7 Software Development Process Stages & 7 Models (w/Tips)

Software Dev
November 25, 2022

Designing and developing a website or app is like buying a car from a dealership. For most consumers, their buying process involves picking out a pre-built vehicle in a specific trim, test driving it, agreeing on financing, and driving home. Others have the luxury of custom building their cars with updated performance parts direct from the factory. If a finished app or website is a pre-built car, consider the software development process as custom designing that high-performance hot rod.

Websites and apps are comprised of software solutions. Some are bundled in pre-designed frameworks, while others are packaged nicely in agile libraries that can be fine-tuned for specific user features.

Sometimes to build a website or software that is truly unique, the software development company and project management will have to develop custom software for all the bells and whistles to work as intended. And for the project to be successful, the best programmers activate proven methodology of software development that minimize errors, ensure transparency, and save time.

This is what we're going to discuss in today's Goldfish Code article. In the information below, we'll outline our team's seven phases of software development to help streamline all custom software design projects. We'll provide additional insights into the software development process stages. Finally, we’ll explain our software development life cycle, which keeps projects on task, on budget, and completed on time.

What is the Software Development Process?

A procedure, like any other technical activity or project, helps to keep everything organized, clear, and on time. A software design process is specifically designed to allow a professional software development company to interact honestly with its clients. It ensures that critical information and data are quickly transferred to the design and development team.

This helps our team ensure that custom software solutions are built to activate the correct styling, branding, structure, layout, and architecture of high-performance websites or applications.

Specifically – three general objectives are included in the software design workflow.


This is the initial objective of the software development process. The discovery stage aids the agency and customer understand each other's requirements, scope, and capabilities. It allows stakeholders to ask questions freely so that they may make informed decisions and develop designs before ultimately establishing the requirements analysis, overall project scope's framework or structure.

Conceptional Renderings

Developing visual concepts of the finished website or app is the second stage of practical and effective software design. After collecting data from the client, the software engineering team will begin working with graphic design to create visual examples of the website's appearance, features, and site structure. They can then develop the software that will efficiently turn these visual designs into prototyping applications.

Feedback & Revisions

The final vital component of good software design is feedback. During each incremental stage of the design process, the software development company will provide advice and direction to help make the design phase successful and efficient.

However, clients must offer input to the agency to ensure transparency and openness. This will help to mitigate communication errors which result in quality assurance, fewer mistakes and a high-quality finished web app.

Understanding Software Development Process Stages: 7 Crucial Stages of Software Development

GoldFish Code is a consumer-focused, US-based software design company that has established a strong reputation for engaging, user-friendly web application development and mobile app development. We create responsive websites and apps optimized for performance and scalability. However, a website or application sometimes requires custom-designed software to power unique user functions or bandwidth capacity. This falls well within our scope of business.

We've created a proven design process that helps our team of professional software designers and developers gather information, complete research, and create unique websites and applications. This is what we're going to explore in the information below.

Let's go over each of these seven stages and some steps within each in detail.

Stage #1: Discovery

A clear and transparent conversation is required before any web agency begins a project. This frequently starts with a consultation or discovery meeting, in which the client will inquire about the agency's scope, expertise, and technological concerns while developing its website.

However, the web agency also has an important task: qualifying the client and defining their needs. This is especially critical when determining if customized software development will be required to satisfy the client's needs and desires.

Sometimes high-quality software frameworks built on Java or other programming languages will help to mitigate the software processes. Other situations require customized software architecture to requirement specification that fulfills the software requirements.

Different web agencies have distinct approaches to gathering this critical information. Some use an automated questionnaire that customers fill out before the discovery meeting. Others prefer to send the client a customized list of questions after the first meeting during the development phase.

At Goldfish Code, we embrace a hybrid model - through a combination of both throughout the development cycle. Some of the critical steps accomplished during the discovery planning stage by our software development team include the following below:

Step #1 – Receive Style Guidance from the Client

Every business has its own degree of bespoke branding and marketing identification. Some larger enterprises, particularly those with a firm brand name, have established style rules for their brands that all vendors or subcontractors must follow when offering design services to the company. Sometimes a customized font, color scheme, or types of logo files will require custom software to display them correctly on the client-side or front-end development.

Step #2 – Review Sample Apps and Websites

A lot of the time, a company's inspiration for a new website comes from an unrelated industry. Assume there is a company decision-maker or marketing team that believes one or more websites would be beneficial to their organization. If that's the case, a client should submit samples to the website design firm.

Along with providing URLs, it's suggested to include a bulleted list of essential qualities, such as layout, navigation, color scheme, user functions, notifications, and visual design elements. Like specific colors and fonts, different user functions and animations will require custom-designed software.

Step #3 – Describe UI Features

Design is not limited to colors, fonts, and animation. Quite often, how a customer accesses and navigates the website will require custom software or framework to be developed. During this stage, the client needs to provide their desired UI inclusions.

Stage #2 – Research & Consultation

After discovering what the client wants to be included with their website or app, a professional web firm would begin the process of developing an effective plan by starting the research and planning stages. Because all website and app development necessitates unique customization, software development methodologies must clarify several questions to produce a realistic and agile model.

  • What is the purpose of the website or app, and how will it help people? Is it to educate, sell, amuse, or enable users to access information?
  • Who are the audience members? This data aids in defining layout, structure, and user experience functionality recommendations.
  • Will the business sell goods directly to consumers through the website? This will determine whether eCommerce software is required which will impact cost estimation.
  • Is the website being managed in-house? Where will it be hosted? Is a multilingual translation necessary if the website is in the United States - or is it a global app? These answers can help determine the feasibility of the software development project.

When the design firm has completed its research, it will provide the client with recommendations that include several steps that will eventually lead to a practical development model.

Step #1 – Programming Languages & Framework

The technology employed to create the website's physical structure must be addressed first. This is determined by the feedback and data collected throughout the early phase of research. Use numerous variables, such as bandwidth needs, graphical design, user features, target audience, website functionality, and more.

Step #2 – Design and Content Elements

A website's design isn't complete without content and visual design components. As we mentioned above, some design elements require custom software solutions to bring them to life. The website designer will be able to provide suggestions on graphic design and content that will be informative and engaging. At that point, the right software can be created.

Stage #3 – Create the Plan

As the website design firm offers suggestions for bespoke software, the client will evaluate and provide comments on specific elements. Furthermore, important aspects, such as money constraints, will be discussed between the two parties. Sometimes, the reality of bringing a visual or UI function to life may be too expensive for a client - and will need to be adjusted to stay within budget. These elements will all be hammered out during the next stage, with transparency on both sides taking precedence.

Stage #4 – Initial Software Development

The software design process takes a significant step forward. After all details are agreed upon, the design team will go to work. Graphic designers will create one or two first mock-ups of typical screens on the website - such as a home page and a critical functional page (for example, an about us section or services offered page) - using wireframes.

At this point, they will communicate with the client to ensure everyone is on the same page. When they agree, the project will be handed to developers, who will determine how much software customization is required to bring the concept to reality. This will establish the all-important budget and timeline.

Here is a quick review of the steps in this process.

Step #1

Designers provide mock-ups to clients for review and approval.

Step #2

Developers are consulted to determine how much software customization is required to bring the visual concept into practical application.

Step #3

The client will be presented with an initial budget to approve.

Stage #5 – Feedback and Revision

The next phase of software development is mainly to verify the design elements of the website or application being developed. After the client receives the initial screens and design concepts, they will give constructive criticism. The first round of modifications' primary objective is to ensure that the website design agrees with their vision. Clients should consider the following issues during this stage:

Step #1

Make sure the design has the appearance and feel you want. The primary goal of these first two pages is to nail down the overall look and feel of the website. Before proceeding, make sure the design firm gets it right.

Step #2

Verify that the colors and fonts comply with your branding guidelines (if applicable).

Step #3

Examine the user features. Is the primary website design built with buttons and other user-friendly elements within your customer's comfort zone?

Step #4

Is the primary pages' content comprehensive enough to communicate your company's narrative or persuade consumers to choose your brand?

Goldfish Code delivers all designs in a clickable format with Adobe XD hotspots that may be clicked to simulate navigating from one screen to the next and using the software.

Stage #6 – Continued Mock-Ups till Conclusion

The website design firm will develop additional mock-ups of customized pages after the client provides feedback on the initial page layout components and approves modifications. This will include all pages specified in the site map and agreed to by the client.

Typically, the web agency will deliver additional mock-ups in batches of five - or in parts of the website, such as eCommerce, blogs, service pages, and more. This procedure will continue after receiving client comments on designs and corrections, and the project will finally be approved.

Suppose any of these changes results in software development needs. In that case, that will be factored into the final budget - to receive final approval of the development method.

Stage #7 – The Final Approval and Transition to Development

At this point in the software development process, the design phase ends. This is when the project is handed to the DevOps team - to create the customized software solutions that will comprise the tools, languages, libraries, and frameworks used to power the website or app on the client and server sides.

As they wrap up the software development, begin unit testing of all tools to ensure they are compatible, reliable, bug-free, and scalable. At this point, the entire project can head into the development and testing phase that follows website development and app development projects.

How to Pick the Right Software Product Development Process for Your Needs

The most common mistakes clients and web design firms make often occur in the discovery phase. This is often due to a lack of transparency or a fear of the design agency of losing the project by 'scaring a client away' due to the cost of custom software to accomplish specific tasks requested by the client.

To avoid this situation, we've created this list of three easy tips every client should follow to ensure that you pick the right software development agency to build your custom-designed website or application.

Tip #1 – Plan Before You Shop for Agencies

Before you contact any web or software design company, make a detailed list of the project you need to have completed. Write down every function, feature, tool, and platform, if it's a website or app. This way, when you consult with a developer, they won't be surprised by your scope of work.

Tip #2 – Consider Scalability

The second tip is to list must-have items and some that you can scale into the future. This likewise will provide the software design team with variables they can include in developing the software to provide a seamless upgrade when the time is near. If you’re in need of rapid application development in order to meet timeline restrictions, make sure to be clear about this with the systems development team.

Tip #3 – Pick the Agency that Can Do It All

We talked about building that custom car in the opening paragraph. Some dealerships only sell factory-built cars. Others allow you to customize them with aftermarket performance parts, install them, test the vehicle, and deliver the reliable car of your dreams.

This is the type of software development company you should hire. Make sure they can create the custom software risk assessment, build the software and the finished website or app, have qualified testers, and handle the routine maintenance to keep it running strong for years. They should follow a proven methodology, but have the flexibility to customize process models to fit your specific needs.

Software Development Process at Goldfish Code

Suppose you like what you've read so far; congratulations. In that case, it's a beautiful indication of the software design approach we at Goldfish Code embrace. Effective communication between all parties ensures that your web design process runs smoothly.

To ensure that your app or website is functional and appealing, you should schedule an initial consultation or a face-to-face/virtual meeting with the firm. During your conversation with the Goldfish Code team, we'll go through each stage of the design process and why we rely on your feedback and communication to ensure we're all on the same page.

Our team will create mock-ups and wireframes to put your vision on paper. Once you agree on the initial design, look, automation and functionality, and fits your business needs, our developers, will determine what software customization is required to bring your vision into reality. We will continue to revise the plan until everyone agrees.

Final Points on Software Development Process Stages

Many software design projects fail due to miscommunication lapses, overpromising and underdelivering, or simply not clarifying specific details before starting the project. Attempting to hire multiple contractors often leads to delays, miscommunication, and budgetary nightmares.

Keep these important items top of mind when choosing the best software-developing company that can complete extreme programming of customized software solutions through agile processes.

  • Always be open and transparent with any software design company about your concerns.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for references, examples of similar projects and modules, and detailed specifics about their design process.
  • Make sure you feel 100 percent comfortable with their website design, development, and deployment process.

Whether you’re creating websites for startups or proven enterprise-level corporations, if you're looking for a proven website design company in the United States that follows a proven software development process and can mitigate common problems – Goldfish Code is the solution. Contact us today.