together a detailed, custom proposal that lays out what we’d like to create for you, how long we think it will take, and how much it will cost. If you like it, great! We’ll both sign the on the bottom line and move on to Step 2. If we don’t think we’re the right team for the job, or if we can’t work within your budget or meet your technical requirements, then we’ll do our best to refer you to someone who can help you out.

Step 2: Kickoff

This is when we start digging in! Most agencies will ask you to fill in an intake form that walks you through a list of specific questions about your project, ranging from simple things like the number of pages to more nuanced subjects like your ideal aesthetic.

At Mangrove, we’ll have you fill out the form and then we’ll follow it up with a kickoff meeting. All the major players will be there to weigh in and begin the project together in a cohesive direction: our project manager, the lead designer and the lead developer. If we’re doing any copywriting for your site, the content strategist will likely be there, too. We’ll all go over the intake information together to clarify and add any additional information that arises. Then we’ll get to work.

Phase 3: Content and Design

At this point, you’ll start to see some real progress. The first thing most good content strategists do is put together a content overview, then collaborate with the designers to create a wireframe, showing how the site will be structured and capturing any major functionality components. Think of the wireframe like the architectural drawings for a new home — you can see the overall structure, and you can start to envision how the space will work.

Based on our conversations and your preferences, we’ll start working with colors, fonts, any illustrations, and overall web design. When the rough draft of design is ready, we’ll show it to you and get your feedback, and then we’ll go back to work.

While our designers are hard at work, you’ll be working on the words that will go on your site. You might be doing this yourself, or working with an in-house writer at your company, or maybe you’ll be working with a content specialist. Either way, now is the time to get the writing portion well on its way.

Step 4: Development

Once you’ve given the design a thumbs up, the developers will start building. What’s the difference between a designer and a developer? Imagine that you’ve got your architectural drawings done, and you have a detailed idea of what your new house will look like. Now the construction crews are coming in to start putting shovels in the ground.

Website development can take anywhere from four to 16 weeks, depending on how big and complex your site is. Our development team handles everything from the foundational templates and content types to finishing work like colors and fonts. All our sites are completely responsive, which means they’ll look great on your phone, your tablet and your desktop. The developers will also curate a custom back-end dashboard, so you can easily update and edit your site’s content when we’re done.

Oh, and remember all that writing you were doing back in Step 3? We’re going to need that now! While there will still be opportunities to fine-tune the wording on your pages, it’s always best when our developers have relatively final copy to work with.

Step 5: Training

A few weeks before the site launches, we’ll provide you with a site manual and a comprehensive training session that will give you the tools you need to maintain your site. For example, we’ll show you how to add and edit the words and images on your pages, just in case you want to change things down the road.

We’ll also gather some more feedback and make sure we’re delivering front-end and back-end experiences that you’re happy with. As you add or change the content on your website, we’ll focus on streamlining the site and fixing any bugs so that the site works perfectly. By the time we launch, everything will look, read, and perform the way you want it to.

Phase 5: Launch!

Once you give the final approval, we’ll run through our launch checklist and your site will go live. Our developers will install analytics, so you can see how your site is performing, and we’ll re-submit your site to Google, too, which will help people search and find you faster. Don’t worry, we’ll manage this entire process from start to finish, and our developers will be on-hand to make sure everything goes smoothly on launch day.

Phase 6: Maintenance and Follow Up

After we launch your site, you’ll have the option of signing up for one of our monthly maintenance programs (available to existing clients only). We’ll also check in on your site to ensure everything is working properly post-launch.

Questions? Reach out to and let us know what you’re thinking about!

A Certified B Corp, Mangrove is a woman-owned website design and development company with a diverse, talented team distributed around the globe. We’ve been building websites since 2009 that amplify the work of change-making organizations and increase the competitive power of businesses owned by historically marginalized people.

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