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For the most part, when considering the web design process, designers tend to concentrate on the more technical aspects, such as wireframes, code, and content management. However, great design isn’t about the aesthetics or how well the share buttons are integrated. A well-designed website is the result of a methodical creation procedure that adheres to a grand strategy.
Websites with good design provide benefits beyond their visual appeal. They employ a wide range of cues, including visuals, text, and interactions, to entice site visitors and educate them about the product, business, and branding. Each part of your website needs to contribute to the overall objective.
But how do you get to that point of perfect balance? By incorporating aesthetics and usability into each step of the web design process.
There are seven stages in my process for designing a website:
- Goal identification is the process by which I collaborate with the client to define the desired outcomes of the revamped website. That is, what exactly is it meant to accomplish.
- Knowing the site’s intended use is crucial to defining the project’s scope. I.e., how long it will take to construct all of the necessary content pages and functionality of the site in order to achieve the stated goals.
- Sitemap and wireframe development: Once we have a clear idea of what we’re working with, we can dive into the sitemap and figure out how all of the content and features we outlined in the scope definition will fit together.
- Now that we have an idea of the site as a whole, we can get to work on the content for each page, keeping in mind SEO best practises like keeping each page on a single topic. In order to move on to the next step, you must have material to work with.
- Design elements: Now that the site’s framework and initial content are in place, we can shift our attention to the visual identity. This may already be well-defined, depending on the client, or you may be defining the visual style from scratch. In this respect, resources like style tiles, mood boards, and element collages can be useful.
- Now that you have all of your pages and have specified how they will appear to site visitors, it is time to test your site to ensure that everything is functioning properly. Use a combination of automated site crawlers and human site visitors to find and fix usability problems, broken links, and other issues affecting the user experience.
- Launch: Once you’ve confirmed that your site is functioning flawlessly, it’s time to organise and carry out the launch! Both the launch date and the means by which the news of the launch will be disseminated must be carefully planned. A bottle of champagne should be opened after that.
Having laid out the procedure, let’s examine its components in greater detail.
The web design process in 7 simple steps
You should stick to these procedures as you plan, construct, and release your website:
1. Goal identification
At this early stage, the designer (often in concert with the client or other stakeholders) establishes the desired outcome of the website design. At this point in the design and development of your website, you should investigate and provide answers to the following questions:
- To whom does this website cater?
- For what purpose do they go there?
- What do you hope people will gain from visiting this site the most? Information? Sales?
- Should a website’s primary focus be on conveying the brand’s core message, or should it instead fit into a larger branding strategy?
- If similar sites already exist, how can we learn from them and how can we make our own unique contribution?
This is the most crucial stage of developing a website. Without clear answers to these questions in the brief, the project may head in the wrong direction.
A one-paragraph summary of the anticipated goals may be helpful, or writing down one or more of the goals that have been identified. It will be useful in setting the design in the right direction. Take the time to learn about the website’s intended audience and the other options out there.
Visit “The contemporary web design process: establishing priorities” to learn more about this stage of the design process.
Tools for website goal identification stage
- Audience personas
- Creative Brief
- Competitor analyses
- Brand attributes
2. Scope definition
Scope creep is a major source of frustration on web design projects. Initially, the client wants one thing, but as you work on their website, they start asking for additional features like a web app, email notifications, and even push notifications.
This isn’t always a bad thing, as it often means designers will have more work to do. However, the project can quickly become completely unrealistic if the increased expectations aren’t accompanied by an increase in the budget or timeline.
Defining the scope of the project and establishing reasonable milestones can be aided by consulting a Gantt chart. This is an excellent resource for designers and clients alike, as it aids in maintaining focus and achieving the desired results.
Tools for scope definition
- A contract
- Planned sequence of events diagram (or other timeline visualization)
3. Sitemap and wireframe creation
All well-designed websites begin with a sitemap. It clarifies the relationships between the various pages and content elements, which is useful for web designers.
Without a sitemap, developing a website is like constructing a home without plans. It never ends well when that happens.
The next thing to do is to get some ideas for the design and create a mockup of the wireframe. The visual design and content elements of a website can be stored in a wireframe, which can also be used to find problems and gaps in the sitemap.
A wireframe doesn’t have any of the finished design elements, but it helps to show how the site will look in the end. It can also be used as a reference for how to structure various components. When sketching out their designs, some designers turn to fancy programmes like Balsamiq or Webflow. When in doubt, I pull out good ol’ fashioned paper and pen.
Tools for site mapping and wireframing
- Pen/pencil and paper
4. Content creation
After you’ve established a solid foundation for your website, you can move on to the content.
There are two main functions for content:
Purpose 1. Content drives engagement and action
To start, content keeps people interested and motivates them to take the steps a site needs to succeed. Both the actual content (the writing) and the presentation style have an impact (the typography and structural elements).
Readers aren’t likely to stick around for too long if the writing is boring, lifeless, and drawn out. Brief but interesting passages are more likely to pique their interest and prompt them to explore further. If your pages require a lot of content, which they usually do, you can still keep them light and engaging by “chunking” the content into manageable chunks, such as short paragraphs, and supplementing them with visuals.
Purpose 2: SEO
Search engine rankings can also be improved with quality content. SEO refers to the process of developing and enhancing web content to increase its visibility in search results.
The success of a website is directly proportional to the quality of its keywords and key phrases. My go-to tool is always Google’s Keyword Planner. You can zero in on what real people are looking for on the web by viewing the search volume of potential target keywords and phrases with this tool. Keep up with the increasingly sophisticated nature of search engines by enhancing the intelligence of your own content strategies. You can also use Google Trends to see what people are searching for.
When I create something, I always keep search engine optimization in mind. The title tag is where you should put your target keywords; the earlier in the tag they are, the better. The H1 heading, meta description, and the main text should all include the target keywords.
Search engines are better able to index and rank websites with content that is well-written, informative, and keyword-rich.
Your client will likely generate most of the content, but you will need to advise them on which phrases and words to use.
Awesome content creation tools
- Google Docs
- Dropbox Paper
- Gather Content
- Webflow CMS (content management system)
Handy SEO tools
- Google Keyword Planner
- Google Trends
- Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider
5. Visual elements
At long last, the site’s aesthetic direction can be developed. The client’s preexisting brand guidelines (such as preferred colours and logos) will usually inform this stage of the design process. A good web designer, however, can really shine during this phase of the process.
The use of images is becoming increasingly important in website development. High-quality images not only help establish credibility by looking professional and conveying the intended message, but they also work well on mobile devices.
Visuals have been shown to boost interest, time spent on site, and earnings. People want to see pictures on websites even more than text. Images not only make a page more appealing and easier to read, but they also complement the text’s meaning and can communicate key points without the reader ever opening the document.
To get the best results, hire a professional photographer. Although you can use free stock photos, you should know that large, high-quality images can significantly slow down a site. When I need to reduce the size of an image without sacrificing quality or loading time, I turn to Optimizilla. You should also check to see if your images are responsive.
Websites can communicate with and attract more visitors by focusing on the visual design. If done correctly, it will be a major factor in the site’s overall success. If you mess up your URL, you will be forgotten.
Tools for visual elements
- The usual suspects (Sketch, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.)
- Moodboards, style tiles, element collages
- Visual style guides
The testing phase can begin once all the site’s visuals and content have been completed.
If you want your website to look good on any device or browser, you need to give each page a thorough test. Although it can be a pain to track down and fix errors caused by typos in the code, it’s preferable to do so before releasing a site that doesn’t function properly.
Note from the editor: At this point, I suggest using Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider. The basic plan is free for up to 500 URLs and allows you to perform many of the most common auditing tasks.
Check out the page’s meta title and description one last time. The meta title’s performance in SERPs can be affected even by the order of the words used in it.
If you’re looking for a great article on the pre-launch process, look no further than Webflow.
Website testing tools
- W3C Link Checker
- SEO Spider
When all of the testing is complete and the site meets your expectations, it’s time to launch, the exciting part that everyone looks forward to during the website design process.
Expect hiccups and maybe even failures along the way. Fixes may still be necessary for some details. Because of this, web design is an ever-evolving process that necessitates regular upkeep.
The key to successful web design, and design in general, is striking a harmony between aesthetics and practicality. It’s important to use suitable typefaces, colours, and layout elements. However, the way visitors use your site is equally crucial.
Design experts should be familiar with this idea and be able to craft a site that successfully balances the two.
You must keep in mind that the launch phase is by no means the final step. The Internet is great because it’s constantly evolving. After launching the site, it’s possible to conduct ongoing user testing of updated content and features, track data analytics, and tweak marketing efforts.
What’s your process look like?
I was wondering if you had a method of design that was similar, or if it was very different from mine. Share your thoughts and experiences with us by leaving a comment.