What to Expect When Building a New Website

when we building a new site
Austin Long
April 2024
What to Expect When Building a New Website

Creating a new online site is not a small endeavor. Every one of the clients we've worked with approaches the process thoughtfully and thoroughly. There is a budget for the site build, a target on when it should be launched, and a list of features that are needed. However, there is typically one thing our clients don't have... experience going through the process of building a new E-Commerce site. Fortunately, our team has had fantastic success walking clients through this process and delivering a shiny new E-Comm site. Below are some things you can expect if you are considering starting the process of building a new site.

High-Level Phases of a Project

  • Discovery
    • Where all of the feature requirements are gathered and business objectives discussed throughout a weeklong workshop
  • Design
    • Where the design team will mock up the entire site using Figma for client approval
  • Backend and Frontend Development
    • Where developers build the various agreed upon features.
  • Quality Assurance (QA) testing
    • Where the various features are tested
  • User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
    • Where the client tests the final product in a test environment before launch
  • Site Launch
  • Warranty 

Detailed Documentation

Given that we are building things in the digital realm, words, pictures, and diagrams are the only way to make sure there is alignment on how the site should work. Every site build project will start with documenting all of the pages that are needed as well as the features that should be on those pages. The critical piece to this documentation is that there should never be any ambiguity. There should never be any assumptions that aren't listed. The documentation can feel excessive and pedantic. However, given that the sky is the limit on functionality (especially with platforms like Adobe Commerce) this detailed documentation is critical for project success. It is what provides the alignment between the client team and the development team. Having clear documentation on the functionality of the site is a significant factor in whether the project is a success or not. 

For those who are not familiar with the software development life cycle, documentation is usually captured in User Stories and Use Cases. The User Stories detail exactly what should happen and how the client knows when that criteria have been met (ie. Acceptance Criteria). Also, if multiple systems have to be integrated, such as an Adobe site and an ERP system, there will be flow diagrams detailing how the systems will be interacting. This level of documentation should be expected and if you aren't getting it in your project, that should be a red flag against your development team.

Full Transparency

Based on your investment into a new site, you will have very specific goals. Your development team is working for you to accomplish those goals. With that in mind, if you aren't getting full transparency, there is an issue. The level of transparency you should expect involves regular weekly meetings with key members of your dev team (project manager, solutions architect, developer, etc). This should involve a timeline with clear expectations for when you will receive items as well as when you are expected to deliver items to the development team. For instance, you should be told when a specific license or account must be delivered to the dev team or when you will be able to get into the site and start testing it. Regular demos of the site are another piece that you should expect. Given the site is being built, there will be unfinished pieces. But as parts are completed, you should expect your development team to showcase the progress. 

It's not uncommon for new project scope to be added to a project after it starts. You should be alerted to the implications of these additions. There is almost always an increase in the project cost and an impact on the timeline. Occasionally clients remove a feature after the project starts. You should be walked through the implication or potentially dependent features that will be affected such that you are empowered to make an informed decision. 

New Scope

Commonly, new features get added to the project after it gets started. This isn't a given, it's not a universal truism. However, it has happened in the vast majority of projects we've worked on. This is often due to the client's imagination getting kickstarted once they see things start coming together. This isn't a bad thing! You are building a new site and you need to make it do what you need. Your development team should give full clarity on the implication for adding the feature and help guide you through what is the most important goal of the project (ie. is launching fast more important? Or having the new functionality that came up?). It's not always an easy choice. But this should be something you keep in mind as you embark on your new project - what is more important? Timeline? Cost? or Features?

Forgettable but Crucial Data

The data (product, customer, company, etc) on your site is not something most people think about. However, it is a crucial part of the success of the site. A general rule of thumb is bad data in will result in bad data out. Any development agency building a new site should ask a lot of questions about your data. They also should have a process for cleaning up and organizing your data to optimize the site's navigability. Going through these data exercises can be laborious (for both the dev team and the client), but it mustn't be skipped. Some of the data-related tasks lay solely on the client. The client has to fill out data templates. When you get to this portion of your project, make sure you have adequate availability for your team members to assist.

Post Launch

Building a new site is only one piece of the journey. The next step of the journey is often overlooked by clients. That step is maintenance or support for the new site. Anything worth doing is worth maintaining. An E-Commerce site is no exception and will require maintenance and support. Some of this maintenance is in the form of Adobe Commerce upgrades which ensures your site is on the latest version of security patches. Upgrades also include new functionality tied to the base Adobe Commerce code. Your site will undoubtedly need various fixes throughout its life given that the software world is constantly changing, and your needs for features will undoubtedly shift as well. For this, we offer support contracts to make sure your E-Comm investment is covered. Make sure you are keeping post-launch support in mind as you budget for the future.


In conclusion, embarking on the journey of creating a new E-Commerce website is a meticulous process that demands careful planning and execution. From the initial phases of discovery and documentation to the transparency and collaboration required throughout development, each step plays a crucial role in the success of the project. As clients, understanding the high-level phases, embracing comprehensive documentation, understanding what transparency and guidance look like, managing new scope changes effectively, prioritizing data management, and planning for post-launch maintenance are key to achieving long-term success with your E-Commerce investment. By partnering with a knowledgeable and experienced team, you can navigate these complexities with confidence and ensure your E-Commerce venture thrives well beyond its launch. Our team here is highly process-driven. We have a process well documented for each of these steps to keep you informed so you can make the best decisions for your project.