Simplifying your Understanding of the Web Design and Development Process
Are you curious or confused about the web design process? One of my clients in the past has jokingly referred to it as the dark arts as it is a complete mystery to her. Well, it shouldn’t be something you have to worry about when you are working with a professional designer or web design agency.
My web design and development process below outline’s the various procedures involved from start to finish in order to complete your web design project. I like to demystify the web design process for you while you can get busy running your business.
This process outlines a customised or bespoke website design, you can, of course, use professional templates which simplifies the process further. We find WordPress is an excellent platform which allows you to edit and update your website, without having to use code. WordPress is also a great starting point for creating bespoke original web designs or customised themes based on your preferred premier theme.
What are the key steps involved in our Web Design Process?
Don’t let creating a new website, or updating the existing one be an overwhelming experience for your business or organisation. Let me break it down for you into a series of manageable steps that you can understand.
5 Step Website Design Process
- Planning Stages: Establish Project Scope, Aims and Objectives and Your Target Audience.
- Design Stages: Establish Website Requirements, Sitemap and UI Wireframe, Page Layouts, Review and Approval Round 1.
- Web Development Stage: Frameworks, CMS, Special Web Features, Form Validation and Adding Content, Review and Approval Round 2.
- Prelaunch: Usability Testing, Final Review and Approval Round.
- Launch and Beyond: Maintenance & Updating, Training, SEO Security and Performance.
The Creative Brief
After my initial phone call or email conversation, I will arrange a meet-up or a further online collaboration to establish your creative brief. This creative brief in essence, is a document or blueprint for your project outlining all the details of your web design project. This will not only guide me but will also help you determine the overall aims and objectives for your web project.
My web design process is always tailored to suit each and every client’s unique individual needs.
Remember, your professional website is designed specifically with the end user in mind. What works for Client A may not work for Client B. However, I do have a strategy that helps me to move your project along in a very collaborative way, that ensures your project comes in on time and on budget.
I usually set out these milestones for you so you can review the project at each stage. I can also tailor your budget to these milestones as objectives are completed. My studio at Chris Flynn Design values the importance of good communication, organisation and accountability throughout the web design process.
Web Design Process Step by Step
I create websites that are consistent on all levels including design, content, SEO and functionality in order to provide a great user experience. Read below for a more detailed explanation of our 5 Step Web Design Process. These are some of the general steps that you should expect from Chris Flynn Design. And don’t forget If you need a logo to go with your new website you can read my logo design step by step process here.
Your website is one of your most important business assets. It should be considered an investment rather than an expense.
1. Planning Stages – Creating a Shared Vision.
My web design studio will set out a plan that takes into consideration your aims and marketing objectives. This is before your website development even begins.
Planning lays the foundations for your project and is really the most important stage of your project. I will work with you or your team to decide on your website requirements, scope, and technical restraints. We then establish the key areas of responsibility for everyone involved. This process provides understanding and clarity and ensures we are all on the same page regarding your website goals and objectives.
I will will conduct a professional website audit on your current online presence to establish what works and what doesn’t work. Then I will set about researching your brand and your competitors to create a clear plan and a shared vision. These essential steps ensure you reach your target audience and organizational goals.
What I need from you
First, I need to establish your website aims and objectives. This includes questions such as;
1. Why are visitors on your site? Are you selling a product or providing a service? What information are your visitors looking for?
2. What are the resources available to build your website? Do you have a skilled team responsible for content management including copywriting, image editing and procurement? We have all the tools you need to provide these services if required.
3. Who is going to manage your website? Do you need a CMS (Content Management System) that you can easily manage and update yourself? Will you do this in-house or will you need to contract out your web maintenance and updates?
4. Do you have your own brand guidelines or do you need a visual style or brand created for you?
5. What are your future aims and objective’s going forward? Will you eventually require e-commerce integration i.e. a shop, a blog or maybe a chat facility?
2. Design Stages – Creating Wire Frames and Visual Mockups
My web design process takes on a very holistic approach from the initial research and analysis stage right through to the design and functionality of your website. So what does this mean? Well, we all want to have a beautiful website but its how it works that really counts. This prototype stage helps me to create that harmonious balance combining great design, great functionality and great overall performance.
Once I have all the information required I will create what is called a sitemap. This is essentially a plan or layout which decides how all your information including your navigation, feature requests and web content will be organised. Our aim here is to develop a clear page hierarchy that is consistent, easily understood and explored by your visitors. I will then create UI (User Interface) wireframes and visual mockups.
The importance of creating a great user experience (UX) cannot be overstated when designing your website. UI wireframes are a powerful visualisation tools which are employed to help you understand your users experience and most importantly how they will interact with your new website. UI wireframes will provide you with the confidence that your website requirements are being fully understood.
What is User Experience?
Your websites goals and conversion rates are determined by how your users interact with your website, product or service. A great user experience simply means focusing on understanding what your users need. It centres on improving the quality and ease of use within your website by providing a clear path for navigation within your webpage structure. To put it simply, good UX design involves a clear understanding of your motivations, and making your user’s experience as simple as possible. This means your users find exactly what they need fast and with the least amount of steps. The most important elements of your website are therefore placed front and centre for maximum results.
What does User Interface mean?
The user interface (UI) is the space where interactions between humans and machines occur. In terms of web design and development, the aim of UI is to produce a website that is easy to navigate. Don’t forget the more efficient and enjoyable your website is for your users, will mean they keep coming back.
UI wireframes produce a visual indication of the kind of content on your page and most importantly where this content will be placed. I will outline the best solutions that will help your clients in the easiest way possible when navigating your website. My Web Design Process includes recognisable patterns that intuitively allow your users to find what they need fast.
I am especially conscious of creating usable, interactive interfaces on smaller devices such as smartphones and tablets. My Mobile UI wireframes are concerned with improving special features, for example, touch controls and user inputs.
An Example of Our UI Web Design Process
Finally, when I have established that we have the best UI that understands your user’s needs, I move on to the visual elements. This is where I bring it all together to include your brand and identity and ensure your goals and objectives are well and clearly defined.
What I need from you.
Content: This includes copywriting, photo’s, infographics, videos and graphic design elements such as logos and brand guidelines. If you need help with any of these elements please talk to me. (see examples below)
As web designers and developers we always hear the expression “Content is King.” This is true for many reasons. First, it tells your clients or customers exactly who you are and what your product and services are. It also tells search engines all these wonderful things which mean you will be ranked according to user search queries. This is why great quality content along with the best SEO practices will help you get found and stand out from your competitors.
Images: Some websites will require a lot of images. Maybe you have an E-commerce shop with a lot of products or you are a photographer with an extensive portfolio. This would mean a lot of high-quality images that you’ll need to provide for us. These will then have to optimised for web viewing in order to ensure your site is loading fast.
I can, of course, provide images for you including graphic design elements and stock video’s to help get your message across proficiently.
Feedback: Again communication is key here. How quickly you can provide revisions and approvals is a big factor in how long the web design process takes.
Examples of My Visual Mockups
This part of my Web Design Process focusses on image placement, spacing (white space), font readability (typography, line height and paragraph segments), call to action buttons and the grouping important elements for quick scanning. It will show you exactly how you will expect your website to look before we go to the development stages.
This is also your opportunity to fine tune any elements you feel you would like to change, such as images, tag lines, colour theme or font choices.
3. Development Stages – Frameworks, CMS and Special Features.
What I need from you.
Final Images: All final art work including, illustrations, infographics and branding materials
Full Web Content: Any additional content needed to build out your site before going live. I always say as a company or small business you know best your “Who, Why and What”. For that reason, I always recommend you write your own content. However, if you are struggling with this, I can work together to create fresh content and a voice that best represents your brand.
Now I can set up your website in testing mode or what is known in the industry as a staging environment. Usability tests are then conducted to ensure quality and make sure everything is working as it should. This includes device testing, browser testing, and functionality testing i.e. contact form’s, links and navigation.
Final Website Review
When all tests are completed I will give you the opportunity to see your live site before it goes out to Google and the rest of the world to see. Once you are happy with the final website we are all set to launch.
When your website has launched, I am on hand to address any crucial issues that might have arisen after users visit your website. I also like to ensure you are comfortable with editing your site such as adding pages or products as required. I can provide training in such instance’s or I can take care of the updates for you with a maintenance plan if you don’t have a dedicated team to look after this process for you.
In the end, I am all about continual learning and communication to create a great user experience for you and your customers.
When designing your website, I also include integrated SEO solutions along with Google Analytics.
- Keyword Research
- Meta Descriptions
- Website Structure
- Content Hierarchy
However, if you require a more advanced SEO solution which includes monthly analytic reports and competitor keyword analysis you should get in touch for a quote.
Security and Monitoring
Security plays a huge part in the care and maintenance of your online presence. At Chris Flynn Design I hardcode your website against know security issues. It is recommended that you have additional security systems in place that will also monitor your site. I can set security and monitoring systems in place for you.
You should also consider dedicated hosting providers that provide additional security features such as site backups and malware removal. They are usually more expensive but their services are more than worth your peace of mind. They usually have a lot more additional benefits such as site speed (a well-known ranking factor) and their servers are less crowded than the cheaper options.
Maintenance and Updates
I have several options for maintenance and updates, depending on the size and requirements of your website. If this is something you would rather do in-house I am happy to provide training for you or your team. Again, get in touch for a quote. I will be posting more information regarding my add-on service so do follow my feed to keep updated.