Having a good website design and development process is important in order to deliver a successful project. Websites are a key marketing tool for many businesses these days. That’s why, apart from branding, website design is one of the key services we offer.
Design of a new website or redesigning an existing website can come with its challenges. Website design has many aspects to it; not only about understanding the different user experiences and interactions needed, structuring of content, but also visual design, image creation, copywriting, animations, coding and compatibilities.
Our well-planned and organised website design and development process is one of the key cornerstones to a successful and smooth project; it includes 5 phases: discovery, plan, design, development and support.
Below we will run through the steps of a typical website design and development process and how to prepare from a client perspective.
To effectively design a website you need to understand the business; it’s challenges, target market and customer. The research phase includes an initial assessment of the current situation, company background, competitors, discuss goals, target audience, experience consideration, and site functionalities.
If available, content such as text and images, will be reviewed and the content strategy developed. This can include creating copy or sourcing imagery. A draft of the copy will be finalised before moving onto the wireframe stage.
Sitemap and wireframes
Once all relevant information has been collated and the research has been undertaken, the planning phase starts. This is when we plan the structure and navigation of the website, the website architecture. A sitemap, in the form of a flow chart is outlined, indicating a hierarchical overview and structure of the website with page names and descriptions.
After the sitemap has been finalised the wireframes will be developed. This includes basic layout, content priorities and user experience considerations for all template pages.
The planning phase is a very important step in developing a website. It is the backbone of website; therefore, it is important to define this before moving on to the design phase.
By this stage you should have a clear idea of what each page should entail. Based on the wireframes, the home page is the first page to be designed. This will define the overall look and feel of the website. Once the home page design has been signed off, the remaining page templates will be designed. Finally, all assets and images will be saved for web in correct sizes, colours and fonts along with all content organised and ready for development.
A staging development will be set up. WordPress and theme will be installed (if applicable) along with configuration set-ups.
Based on the visual design, the home page will be developed, followed by all other template pages. The pages will then be optimised for other screen sizes. Additional creation of pages and population of content, such as blog posts, portfolio or gallery items will be added. Plugins will be added and configured based on requirements discussed.
Testing and migration to live
The website is then tested and fine-tuned to migrate the website from staging to live. Once live, final checks will be done to make sure the website has fully transferred.
All websites need regular maintenance to keep safe, up to date, and running smoothly. This includes the updating of WordPress itself, themes, plugins and backups. We offer monthly maintenance plans based on your requirements.
We offer day courses, face-to-face or written documentation, going through the basics of WordPress and how to add a new project, pages or posts.
How to prepare for a website design and development project as a client
Before you get started
Be clear on the objective of the site; traffic, leads, revenue? Outline the challenges and goals for the website, what does success look like for the website? What does failure look like? Are there specific, measurable, and realistic goals?
Be realistic with your budget and expectations
It’s a good idea to have a think about your budget before contacting an agency, as it will impact what is possible and what can be recommended.
Website costs can run away if you are not careful. If the brief isn’t clear or if new ideas are added in the design phase, development fees can increase. It’s important to have realistic expectations of your websites performance, objectives and results.
What options do I have?
Squarespace, Wix, WordPress, theme or custom builds are all different options (to mention a few)depending on what your goals, objectives and business requirements are. Do your own research first, and also ask your agency for advice on the pro’s and con’s with the available options for your budget and requirements.
Don’t underestimate your own involvement
Website projects can be relatively lengthy, generally from 6 weeks and up, depending on the size of the website and the requirements.
It’s easy to underestimate your own involvement as a client. If you are responsible for supplying copy, images, URL links and any other content, this takes time. Also, consider the additional time needed for feedback and decision-making.
Building a website is a big investment. Because it is a significant asset to your business, it’s important to work with the right design team. Not only from a brand consistency point of view, but also to keep the website safe and up-to-date.