Working on a web-design project for a client can be quite intimidating. There are so many elements that a web design project includes starting from goal identification to host a site successfully that it can be overwhelming.
80% of the work involved in a successful web designing project is even before you start the actual designing part. The decisions that you take at the outset of the project forms the basis for all future references. So, it is critical to have a web-design process for your clients.
In this article, we will discuss the web design process in 10 simple steps.
The first phase of your web designing project should be all about gathering information about your client. You can set the ball rolling by asking your client for a project summary. You can also send your client a questionnaire form which they can fill up and send you the information.
After you received a reply from the client, schedule a meeting with the goal to finalize the goals and objective of the website and getting it documented. In the meeting brief your client about everything he has in mind about the vision of the site. If the customer is passionate about his ideas for his website he can spend hours talking about it.
However, you must limit your meeting within the scheduled time. So, keep the discussion limited to the goals and objectives of the website in the initial meeting.
Some of the questions that will help you may ask :
By, now you must be having a good idea of the audience persona, their goals, the problems that they are facing and how the new website is going to solve that.
Quickly, draw a Goal-Problem-Solution Matrix for each targeted persona using the information that you have.
Pic. This is a Goal-Problem-Solution Matrix for WebDesignShow for one buyer persona.
After you are done with the buyer persona research, spend some time on the existing websites of your client’s competitors. Take a look at the appearance, layout, and functionality of those websites. It will give you a better idea of what your target audience is being served currently. Make a comparison of your findings with your initial Goal-Problem-Solution document.
Not only does this competitive analysis help you determine certain aspects of your website, but it can also guide you through the conduct of your social media accounts, paid and natural search campaigns, and email marketing programs.
It does not mean that you look for competitors only within your local area. You can search for inspiration even internationally.
With all the ideas that you have now, you can proceed to do a quick SWOT analysis for your website now.
Now that you have got the project details – the goals, objectives, features etc. it is time to get the project scope document in place. Many times, without a proper project scope document, the expectations are not set correctly, and it leads to sour relationships between the designer and the client.
So, one of the earliest things to do while taking on a web design project is to make a proper project scope.
The project scope document must cover:
You can ask as many questions and be more detailed if you want. However, these three questions are a must.
Also, don’t forget the negative scope of the project. By negative scope I mean the features which you have discussed but not included due to budget or timeliness issues, the features which the client website should have but he has not agreed on it, and other services which a client’s website would need later but is not included within the project.
Now that we have the goal and the scope, we should start visualizing the web pages and begin interconnecting them. We can do it by using any mind maps tools like Freemind, Xmind, etc. This mind mapping exercise will help us to create a system of connected ideas and eliminate unnecessary things, so we gain clarity.
Find your list of pages and divide them into proper categories. If any page fits into more than one category, decide on the best category for that page. Also, don’t forget the dependencies of each page. Suppose, if there is a search button, you need to make sure that there is a search results page too.
After this brainstorming session, you should have a proper plan of the website pages and their interconnections.
By this stage, we have a detailed mind map of our website. We should now work on the next important aspect ie Information Architecture (IA) of the site.
Information Architecture is all about organizing the content and flow of the website properly. When deciding on the information architecture, you have to think from the perspective of the user.
When a user lands on your website, there a few questions that he asks himself: Is it the right page? Does the page have the content which I am looking for? Do they have anything better, if this is not what I’m looking for? What is expected of me now?
This means you have to plan your site in a way that it solves all important questions for your visitors. IA will form the basis for our next step, i.e., prototyping. We can use a flowchart software like Visio to easily make IA of the website.
Prototyping is creating the structure of a website before actually creating the web design. Building a site with prototyping is much faster than doing without it. Even for a simple website, you should spend five minutes on prototyping but never miss it.
While prototyping, focus on the critical pages first. For example, in the case of an online store or blog, the product page or the blog page should be given priority because they are the most critical pages, usually the landing pages of most users of the site.
When creating each prototype web page, you need to focus on how the user can achieve their goals. Make a prototype of the main navigation and the header section too.
You can use a prototyping tool for this step if you want. I highly recommend Proto as the website or mobile app prototyping tool. There are many other similar prototyping tools on the market that you can also use.
I have linked below an excellent resource that will help you learn how to create a prototype for a website pretty fast.
Now that you have the completed the information architecture and prototyped its time to review the content for the website. Ask for all the content they have like a brochure, newsletter, business cards, team members information, etc.
For the content of the web-pages, check with the client if he has got a writer. If not, you can assist the client by hiring a freelance writer for the project.
Now with all the information that you have along with the content, you have everything that you would need to execute the project.
Now, that you are ready to design, create a wireframe first and get it approved by the client. All the details – be it color, typography, pictures, content, CTA buttons should be finalized at this stage.
In this stage, you do the coding translating the wireframe to actual web pages. This should be the most lengthy step. So, you need to communicate with the client on the status of the project on a regular basis.
After you are done with the coding, you will need to host the site on the client’s server.
If the client approves of the final design that you have done, then good. However, many times, the client will send you some changes. After you’re done with those changes, the site is ready to be launched.
There’s also a word of advice I would like to share. It ’s better that you ask the client to clear all the payments before you actually host the site on their hosting.
Your client’s site has been successfully launched by now. After launching the site, you should test the site for errors.
By following the above ten steps, you would ensure that the web design process is executed smoothly. With a bit of more research, documentation and professional approach, you can demonstrate your expertise in the web design domain.
Following this process would also set the right expectations for you and your client. Your clients would be more satisfied with your professional approach and will love the experience of working with you- which should be your ultimate achievement.