There is a lot that comes into mind when someone thinks about the web design process. For many people, this process is all about the technical matters of web development. But then, excellent web design is more than that, and the process is worth learning and mastering.
The web design process needs to follow some critical steps to succeed. As a web designer, you want to follow a time-efficient and productive method when designing a website. Although every designer has their favorite design process, this article provides some essential steps every web designer should know.
Read on to find out more.
This is one of the most critical steps of the web design process. It is vital to set clear goals that you want to achieve in the end. You risk losing track of the process if you do not have a set of goals that align with your target audience’s expectations and are achievable.
There are a few essential questions to answer during the goal identification phase. For instance, you need to find out what problems your web design is looking to solve. For example, it could be that you already have a website, but users are struggling to navigate it. Your goal in such a case should be improving navigation.
It would be best also to consider the benefits that your audience will get from using the website. This will help you point out the design areas that need much of your attention.
It is also vital to keep your direct competitors in mind when identifying your goals. What are their strengths and weaknesses?
In summary, there are four main things to do when identifying your web design goals. They include;
- Create audience personas to help you visualize your ideal customers. It enables you to determine what their expectations could be.
- Have a creative brief – a small document that outlines the strategy of your web design project.
- Do competitor analysis, as mentioned above, to know their strengths and weaknesses.
- Define your brand attributes – the core values that define and represent your brand.
Goal identification can become more manageable if you focus on these critical areas. Finding answers to these questions can help you identify your goals. It will also help you have a sense of direction and focus your energy on the right places. Without goals, web design can be overwhelming and time-consuming.
You also need to define the scope of your web design project early on before embarking on it. It is worth noting that projects do not always go how we visualize them. Things like timeliness, resources, and others may change throughout your projects. This, in turn, affects your ability to deliver.
You should expect every goal you set to evolve and expand in the process. For instance, you may realize your website needs web apps, emails, and other features to work efficiently. Unfortunately, this means you will have to embark on making these features available, and your project may take longer than planned.
Scope definition helps you ensure that things don’t catch you by surprise. There are different timeline visualization tools that you can use to define the scope of work. An excellent example is the Gantt chart. With this chart, it’s easy to identify major project landmarks and set realistic deadlines.
As a web designer, you need to think very widely when defining the scope of your project. For example, if you need to add push notifications to your website, make sure you have them in your plans early enough. This will help you prevent your project from becoming unrealistic as you move on with it.
Plan the Strategy
The next thing to do when designing a website is to have a strategy in place. You can hire experts from web development services to help you in strategic planning. This is because your plan needs to focus on bringing out the business image you desire.
Having it done by experts increases your chances of success. Thankfully, hiring an expert is easy, thanks to the variety of service providers on the internet.
The technical aspects of the project should be the first thing to plan about. There are different technology tools that you may need to use depending on your goals. For instance, you’ll need a CMS if you will be blogging. It would be best if you take your time when choosing from options such as WordPress.
It would be best if you also visualized how the project’s final product will look in the end. Sitemaps and wireframes provide the best insights to designers even before getting down to work. In addition, different prototyping tools can help you visualize the end product.
Another critical aspect of web development that you must include in your strategic planning is content. You need to ensure that you have planned your content well on the website. The prototyping tools mentioned above will help you do it. A good content strategy will also help you get your site’s SEO right.
Design and Develop
In this stage, you put everything to work to come up with the desired product. The first things to consider when you start thinking about design are your brand elements. You need to ensure that you incorporate all aspects that define your brand, such as logos, colors, etc., into the design.
Your focus during this phase should also be on the actual coding. This is where the visualized website becomes real, and it is where your coding skills come to play. It would help if you did the front and back-end development then also add all features needed for the website to function.
Another major thing to focus on is content development. You can never have a functioning website without content. With content, textual and visual, you can drive engagement and action on your website. Thankfully, you can easily create content with templates available on the internet.
Ensure you have well-written, informative, and relevant textual content. This means using the right keywords for SEO and providing solutions to your audience. It is also essential to ensure that you use visuals correctly to contribute to good SEO and help deliver messages better.
Web designers must evaluate their websites regularly. This helps them determine whether their website meets customer needs and expectations. Therefore, website testing is essential and should be a continuous process throughout the development phase and after launching the site.
There are different things that web designers need to focus on when testing their websites. This includes functionality, usability, and compatibility with different screen sizes. End-to-end testing also should focus on security and performance testing to ensure everything is at the optimum.
It is through testing that you can determine how well your web design is going. For instance, you ensure that users can easily access and interact with your website. You also get to decide whether they can use various devices and operating systems without experiencing any problems.
You also need to take an in-depth look at your content during testing. Check for broken links and replace them for a better user experience and to boost your SEO. Fixing minor issues before launching your website helps your brand quickly become an industry authority.
Launch and Maintain
If you are happy with your website after testing, the next thing to do is launch it. But then you should understand that you could be nowhere to finish the job even after launching your site. This is because there could be a few flaws that you may not have noticed during the testing phase.
The best thing is that web design is a continuous process. This means you can change anything that doesn’t seem right even after launching your website. Therefore, user testing should also be continuous as that is how you can know if there is something that you need to change or update.
Continuous maintenance will be critical to keeping your website running. Remember, some applications and services that your website uses become outdated. Regular maintenance ensures that every application or software stays updated and your website is up and running throughout.
Besides testing, there are other ways to know what needs your attention. For instance, user feedback helps you see what aspects of your website that users are not happy about and need changing. Having reviews and comments sections enables you to collect user feedback that can help you maintain your website.
As mentioned earlier, every web designer expects a successful outcome when working on a website. But what determines the result is the process one follows. Therefore, excellent web design is all about aligning the process with your goals and overall strategy to increase your productivity and achieve your goals.
Those are some of the steps that every successful web design process needs. In addition, you need to set achievable goals, define the scope, and plan your strategy. Testing and regularly maintaining a website are also crucial steps of web design. This guide will help you focus on the proper steps when designing a website.
Dan has hands-on experience in digital marketing since 2007. He has been building teams and coaching others to foster innovation and solve real-time problems. Dan also enjoys photography and traveling.