My website design process starts by defining your website.
“The goals and objectives that are established at the outset of the project. Guiding all future decisions on every facet of the website. The goals and objectives help form the overall hierarchy, user experience, and the back end.” Nick Collins
The first step in the definition process is interviewing the organization’s stakeholders to identify the strategic goals of the site. Understand the multiple buyer’s personas and identify key competitors. The goal of the definition step is to identify three measurable key outcomes directly related to the strategic goals of the organization.
The Project Summary
Carefully outline the general overview of the project at this specific stage. I think about the organizational background, the environment, the organization exists in, the people, the organization it serves and the unique value it provides to its audience.
Goals: What are two or three (no more than five) specific measurable goals that should realistically be achieving? Specific goals allow me the ability to focus on what will provide the most impact and move the organization forward.
Specific target audiences: Help the organization achieve its stated goals? Most organizations speak to multiple personas. These include customers, stakeholders, internal audiences, suppliers, partners, or government institutions. Persona profiles typically include demographics, psychographics, brand perceptions, audience needs, online goals and tasks routinely performed.
Messages: What represent the key messages that interest and motivate key audiences to engage with the organization? What are the key brand messages? That helps differentiate the organization from its peers?
Competition: Who are rival organizations that provide similar offerings to your audience? Include an overview of competitive organizations’ web sites. Consider visual branding, messaging, navigation, calls to action.
Project Scope: Defining the scope of the project is a critical step. One of the most common frustrations with Web projects is scope creep. By creating a well-defined project scope plan. Outlining specific activities and deliverables, along with specific timelines, you will be able to clearly set expectations for your clients.
Wireframes and Site Architecture
Site architecture: includes the sitemap and wireframes of pages. Creating the sitemap ensures that you’ve considered all the key pages in the site. Demonstrating their relationship to each other and defining how the sties overall navigation will be structured.
Wireframes: provide an accurate view of the content that will appear on each page. Although they do not show any actual design elements. The wireframes provide a guide for defining content hierarchy on the page.
Visual Design: Once the blueprint for the site has been defined. The subsequent step is to develop a visual style. The overall visual style will most likely be determined by the visual brand of the company; the goal being to connect the Web with all other forms of the organization’s communications. The organization’s brand fulfills a significant role in this part of the process. Designers will be conveying brands key perceptual ideas within the design.
With model approved, it’s time to flesh out the design of the pages. Use this time to develop creative materials and repurpose older content. Create videos, slideshows, podcasts and other media that will appear on the website. Then start to building out the HTML and CSS.
Site Testing: Before the site is launched, it will be placed on a production server. Ensuring only internal audiences and anyone who you assign the link with can view it. Testing of the website is critical, inevitably, there will be issues needing to be addressed.
Nothing erodes a brand more than a website that doesn’t function properly or that has misspellings and broken design elements. At this stage the website will need to be reviewed on multiple browsers (Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer) and various devices (laptops, tablets, and mobile) to see if and where breaks occur.
Launch: The crucial day. You’ve tested the site, it’s approved by the project stakeholders, and it’s time to launch. But once the site is launched, the project isn’t over — You should be prepared to address feedback from users adapting to the new site.
Expect to make some immediate changes to the site, such as fixing broken links, editing copy and making adjustments. The website is a fluid medium that changes constantly — change is inevitable.
My Website Design Process Also Includes Future Site Maintenance
Websites are living, breathing entities and need constant care and maintenance. Updating content, making changes to the backend and fixing broken links are all in a day’s work.All of these phases are critical to the Web design process. But the thread that runs through the process is strategy: the desire to achieve a goal, to move the organization forward, to prosper in a competitive environment.
Are you thinking of starting a website? It’s not uncommon to want to tackle this on your own. My advise, hire a professional, this may sound bias (probably). Why hire a professional web designer? Simple, there is no replacement for experience. Designing a website is a process relying on research, strategy and testing.