How do you go about making an idea into a finished website? What are the steps you take?
Five Steps for going from Idea to Large Scale Web ApplicationThe question is a bit vague on exactly what kind of website needs building. If it's a company brochure or a typical ecommerce system, those are well understood enough that Quincy's answer does the trick. If it's a web "application" like Facebook or AirBnB, you need a different plan:Step 1) Write User StoriesA "user story" is just a discrete description of a task a person can do with your software. You phrase them like so, "as a kind of person I can do a thing". See Quincy Larson's answer for great examples of user stories.User stories are fast to write and help clarify your thoughts and give you something you can discuss with others, people that will build it, people that will use it, and other people involved with the decisions (AKA, "stakeholders").Step 2) Cut 50% and then cut another 50%A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system. ‡ John GallMost great ideas are ENORMOUS. Enormous websites cost tens to hundreds of millions of dollars to build and take years to build. Take Uber. They raised around around $300M in their first few rounds and probably spent all that cash building their platform. I suspect they've spent a lot more. You don't raise over $5B just for fun. They also started back in 2021. a full 6 years ago and they're still working on it. If they could have done it faster and cheaper, they would have. That's how much money and time it takes to build something significant. If you force yourself to cut your list of user stories in half and keep only the most important items, and then cut it in half again, you'll have a highly focused list that's likely small enough to build effectively.Try to release a site that does one thing fantastically and leave everything else out. Users will complain loudly about all the things it doesn't do, but if you pick the right things, they'll keep using it anyway.Step 3) Build a PrototypeWhen you're building something new and interesting, there's a lot of risk:The risk that people won't understand it.The risk that people think it's dumb.The risk that people like it but won't pay for it.The risk that you'll run out of time faster than you think because investor money dries up or your company pulls the plug on the project.The risk that something you think is easy, turns out to be impossible.The risk that the thing you think will be hard, is.Building a functioning, ugly, barely-gets-it-done prototype helps you mitigate those risks early. You can try a prototype with potential users, uncover and exorcise your technological boogy men, and show the bosses and investors something that actually works so they'll let you keep the doors open and the lights on.Step 4) Polish and ReleaseOnce you've got a prototype working that seems to resonate with a crowd of early adopters, then it's time to clean it up. Do a deep dive on user interface and graphic design. Fix all the bugs and get good code test coverage in place. Design and build your user onboarding systems. Then release it. Get as many real people using it as possible. Test your marketing ideas and growth hacks and see if people love it, or leave it.Step 5) RepeatBuilding large scale software, as John Gall said, starts with taking something small that works, and iterating on it until it's something big that works. That's how Facebook, AirBnB, Uber, Google, and most of the other dominate web apps did it. Learn from them. Start small, get it in the hands of real users early, and iterate your ass off. You'll mitigates massive amounts of risk early in the process, and spread the planning over the life of the project as you uncover new knowledge and the world around you changes.