The website design process and the website design industry is often a vastly misunderstood. This is mostly because of each designer whether an agency or freelancer often have a different process on how they deal with a client.
There are always a few common items on each list but huge variations in how each of those steps is completed. There are a few things that are key to the successful completion of any great website. I have written this article to try to clear up a few things that many of our clients often don’t understand.
So What Things Does A Website Design Process Contain?
As we discussed above the process differs from designer to designer. We look at the process as being more about communication and efficiency than anything else. Generally, a good website design process should look at the following items in detail.
- The aims and objectives of the client.
- The definition of the work to be completed. (The Scope)
- Wireframes and sitemap creation.
- Content collection and creation.
- Visual Design.
- Site Development.
- Site Testing.
- Site Launch.
- Ongoing Maintenance / Support.
These key points should be part of any winning formula for a successful website design process.
By following such a process we find that all parties involved get a great opportunity to communicate so that the best end product can be produced.
Let us have a look at these 9 steps from our perspective and how Conceptual Creative create the websites that our clients desire.
Aims And Objectives Of The Client.
In this section, our team works with the client to discover the reason for any work being carried out or completed. This generally happens during either a face to face meeting or video link up. During this phase, we would ask a series of carefully crafted questions. These questions help us to identify the main reasons for the new or rebuilt website. We then drill further down into those reasons and also gather a range of information that will help us understand your aspirations and aims.
From the information gathered we can then begin to formulate a plan for your project. This formulation then leads us to “The Scope”
The Definition Of The Work To Be Completed. (The Scope)
Now that we have drilled down into your needs and desires for the project we get to work defining the scope of the project. This phase is all about defining the parameters of the project in plain English so that all parties know exactly what will happen moving forward.
The scope generally covers a range of information such as what pages the site will have, what features the site will have, what the benefits of the suggested scope items are, and finally the timeline and investment required to complete the project.
Once the scope is well defined a proposal is sent to the client with full details for approval to proceed. A few other administrative tasks would also be undertaken at this stage. Once approved to move forward, we would then move into the next stage of wireframe and sitemap creation.
Wireframe And Sitemap Creation.
This phase is where we start to get creative and is part of the consultation process. Firstly we look at creating an overview and sitemap for your project. This becomes our blueprint for page connections and navigational layout.
Additionally, during this phase, we look at creating wireframe layouts (A wireframe is a visual representation of your site constructed utilising outlines and placeholders.) for those pages. This allows us to effectively communicate how the page layout will look for each individual page on the site.
Once we have created these items we then discuss them with the client in depth. This discussion helps the client to understand the content requirements for each page. Once the client is empowered with this knowledge they are free to move onto the next phase of the project, content collection and creation.
Content Collection And Creation.
This phase of the website design process is one of the most important and often misunderstood. Often business owners assume that it is the website designers job to create the content but this is where many projects have gone pear-shaped. As a website designer for over 15 years, the biggest holdup on any project is content. 99% of the time this hold up can be attributed to the client not creating their own content.
You see as a website designer we are great at writing content about our industry but we don’t know boats. We always advise our clients that they should participate in creating the content for their website project. We encourage this because as a business owner you know your business, your industry and your ideal client far better than we ever will.
During this phase, it is typical to work with the client to either create the content for their website or to assist them to have it created. We also work with the client to collect any additional resources that may already exist. Once all the content text, audio, video, and images are created and collected it is time to move onto the visual design stage of the project.
This phase is where the client often starts to see things coming together and their ideas and concepts are created visually. From a designer perspective, this is the part of the process where we take the wireframes and relevant content items we have collected and turn them into a visual representation of the final product.
The outcome of this phase is the opportunity to fine-tune any further layout and visual items before committing to the build process. This is an important part of the overall process as it establishes the final part of the blueprint ahead of the site development stage.
The site development phase is where you get to take a hard-earned break while the design and development team bring your project to life. This phase is often one of the longest phases of the project and can last anywhere from a week on small projects to several months on larger projects.
This phase is about taking the approved and finalised design concepts and combining it with your content. The final outcome of this phase is a fully working prototype website that can be used to enter the site testing phase.
Your design and development team have completed the first working prototype of your project as part of the website design process. Now it’s your turn to check the site and provide any feedback and minor changes to the design. Usually, most designers will allow for up to 3 rounds of minor changes. A common item that happens here is that the client remembers something they wanted that isn’t on the website.
We understand that sometimes you forget things but in most cases, if it isn’t outlined in “The Scope” it generally won’t be added. A good scope should always contain what happens in the event of “out of scope” requests. This is usually to protect both the client and the developer from the project and budget variances. We always suggest that a client reach out as soon as possible if they feel that something additional needs to be added.
Once all of the final tweaks and adjustments have been made its time to launch the website.
It’s time to launch your new or updated website and enjoy the fruits of your hard work. During this phase, it is typical for your designer/developer to liaise with your hosting provider to move the final product to your hosting account. Just remember to make sure your website is moved at a convenient time for you. We generally move websites for our clients during off-peak times for their business.
Now that your site is live it is time to move onto the next stage of the process which is ongoing maintenance and support.
Ongoing Maintenance And Support.
Your new website is live and all going well is functioning perfectly. Should the unlikely event of a breakage or failure on your website it is important to know where you stand for maintenance and support. This section varies wildly across the industry and whilst I can’t give you a “standard” I can outline how it works from our perspective.
Support is important to a website owner after all a website is a significant investment in your business future. We generally offer free phone support for the first 12 months and full maintenance protection against defects in our initial build for the first 3 months (a warranty of sorts).
For business owners who really want to protect their investment, we offer paid ongoing maintenance plans with no lock-in contracts and affordable monthly fees. These great plans provide you with peace of mind that your website investment is performing optimally at all times.
I hope that this article has helped you to understand the website design process a little better. If you have any questions please reach out to us for answers or join our free website help group on facebook. This great group is a non-judgemental safe space for business owners to ask questions and get assistance from industry specialists.
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Martin is an experienced WordPress website consultant and lead generation specialist for small business. With over 20 years of experience in the website design and development industry, his experience leads to your online business success. Martin founded Conceptual Creative to assist Australian business owners to succeed online through quality online platforms, effective lead generation, and educational content.