Planning carefully and implementing using a tried and tested process is critical to the success of our website projects.
In this post we’ll be going over the web design process that most clients will experience when hiring a professional agency to handle their project. It’s really important to us here at Design & Online Promotions that our clients have a level of transparency and understanding with how our work is conducted.
1. Request website proposal
This is the part where you tell us what you’re looking to achieve with your website and marketing. Your brief may be based on sample sites, a website you already have and want to improve or based on an idea you want to bring to life.
From there, we gather information based on your requirements to create the proposal. The proposal differs a lot between projects, but generally speaking, includes these sections:
- What We Offer.
- Past Work, Reviews & References.
- Plan and Process (what we’re going over in this post).
- Project Overview.
- Goals for the new website.
- What should be improved/kept?
- Sitemap – This is used to quantify the amount of work (quantified by the number of templates and pages/migration requirements).
- Hosting suggestions/requirements.
- Estimate – Based on the amount of work as specified in the project overview.
- Additional items – Any additional items you requested or we may suggest such as:
– Additional Graphic Design work.
Once you’re happy with the proposal we prepare an agreement and generate the deposit invoice. Once the deposit has been transferred we start the project. Exciting!
2. Creative discovery and brief
With the proposal in hand, we write a brief to note the challenges you’ve previously faced with the existing website. There are many factors to take into consideration and discuss at this point. The site’s design may be lacking, content old and irrelevant to your business today, or underperforming when it comes to search engine ranking. If you don’t have an existing website, we talk about the audience you’d like to target and how to be competitive with the new site.
The critical part of this consultation process is understanding who will be buying your services or products. For example, if your clients are mostly female, we don’t want to create a brand that doesn’t cater to your main audience. That said, if your audience is shifting, or your business is evolving, we can create a design and promotional strategy to suit your needs.
Certain things to consider are:
Purpose – What is the purpose of the website? Do you want to provide useful information, promote a service, sell a product?
Goals – What do you hope to accomplish by building this website? Two of the more common goals are either to generate money or share information.
Target Audience – Is there a specific group of people that will help you reach your goals? It’s helpful to picture the ‘ideal’ person you want to visit your website. Consider their sex, age, or interests as this will later help determine the best design style for your site.
Content – What kind of information will the target audience be searching for online and looking for on your site? Are they looking for specific information, a particular product or service, online ordering?
The goal of the initial brief is for us to understand your users, target audience, competitors, goals and site structure (how users will navigate your site). Once you feel that we understand those core items, we’ll move onto the next phase. This is where we go from writing ideas down to creating visuals for our ideas.
3. Discussion and brainstorm
Using the information gathered, it’s time to put together a plan for your new website. This is the stage where a sitemap is developed. A site map helps to plan out each section and helps determine the content pages required. We’ll also create a visual mood board to match your audience and create a strategy to help reach each of your goals.
The mood board will contain images from similar businesses, other websites and ideas which are all relevant to solving your visual personality. We’ll discuss with you the ideas behind each task so you can understand how the goals will be met.
Once we’ve all agreed on the goals/issues around the visuals we’ll then move onto the design phase – this is where our creative ideas come together!
4. Design creatively
The developmental stage is the point where the website itself is created. This is typically done by first developing the home page, followed by a “shell” for the interior information pages. The shell serves as a template for the content pages of your site, as it contains the main navigational structure for the website. Once the shell has been created, we will collect your content and distribute it throughout the site design. If you’re struggling to write good text copy yourself or simply don’t want the hassle, then take advantage of our professional Content Writing service.
The target audience is one of the key factors also taken into consideration at this point. A site aimed at teenagers, for example, will look much different aesthetically than one meant for a financial business. A well-designed logo and branding colour palette can help strengthen the identity of your company and help you stand out from competitors.
Once we have a design visual in place we will show you the concept online so you can get a feel for your new site. Together, we go through the design to make sure that the elements and their placement make sense. There needs to be a visual hierarchy that guides the user down the page and gives them a clear indication as to what we want them to do. Is it to contact your business, to learn more about a service, or maybe to register for a special event?
In this phase, communication is crucial to ensure that the final website will match your needs and taste. We want to hear your feedback and exchange ideas until you arrive at the final design for your website. Once we’re happy with the direction and have made sure everything is in place, we schedule a meeting with you to officially present the design to you, the client. We walk you through the design to explain the layout and why things are placed where they are and given particular eminence.
Another reason this meeting is beneficial is that we start with a planning phase which can be hard to visualise how things will work or function. Initial feedback is always welcome during this conversation, and we encourage our clients to take a few days on the concept before providing a list of changes or questions.
5. Development, testing and staging
Most websites we create today are built on the backbone of a Content Management System. We love to work with and highly recommend WordPress to ensure future compatibility and flexibility. WordPress is extremely adaptable and within budget for most clients. Its admin interface is also relatively easy to use for clients when managing small updates and edits if they wish to do so themselves.
If you’re not comfortable with managing your site or don’t have time, don’t worry as we are always on hand to make any edits for you. We’re just an email or phone call away and most amends are carried out within the hour so you can rest assured your content is kept up to date.
Technology we use
Here are some technical things we ensure that we use/do during the development of a website:
- Mobile Responsive.
- HTML5/CSS3 and Animations/Transitions.
- SASS and Bootstrap.
- Content Management System (WordPress, Umbraco, Drupal, Magento, Joomla, Opencart).
- Source/Version Control.
- Browser Testing (up from IE10+).
- Speed Testing (site load times).
Digital technology improves and changes over time, so we make sure that what we build is up to current standards, if not a little forward.
Once we’re 100% satisfied with the build, we’ll show you the site fully functioning on our staging server. Once we have all your content and imagery in place we’ll move onto the next phase – preparing for launch!
6. Deployment, optimisation and SEO
At this point, we will attend to the final details and test your website to ensure it works flawlessly across a multitude of browsers and devices. We will test things such as the functionality of forms or other scripts, as well as testing for last minute compatibility issues (viewing differences between different web browsers), ensuring that your website is optimised to be viewed properly in the most recent browser versions.
Once you’ve given your final approval, it is time to deliver the site to the World Wide Web! We have our own dedicated server so if you host with us you’ll be running your site through a fast and secure network based here in the UK. Once your hosting account has been set up, and your website uploaded to the server, the site will be put through one last pre-launch check. This is just precautionary, to confirm that all files have been uploaded correctly and that the site is working perfectly.
Other final details include checking and updating any plugin installation (for WordPress or other CMS driven websites and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). SEO is the optimisation of your website with elements such as title, description and keyword tags which help your website achieve higher rankings in the search engines.
There are a lot of on-site and off-site details involved in optimising your website for the search engines. This is a very important step because even though you now have a website, you need to make sure that people can find it!
Job done! ???
After the web design process, we’ve outlined here, you might think the job is done. In fact, you could say this is where the real work begins. Because for a website to launch successfully and thrive for years to come, it’ll need a combination of enthusiastic promotion, painstaking analysis, and regular iteration. Our aim after site launch is to get to work with creating a marketing strategy, customised to help your website be the success it deserves.
We dedicate ourselves to providing solutions that will best balance our client’s budget and visions. We don’t look to push the most expensive solution but rather the solution that is best.
Like the way we work? To start the process for your new website or site re-design request a proposal or call 0800 689 0253 for a friendly informal chat.