The Web Design Process
Creating or updating a website, as a client, can be a fairly daunting time.
At this point, decisions have been made either to start a business, attract more clients or encourage future sales through a website. You, the client, may see competitors with websites that look more attractive or newer than yours. You may even have heard that your website is not responsive but may not know what that actually means ! Don’t worry! Envizion Digital are going to tell you everything you need to know and how to get the most out of the people designing and building your new site.
1.0 Outline and Research the Project
To start with, you should have a clear idea of the objectives and goals of your site. There are numerous types of site, whether marketing products online, information of portfolios, o explanation of services, larger businesses with gateways for employees to navigate or small businesses simply needing to demonstrate what is their business and showing basic contact information. A website can be somewhat fluid with a mixture of items. Large company websites, within the oil industry, will always look more impressive than smaller businesses, such as a coffee shop, but can be built in various ways to optimise goals.
The audience is the biggest factor in how a website’s outcome should look. Researching the required and desired audience is imperative, and key questions of their demographics should be asked. This will effect the outcome and design of the the website and the user experience a journey that an audience will undertake when landing on the website.
This will outline and give the designers of the site a clear understanding of your company, product or portfolio. Research what benefits you or your company the most as well as the audience engagement.
2.0 Project Goals
Look for clear project goals, whether it is to increase sales, gain awareness of a product or simply to modernise the existing site. Knowing this will be a great start to building the foundations of an efficient website.
3.0 Target Audience
The question is, who is going to be perusing the website or web application? Is the answer the clients, suppliers, partners, internal communications or potential clients? It would be wise to look at key demographics such as the age of the targeted audience. Are trendy, young people looking to purchase your products, or is it the latest gadget, where detail and information is important about the new product. The brand ID chosen for the company is another important factor to consider. We now live in a world of computers and technology but first and foremost is to brainstorm on paper thoughts and ideas, then start defining key aspects of the project.
4.0 The Message
What are the key messages needed to send to an audience, in order to engage them with the website? Is explaining what the company does, its services and the company’s ethos, sufficient? Different styles of writing on a website can drastically effect communication and engagement.
5.0 Research Your Competitors
It is always a good idea look at your competitors or organisations that do similar work to you or your company. Take some screenshots of sites which are eye catching including those which are unappealing, look at the tone of voice on the site, the brand strategy, how the website is navigated and who is being targeted.
Beginning a project with sound research is going to speed up the process. No one knows the business goals as much as the company owner or a project manager does. A design agency will do their own research. However, coming to a meeting with clear objectives will make a project commence with an improved idea of the task, rather than starting off with no clear thought of what is required.
6.0 Project Scope
Here is where you and the design agency or person building your website need to agree on what is needed. There is truly nothing more frustrating on a project that ‘scope creep’, by both agreeing on a range of ideas, which outlines the requirements or special features of a site from the beginning. It will help with creating something amazing, on time, on budget and not looking like a patch work quilt. Agree on content strategy. For example,at Envizion, we would have the content from a client at the beginning of a project, ready for us to break down or after a design phase. Every agency or freelancer understands that many projects go downhill or are delayed, when a client too long to get the content back for the website to go live. When a good, short statement is required, sometimes the client will send an essay or send the content in copious different emails from different employees. If the content needed is difficult, a struggle or time is short, hire a copywriter or an agency. Set clear timescales for the design, content and build, which should be adhered to by the designer and the client. A project can be in danger of losing momentum which will show in the final website. An agency will usually send out a proposal after an initial meeting, to outline everything needed, including costs, timescales and website implementations.
7.0 Wireframes & Sitemap
Drawing out a sitemap will give a visual guide on how many pages are required and how the page will flow. These generally look like a flow chart, with the names of the pages on boxes to clearly identify the user journey.
Now is the ideal time to look at how the site will be built – is it word-press or custom build? What CMS (Content Management System) will be right for you in order to update the website and keep it current?
Wireframes are slightly more technical and will show the different sections of each page, whether it is a video page, a call to action or an image gallery. These can look quite basic but they really assist everyone the ability to see what the site will look like and how it will operate, without spending too much time discussing the design details of how the site will look and what exact image is to be placed. As an agency, it also prevents scope creep, as mentioned above, where the amount of pages and user journey have been clearly mapped out. If more detail is required or the addition of special features, this is the perfect time to problem solve these issues. Realising something extra is needed once the site is built and completed will cost more as parts of the site need to be rebuilt, reconstructed and designed.
8.0 Visual Design
Once the blueprint or wireframes and sitemap have been set up and everything is signed off, then its time to get into the visuals of the site.This is where you clearly see the site come together, with the choice of colours, fonts, images and videos. A pdf is sent to the client, showing all the pages designed, how they will look when on a live site and will give a fairly accurate feel of the final product. Designers should be able to give an impressive visual style to the site, keep everything on the company brand and show what your audience will relate and engage with the most. When designing a website (and we have experienced this), only get the project group to examine it. It is not always relevant to send it round the office! Everyone will have different opinions and it is here that the the danger point of scope creep can become immense. Taking on board and using everyones ideas will spoil a websites overall look and flow.
A picture of the accountant’s cat because it looks cute is definitely not required. Yes, people like cats but is it really needed on a corporate website? Although this is an extreme example of using every idea from the company staff, it may not be far off several requests we have had….
9.0 Content Creation
Hopefully, by this point, excitement about the project should be felt. When the amount of content has been worked out with the agency and where it will go, once the design has been signed off, a word document is created. This is clearly labeled for each page and has a word count on each section to make it simple for yourself or a copyrighter to finish the content. This cannot be emphasised enough. This is the point where projects can get delayed and will not move forward. Be prepared to sit down and write out the content or hire someone. Research keywords for SEO and how to write for a website to get the most engagement and search engine optimisation. An agency should be able to give advice and Envizion usually give information on content to assist getting the most out of your website.
10.0 Website Development
Once the visuals have been signed off, its time to build the website. This can be a busy time for a client to write the content as there is little more to do at this stage, except wait for the link to be emailed to display your website. ENVIZION host our own development sites, which means you can have a link to a live working website without it being seen by anyone else. As tempting as it is, refreshing the page should not be encouraged if the site is still getting built. That would be like standing over the top of a bricklayer building your house and saying the house doesn’t look ready yet, when he has only just got past the foundations! However, it is an exciting time and if the previous steps have been more or less followed, then the website will be something you really appreciate and will benefit yourself and your audience.
11.0 Website Launch
Get ready to start plugging that website everywhere and show it off. Link different parts on your LinkedIn and showcase the hard work then reap the rewards. The site will not automatically rank on Google as this takes time to ‘see’ the site and even longer to rank it. With time and patience you should be able to rank your site by using suitable and appropriate keywords and inventive copy, which was muted earlier.
Congratulations! You now have an awesome site which you are proud to share with everyone and want people to visit!
12.0 Website Maintenance
Although your site should be working correctly and well, it should be maintained. If you have a CMS or Content Management System in place then you can always change the wording if you don’t rank for certain things, change images, write news articles or blog pieces, add new products and change prices for a summer or winter sale. Its your site, so make the most of it! Keep updating it and making it as current as possible. If help is needed, usually agencies can offer monthly or yearly maintenance fees at a reasonable cost.
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