There are so many different tools on the market today for agencies and freelancers alike to utilize for their web step by step web design processes. On one hand, a lot of agencies tend to just focus on how “pretty” a design is. Which, in our opinion, is sort of the opposite of what they should actually be doing.
Yes – part of your web design process for 2018 should help revamp your client’s current site, but more importantly, it should be able to solve their business goals as well. Your client’s target audience should be able to easily absorb the content on your client’s website, and the aesthetics and content should also be able to pull their audience in.
Our 8 Step Web Design Process For 2018
Without further ado, lets go over our 8 step web design process for 2018.
1. Identifying Design Goals
This is arguably the most important step when it comes to any web design process. During this first stage, the agency needs to determine the client’s website end goal(s). Often times, there could be more than one goal. It’s imperative to ask the client exactly what they expect out of their website in terms of functionality, aesthetics – but also, what they expect in terms of a return of investment that their new web design will give them.
Some sample questions you could use for your clients:
- Who is this new website targeting?
- What does their audience expect to do or find?
- Is the main goal of this website to inform, sell, or simply amuse?
- What websites does the client like, in terms of aesthetics and functionality wherein you can draw inspiration from?
- What does the client not like in a website? What do they find annoying or cumbersome?
- How do they expect to achieve their goals?
These questions need clearly defined answers in order for the web design process to be a success. Often times, you may find that the client realizes part way through that they may have other goals that the web design could offer, that they have never even thought of before. This is great, as it gets the client’s gears turning in their heads.
Making sure that you and the client both understand and identify goals early upfront, greatly increases the success of the web design project. Not to mention, it’s a great starting point in your web design process.
2. Sketching Out Scope Definition
A lot of web design agencies simply don’t hash out what’s called a “project scope“. In a nutshell, project scope identifies exactly what tasks you will be completing for the client. For example:
- Mobile-friendly web design
- Responsive web development
- Shopping cart functionality
This clearly defined scope helps maintain the project guidelines and gives both yourself and the client clear-cut expectations of what you both can expect from the project.
One thing that can (and often does) happen is something called, “scope creep“. Clients can and will have some amazing ideas of how to improve their website. However, it’s imperative that if the client wants something (for example, adding membership functionality) added to their website, you must communicate with them that what they want is not within the original project scope. If you do not do that, a couple things may happen:
- Project delays
- You will end up putting in more hours, essentially working for free
- Mis-managed client expectations
Make sure that your project scope is clearly defined at the beginning of any project, as part of your main contract and there shouldn’t be any issues moving forward with your client.
3. Produce The Sitemap And Wire-frame
A clearly defined web design sitemap and wire-frame will clearly demonstrate to both yourself and the client how the website will flow. It explains the relationship between all elements within the website, and how your client’s users will navigate throughout it.
Think of a web design sitemap as a blueprint for your website, and the web design wire-frame to be a guide of how your web design will actually look. The wire-frame won’t contain any finalized design elements, it will simply act as a guide for how your web design will ultimately look.
A few tools to consider for wire-framing a website:
- Pencil and paper (our favourite)
4. Designing The Website
This is where the fun part begins. Whenever we design a website for our clients, we go right back to the drawing board – drawing from the steps above in our process.
Before a single pixel is created, we extract the answers from our client meetings above. We essentially translate their business goals, into their new web design. Apart from this, the client’s new web design will be shaped by using existing branding elements such as colour choices and other elements.
Choosing strong imagery that engages and pulls the client’s target audience in is also extremely important. Content, which is also a major foundation of converting users on any website, is taken into account during this stage as well.
Once the design is complete on our end, we send it over to the client for review.
- Images are important
- Content to pull an audience in, is equally as important
- Branding (colour scheme, logo, etc) needs to be included. Offline and online brand consistency is key.
- Accomplishing business goals through the design is imperative
Tools to design a website:
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe Illustrator
5. Developing The Website
Once the web design has been completed and approved by the client, it’s time to hop into actually developing out the website. We make sure that it’s semantically built and is mobile, tablet, laptop and desktop-friendly.
At Infused, we don’t use pre-made templates that you can buy for $80 on a website, slap a logo on, on call it day. What we do instead, is custom build your entire website from the ground up.
There are a few advantages in doing so:
- Custom look – your website doesn’t look like a million others out there that have used templates
- Lightning fast – since everything is semantically and properly built, this ensures very fast page load times
- Great for SEO – your web pages will be much better optimized for Google
- Easy to maintain – after launch, there will inevitably be changes done to the website. Developers love clean code to navigate through, which is another big advantage here.
Tools for developing a website:
- Sublime Text
- Visual Studio Code
6. Testing Phase
Once the website is built out, we go rigorously go through your website to make sure there are no broken links, no spelling errors, and the presentation on all responsive devices is consistent and looks (and feels) professional and consistent.
We also make sure that are meta descriptions and metal titles on a client’s website. This is very important for search engine optimization (SEO), which leads us into the next phase.
7. Optimize For Search Engines
Typically, having a great website is only half the battle. If people aren’t aware of it, then what’s the point?
This is where search engine optimization comes in. We make sure the keywords that a client’s audience is searching for are located within certain pages on the site. This means that when people do a Google search for that term, your website will come up.
There’s a lot more that goes into SEO, and having to rank high in Google for certain keyword terms – however, we do make sure that all of any client’s web pages are properly optimized for Google’s indexing.
Now is everyone’s favourite phase – the launch!
This is the phase where we take your old site offline, and place your new website in it’s place. The effect is generally immediate – there could be some 24-48 hour downtime, but this really depends on the situation.
After the website is launched, we have a general checklist we go through. This contains the following (and more);
- Thorough run through of the website, making sure all links work correctly
- Testing once more on desktop, tablet, laptop and mobile to ensure consistency
- Set up Google Analytics (if it’s not already setup)
- Set up Google Search Console to monitor traffic (if it’s not already setup)
Concluding our web design process post for 2018
As you can see, there are many steps in order to launch a successful website. It’s time consuming, but absolutely imperative (and worth it!) in order to ensure that your online presence becomes a success.