Website lifecycle

In developing a website there are six key stages, beginning with the investigation of the project where the business case is established through to decommissioning when the website is retired.

These stages are not always sequential. For example, many websites are never decommissioned but are instead redeveloped (many agency corporate websites are seen as permanent and will be required for as long as the agency exists).

During each of the stages of the lifecycle, agencies should be aware of the need to consolidate content and websites. Consolidation can improve the user experience by simplifying resource discovery while also lowering development and maintenance costs.

How do I?


This investigation should consider the whole internet portfolio of the agency, and not just the proposed website, so that any opportunities for consolidation are considered in context.

Website Lifecycle

The Website Lifecycle is separated into six stages. The lifecycle starts with investigate, then through the stages 1 – plan, 2 – design, build and test, 3 – operate, maintain and evaluate. The optional stage, 4 – redevelop, leads back to the planning stage. The lifecycle finishes with decommission.


When planning a website you should:

  • understand your audience and their needs now and into the future
  • clearly define the website’s purpose
  • map the topics and content that you would like to cover
  • decide what you want to call the website
  • check that the domain name is available, and register it
  • get a feel for what other similar sites have done by doing a competitor analysis.

Design, build and test

In this stage the structure of the website is developed built and tested with users and the agency stakeholders. The website is then launched and goes live.

Operate, maintain and evaluate

In this stage, the website is maintained and monitored regularly for possible improvements. This involves keeping everything up to date and reporting on performance, to ensure that the website is a success. One element of the maintenance plan should be periodic evaluation of the website.  This evaluation might lead to a decision to redevelop or decommission it.

Also within this stage is a requirement to archive material as it is no longer required.

If a website evaluation has led to consolidation of content or sites, or it has been determined there is no further requirement for the site, it will need to be consolidated and / or closed.

Last Reviewed: 2012-09-04