For those who aren’t skilled in design, it is easy to look at a website and fail to notice all the intricate details that went into its creation. When you look at a colorful, creative, user-friendly website, it is easy to assume the concept just came together without much effort. After all, it’s simple to use…so it must have been simple to make!
In reality, the web design process is quite involved. There are several phases that you and the designer must navigate.
Phase #1: Gathering Necessary Information
This is the most important stage of the web design process. It sets the stage for the entire project. Before going any further, the web designer must have a thorough understanding of your business and what your expectations are.
The designer will need to know…
- Your purpose. Do you want to simply provide information to visitors or do you intend to sell something?
- Your goals. Do you hope to rank on the first page of Google? Do you want to draw 10,000 visitors each month? Do you hope to earn a fortune with affiliate marketing?
- Your target audience. Think about the age, sex and interest of the people who will be visiting your site.
- Your special requests. Maybe you want your website to include a community forum. Perhaps you want an ecommerce store for your products.
- Your creative ideas. Are there certain web design trends that have caught your eye? Can you visualize the logo for your company?
Your designer needs to know all this – and much more!
Phase #2: Planning the Structure
Before getting too far into the creative aspect of things, your designer will need to map out the big picture of your site.
A site map is basically an outline of all the topics and subtopics you hope to touch on. Later, this will help the website designer implement a user-friendly navigation system.
You’ll also want to work together to determine the best technological aspects of the site. The designer will need to know what Content Management System you want to use (for example, WordPress).
Phase #3: Building the Site
This phase comprises the bulk of the actual website design process. The visual layout takes shape and you’ll begin to understand the look and feel of the site.
The designer will take all the visual elements of your project and put them together – logo, color scheme, etc.
At the end of this phase, there will be a prototype for you to check out. Excluding the site content and other special features, you’ll be able to see the basic shape of the finished product. A review and approval cycle will take place with the designer making your suggested tweaks.
After the visual tweaks have been made, the designer will move to the development portion of this phase. The designer will add the content and actually create the site. At the end of this phase, there will be a functional website.
Phase #4: Testing the Site
Once the website is functional, the website designer will test various aspects like the forms and links. The designer will also need to check compatibility issues (making sure it looks the same on all browsers and mobile devices).
You’ll need to communicate with the designer regarding the final reveal. When, exactly, do you want the site to go live? Once you’ve decided that, the designer will “un-hide” the site or remove the “under construction” page.
Phase #5: Promoting the Finished Product
Technically, the web designer’s responsibilities are finished at this point. However, if you work with a full-service marketing firm, you’ll learn the real work is just beginning.
This isn’t the Field of Dreams; if you build it, they won’t necessarily come. You need to put in a lot of effort to drive traffic to your newly completed website.
A marketing professional will help you create an SEO checklist. This helps increase your likelihood of being found in a Google search. It will involve both onsite and offsite optimization techniques.
You might also consider social media marketing. This is the act of using social media networks (like Facebook and Twitter) to drive traffic to your site and raise awareness of your brand.
There are tons of other marketing techniques that are available to increase the visibility of your site. A marketing professional can help you identify the ones that would be best for you.
Phase #6: Maintaining the Ongoing Project
Most website evolve over time. Perhaps you want to add a new product to your ecommerce store. Maybe you want to delete one of the previously offered services. Some site owners like to outsource the job of maintaining their blog.
Unless you have an in-house design team, it is probably best to have your original web designer help you with these things. It is easy to make a simple mistake that has devastating, long-term ramifications to your site. It’s usually best to let a professional handle web design changes!
While the web design process might be complicated and time consuming, it is definitely worth it when you lay eyes on the incredible finished product!