The lifecycle behind building a website is as brilliant as it is beautiful. The ambitious objectives, creative ideas and strategic planning that snowball into the final project… Well, when you’re greeted by the finished homepage it’s really just the tip of the iceberg.
Insights into how others work are always intriguing, and that’s why we’re sharing with you the details of our web design process. From discovery to design, development and lastly, the big launch, today’s Part 1 will cover concept and design; the initial stages that see an idea transformed. Let’s get started, shall we?
Stage One – Before the Project
A Beast of a Brief
So we’re the experts, but our client’s ideas and objectives are the springboard for our creativity. We work for our clients, with our clients, to develop a clear brief for the site, including the main purpose, target audience, tone, look and feel. We’ll discuss their needs – for example, the functionality of the website, the timescale for delivery and also the hosting requirements, including ongoing web management and maintenance.
To give any future marketing tactics the best possible start at success, we’ll talk over the analytics requirements. We’ll also discuss whether the new site needs to be responsive for mobile and other portable devices. By gathering all of this information, we’ll build a beast of a brief with the client – a brief so detailed, it’s pretty much a blueprint for business success.
Let’s Get Digital
Once this is all agreed, and we’re all on the same (excellently designed web) page, we’ll start to get technical. Our digital team will discuss the technical spec of the site, including an initial site map, the hosting options, and knock up a draft schedule – so both parties have a rough idea of the project’s timescale. Here is where we’ll give any recommendations and an outline of the budget – what this baby is gonna’ cost overall.
We’ll have already carried out extensive research, doing our digging on the company, its competitors and the entire industry. We’ll use our experience gained from similar jobs we’ve completed, or if it’s something completely new then our team of super sleuths will find out the score within the sector – what’s worked for others, what hasn’t. Afterwards we’ll touch base, have a brew or two, and when we’re all agreed, we’ll have a kick-off meeting to come up with a creative concept for your website. And this ladies and gentlemen, this is where the magic happens.
Stage Two – Creating a Concept
Sitemaps, Wireframes and That All Important UX
Creating a concept involves a number of key elements, with several stages. Our developers begin by drawing up a detailed sitemap, listing all the pages of the website in order of hierarchy. This enables us to study a customer’s journey; working out how they’ll navigate the site and make it easy for them to find exactly what they’re looking for.
When a sitemap is established, our designers begin creating some initial wireframes. This is a set of images that displays the functional elements of the web page – combined with the sitemap, they’ll give us (and the client) a clear structure for the site and again, the eventual customer journey.
Here is where we assess – and accommodate – that all important (jargon alert!) user experience (UX), ensuring that the entire site is not only simple, clear and easy-to-use but enjoyable too. UX is all about customer emotions and attitudes, and also the practical aspects of website navigation (You can learn more on our guide to user experience, here.) so getting it right is absolutely crucial.
Beautiful Branding and Content Display
Now that you’ve seen a wireframe, you know that they’re practical rather than pretty. At this stage, we’ve only focused on functionality, so this is where our designers will begin to pretty it up a bit. Now’s the time for a little web development vanity.
A designer’s job is to get inspired by the client’s brand strategy (or create it first, if we’re taking care of that for you too). They’ll take influence from a brand’s ethos, values, and mission. They’ll incorporate (or create) the brand’s logo, colour palette, typography, and images. This will form a look and feel that is memorable, individual and inspiring. It will embody the essence of the business or product, and connect with its audience on an emotional level.
A clearly branded design helps to strengthen a customer’s associations and experiences, at every point of contact on the site. This will not only win customers but help to keep them too. You can learn more about brand strategy here.
Concept and design is an exciting stage. At this point, the website is really starting to take shape, but it still needs a lot of work… To find out about the next stages, including the build, the content, and the testing, keep an eye out. Next week’s article will tell you all about ‘Part 2: The Build’. See you then!