10 Sep The Comprehensive Guide to the Web Design Process
In an era where having a website is just as important to a business as having a physical office of operations, clients see value in understanding the web design process and are starting to learn to make their investment count when it comes to building their space on the Internet. They no longer see a website as something that needs to be built for the sake of having something online. They see it as an extension of their physical offices – another way of sharing their brand and their passion to a wider audience.
Many clients approach website building with much apprehension mostly due to the fact that they usually don’t know how or where to get started with this project. Understanding the web design process will help put their minds at ease. Here at Cruise Control Marketing, we like to keep things organized to make sure that our clients are on top of every stage of their website design and development project. Sure, our designers and developers spend many sleepless nights trying to come up with winning solutions to every web development puzzle and there may or may not be a few of them running around like headless chickens when a deadline looms near but clients don’t need to see that. Here’s a website development process we have developed over time to put some form of structure to the crazy.
Kick Off Meeting
Every website project starts with the kick-off meeting to identify the scope and manage expectations. It is important that everyone involved is on the same page to ensure that the web design and development process goes smoothly. During the kickoff meeting, we agree to deadlines, key milestones, and deliverables and identify the requirements that clients may have in regards to the project.
Brand Discovery and Goal Setting
Web designers need to research the brand and the industry it’s in to get a better sense of what kind of website would be appropriate for the client. We scope out competitors, learn more about the brand’s target market and go through a process of discovery with the client. As websites are considered online brand representatives, it is important that the site design is in line with the client’s goals and objectives.
At this stage, the design and development team sets out to understand the client’s goals and objectives. Some clients do not have a clear cut idea as to why they want to build a website – they just know that they need it. This stage is a good opportunity for the client to identify what they expect to gain from the website and the key performance indicators that need to be fulfilled to deem this part of their digital marketing strategy a success.
The client should have clear-cut objectives for his or her website at the end of this stage because every detail – color, typography, graphics and content that goes into the site – is designed towards the fulfillment of these objectives.
Content planning and creation is the next phase of the web design process. Designers will start creating the navigational structure of the website and, together with the client, decide what type of content will go on which page. Depending on the client’s requirements, content creation can include copywriting or editing the content that their previous site has if any. For clients with an existing website, content creation starts with a content audit to identify the assets that the company currently has in relation to its website and to remove outdated material.
At this point, it is important that the client has a good idea of what kind of content he or she wants to see on his or her website. The overall tone of the copy should complement the brand’s digital marketing goals.
While the content is being created, designers can also start planning the navigational structure of the website. Designers start with a sitemap. In website design, a sitemap is the architectural structure of the site. Think of it like building a house. Engineers build the structure based on a blueprint.
Once the sitemap is finalized, designers will start creating the wireframe or mockup of the website. Designers create a wireframe to make it easy to identify content and navigation gaps. It also gives clients an idea as to how the website will look once it’s completed. After the clients sign off on the wireframe, the actual design and development start.
Design and Prototype
At this stage of the web design process, designers start rolling up the sleeves and get to work at building the website itself. They will start playing around with fonts, colors, graphics, and images to create the site according to the client’s specifications. As this concerns the aesthetics and general look and feel of their website, clients would typically appreciate regular updates at this point. Approvals have to be obtained before setting anything in stone.
Everything up to this point is just a pretty model of what the website is going to look like once it has been coded. When the client signs off on the design based on the prototype, everything will be handed over to the web developer.
Web Development and Testing
We already covered the difference between a web developer and web designer in a previous post but just as a review, the designer is concerned with the aesthetic and the user experience while web developers work on the backend to bring the website design to life.
The web developer’s work starts after all the design elements and website content has been finalized. At this point in the web design process, the client will have to sit back and wait until the site is all built and ready for testing.
The website goes through a few rounds of testing and quality control – with the development team and the client’s side before it goes live. During testing, details are fine-tuned, navigation gaps are identified and rectified. The objective is to simulate how a user would browse through the website and interact with the content.
And finally, when all passes the quality checks and extensive user assistance testing, the website goes live. And another cycle of work begins, this time, to assess if all the site’s marketing goals are being met. The work of the web designer and the digital marketer doesn’t end once the site is launched. The site is like a living organism – it needs to evolve and adapt to suit the needs of its audience. It’s the digital marketing team’s job to make sure it keeps up with the changes in its niche.