The typical web design process takes at least 14 weeks before the clients can see websites tailored to their needs and goals. That may sound "fast" for web design companies; however, it sounds like "forever" for clients. 3 months could be unbearable for brands and entrepreneurs, who are eager to jump into the digital bandwagon and generate profit right here right now. This causes a conundrum to solve.
Many web design teams ask themselves, how to secure this much-needed time and at the same time avoid the whole drama of agonizing wait, thereby ensuring good relationships with the customers? The answer is simple – keep clients happy during the entire web design workflow.
How? There are numerous ways to do this: have personalized communication, honor each request, provide top-notch support; but, first and foremost, eliminate all the gaps and blind spots in the website design process because nescience causes the whole confusion and frustration. Furthermore, educating clients about the steps to design a website is increasingly important for many other good reasons.
Why Is It Important to Know the Website Design Process Steps?
As we have already mentioned, from the perspective of a web design company, educating clients about the website development process is crucial. With a clear understanding of the situation, clients may give the dev team the much-needed time to finish their job and provide a high-quality result without ruining relationships. However, that is not all. There are some more benefits of opening up about the routine, for example
- It creates transparent relationships with the clients increasing the trust and credibility of the web design company.
- It helps to meet each other halfway and work together for the early resumption of the situation.
- It helps to get what you need from the client without much questions and considerations at every stage.
- It helps to work more efficiently and productive inside the team.
- It helps to provide updates that make sense to the client, thereby bringing actual value.
- It helps avoid confusion and misunderstanding in the latter phases when changes to the website design can be costly and time-consuming.
- It helps to produce the result that meets the expectations of clients.
- It helps to hit the deadline.
- It helps to deliver the result faster, saving precious time, effort and resources.
- It helps to establish yourself as a trustworthy and hassle-free company securing the brand's image and increasing reputation on the market.
- Finally, it helps to get more revenue. As we all know, the satisfied client can become a loyal fan of the company and eventually generate more profit by ordering other services or bringing leads.
What about people in the tech industry looking to know more about web design workflow to create a great website design plan? Understanding what is happening behind the curtains is also vital for them because of these good reasons:
- They will understand what a good web design company should go through in its workflow to achieve the best result.
- They will learn why it is important to choose a fully-fledged web design company, even though it may cost more money and time.
- They will learn why the website development process takes so much time.
- They will learn why it is essential to implement a tried-and-tested web design workflow.
- They will learn how web designers and web developers work to understand why it is crucial to collaborate with them closely.
- They will find out when is the best time to collaborate with the team not to delay the website design process and get the desired result within the established time frame.
- They will learn how and when to provide a clear definition of the objectives so that the vendor fully understands what they need.
- They will understand how to create a great website design plan that achieves their financial goals without losing precious time and money.
- They will get a stress-free relationship with a vendor.
Educating clients about the web designing process is beneficial for both sides. The web design team gets what they need from the clients without much hassle as well as manages to keep them happy. As for customers, they catch on to what it takes to get the website that attracts new leads and generates conversions, get answers to burning questions, and clearly understand the value of money spent.
So, what is a holistic web design process that backs up everything we have just said? Let's break it into pieces by walking through 6 vital steps to design a website.
Website is much more than hits the eye. It is an intricate mechanism: a beautiful marriage of design and functionality that comprises aesthetics, functional units, user experience, accessibility elements, interactive details, engaging content, SEO features, marketing strategies, and even psychological tricks. Therefore, the website development process just cannot be fast and straightforward. It is time-consuming and skill-demanding for a very good reason.
However, even though sometimes it may take Herculean effort to meet the client's requirements, still it never takes the phenomenal technical educational background to understand what stands behind website design process steps. Let's consider them closely to see it for yourself.
Website Design Process Steps
From the discovery phase, where the company discusses the client's dreams, needs, and requirements to launching the final version and providing ongoing maintenance, the web designing process consists of numerous steps that the web design team takes to provide clients with the best result. These steps are grouped into six primary phases:
Let us walk through each phase to understand what it is all about.
It starts with one thing - the first joint interview, aka the first contact with the project. It is the most crucial part of the whole web designing process. Everything discussed here will influence the result. If you miss something, everything can go wrong, costing a high-quality result, good relationships, and lots of money and time.
It is here where the web design company collects all the necessary information to get the web design process started and, most importantly, set it off down the right direction. The vendor should explicitly understand what the client needs and expects from the company at the end. The brief phase should cover the project from top to bottom, leaving no stone unturned. As a rule, it gets answers to such vital questions:
- Who are you, and what do your company specialize in? This is a general overview of the company. It is here where the client tells the story behind the brand, philosophy, and overall corporate image. If they have a product or bring some value to the community, it should be revealed here as well. Also, the client should tell how their company stands out from the crowd, what makes them different from the main competitors, and what message they want to deliver.
- Who is coming to your website, and what is your ideal customer? This is an overview of the target market. It is increasingly important because the audience and their taste and preferences define the lion's share of the future website specifications. Believe it or not, the website's design, functionality, user experience, and content may drastically vary depending on the age group, gender, demographics, and even psychographics. A thorough understanding of the audience gives the web dev team a solid ground to build on. For example, they can define what visuals to use or what browsers and devices to serve, or what accessibility features to prioritize to make the website comfortable.
- What is the goal of your website, and what is your dream for this website? This is an overview of goals and expectations. It is the Polar Star of the project. This is another influential factor in the decision-making process. Much like the target market, the clearly stated objectives of the website give the web dev team clues on how to build a website. Whether it should be a small yet impressive promotional page or a seriously looking platform that turns visitors into brand evangelists; should it draw attention to the product or create an enjoyable user experience to drive brand engagement. The important thing to note, in traditional digital marketing, the goal should be only one. However, it is possible to set two or sometimes even three goals for the website, but they should be as clear as possible.
- Who are your competitors? This is an overview of the competition. It can give so much insight to the web design company. Not only are SEO and marketing strategies built around analyzing the competitors but also design and user experience. For example, by analyzing the rivals, web designers can find out what color scheme works the best for the audience or what interactive features to include in order to meet the audience's expectations.
- What is your ideal website look like? This is the first overview of the design and technical specifications. The client should share his vision of the future website: what functions they want to include, what atmosphere should prevail and what design features are necessary to advocate brand and impress visitors.
On top of that, some companies consider a brief phase a time to discuss the budget, project timeline with specific milestones, and a final deadline.
As you can see, the brief phase is all about the company and the idea behind the project. It is centered around the strategy and goals that the company would like to achieve. Therefore, it should cover all the essential areas of potential information to shape the overall web design project. This is why both sides (client and web dev team) should give their 100% here.
After getting all the necessary information from the client and establishing a clear goal, the time has come to plan everything from top to bottom. This stage usually begins with defining the scope creep.
Scope creep is the project scope plan that covers tasks that should be done, deliverables that should be provided to the client, timelines, and milestones so that both sides know what and when to expect.
During this step, lots of research work is done. It is also a stage for brainstorming and coming up with ideas and prototypes to meet the client's specifications and expectations. As a rule, this phase covers such aspects of website design as:
- Sitemap. It defines the overall website's architecture and hierarchy as well as clears up the relationships between pages.
- Information structure. It defines how the content will be structured. It is one of the most crucial steps in the web design process since it lays the main foundation of the future project. Everything will be built on that, so it needs to be well-thought-out.
- Wireframes. At this point in the web designing process, the team creates the initial layout of the pages and mockups. They do not have any design features, only dummy blocks and graphics to reproduce an information structure schematically. In addition, the team maps the location of the functional units to ensure the proper level of usability and accessibility.
After that, the team needs feedback from the client to make adjustments if necessary and get the confirmation to move forward with the proposed option. The client must take part in this phase because it sets off the whole website development process in the right direction. If something is missed out here, it may lead to further costs and delays.
The time has come to give the monochrome, bland and faceless wireframes an actual look. The third phase involves coming up with design features, styles, and elements that will create the entire aesthetics and general atmosphere.
As a rule, this phase starts with research because the team needs to find some design inspiration. Along with that, the team analyzes the company's brand identity and website designs of the competitors to decide on such aspects as:
- Color scheme. Since the color is the first thing that the user sees and understands in the website, it should be well-reasoned.
- Branding elements such as logotype or mascot. These visual identity elements help connect a website with the company and create a transition between other channels, ensuring a seamless brand-centric user experience across the board.
- Typography including font families for header and body text, font size, font style, and other properties. Much like a color scheme, typography is a top priority. Not only is it a tool to display text, but it is also a trusted asset in the web design arsenal. For instance, it is used to amplify the message, reinforce the project's general atmosphere, and enrich the overall aesthetics. In addition, with the proper style, weight, size, and other parameters like line height, it helps achieve optimal readability, improve user experience, and ensure a high accessibility level.
- Artworks for headers, hero areas, footer, etc. These elements are responsible for producing the crucial first impression, efficiently delivering the message throughout the project, and tie everything together, thereby establishing harmony on the project.
- Visual elements including icons, buttons, controls, etc. Although they are just tiny details of the user interface, they make a big difference, as practice shows. They complement the tone and style of the project and, at the same time, lay a solid foundation to build a great user experience.
- Rich media, including videos and animations. In 2021, there is no place for a static website. If you want to stand competition, your website should be interactive. This implies working into the project hover effects, transitions, animations, and of course, videos.
That is not all. During the design stage, the web design team seeks solutions to nail four critical factors of good website design:
Last but not least. As a rule, at the end of this stage, the team should come up with several variants so that the client can choose the best option to meet the goal.
As a client, you need to study every option thoroughly. Ask yourself these questions:
- What option will respond best to your target audience?
- What option works the best for devices that your audience prefers to use most?
- What option "sells" your service or product the best?
- What option advocates your brand?
- What option helps to achieve the best omnichannel user experience to run successful marketing campaigns?
The design stage is all about pretty things that make the website look outstanding, whereas the development stage is all about bringing these pretty things to life and let them do their job. It is here where all the magic happens, and everything becomes real.
The development phase of the website design process is quite extensive. It includes several crucial stages.
- Converting design into working HTML/CSS template.
- Converting HTML/CSS template into CMS-based website if it is required.
- Adding all the functional units.
At this stage, it is essential to remember about such important factors:
- Framework. The majority of modern websites are built on some framework. It can be the unknown hand-crafted solution, popular boilerplate like Bootstrap, or a fully-fledged content management system like WordPress. Each approach has its cons and pros. Therefore, choosing the proper foundation is vital so that the final result does not ruin everything, for example, by being too slow or too difficult to manage.
- Web standards. The website should meet all the web standards to become a reliable asset. On top of that, the code should be optimized, well-structured, and well-documented.
- Accessibility. Accessibility is a huge thing nowadays. It is not a trend – it is a must-have. Your website should be accessible to everyone. Therefore, it should meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
- Responsiveness and mobile-friendliness. In 2021, there is a whole bunch of screen resolutions to cover. So the website should gracefully adapt to any device coming its way. On top of that, it should be comfortable to navigate using fingers.
- Site's performance. Site optimization is closely linked to user experience and conversions. If your website works slow or causes episodic waiting, your users will leave and never come back, compromising your marketing strategy and costing you lots of money to get back on track.
- Security. According to stats, almost 90% of organizations worldwide experienced phishing attacks last year. Whether you run a small blog for a local audience or work with payment systems to sell products to international buyers, security should be your top priority.
- SEO. Needless to highlight the importance of search engine optimization. Standing behind the organic traffic that your company needs to stay afloat, it is a vital aspect of every website in the World, regardless of scale and niche.
- Testing. QA team tests the website and generates a thorough report so that the dev team can fix bugs before the launch state.
The website is ready to go at this stage of the web design process or almost ready to go. The deal is, do not expect the launch phase to go flawless. Mistakes happen all the time: website development is prone to unexpected things and challenges. However, when everything is done perfectly during the website design process steps, chances of catastrophe are minimal.
The launch phase includes these steps:
- Final tests on functionality, performance, and security.
- Transfer the website onto the client's server.
- Integration of additional snippets like Google code analytics, email marketing instruments, ads, etc.
- Final tests on user experience.
On top of that, some web design companies provide clients and their teams with training and in-depth documentation for using certain site features.
Nothing is over once the site goes live. Although the maintenance stage is widely considered optional, it is obligatory for those who prioritize marketing strategies. At this phase of the web design process, the vendor provides such services as:
- security tests;
- updates or add-on installations;
- integrating new features;
- the content update and creation.
In addition, at this stage, brands run A/B tests to find out what approach converts the best or determine what changes best influence metrics. Therefore, they quite often use the help of the web design company to bring these experiments to life.
Whatever website design is, it is your trusted tool to reach the target market and succeed in your niche. At the end of the day, everything should be flawless. To achieve that perfection, you need to maximize the web design workflow. Get to the bones of each step and make the most out of every opportunity to collaborate with your web design company.
Websites come in all shapes and sizes. Although the clients' goals and requirements may drastically vary on a case-by-case basis, when it comes to the web design process, it looks almost the same.
It includes six primary phases: brief, planning, design, development, launch, and maintenance. Each one has a dozen crucial steps that should be done and thoroughly polished. Like it or not but it takes two to nail this process. Therefore, understanding the steps to design a website is increasingly crucial for both sides.
Get to know website design process steps better to make the collaboration effective and avoid confusion, misunderstanding, drastic delays, unexpected costs, and disappointment.