In our last article on collaborating with web designers, we talked about why working closely with your web designer increases your website’s conversion rates and sales. We also explored some of the possible ways to strengthen collaboration and coordination between the web design team and yours!
Without further ado, let’s get into the how’s of collaboration in a web design project. The 7 steps below comprehensively explains how we web designers typically develop a website, and how you can get involved in each stage. For a quick summary, check out our very own simple process flow here.
Getting to Know You
This is an important step where we need you to sit down with us to discuss and understand your goals for your new website. You can always check out our web design questionnaire to find out what we need to get started immediately!
This first phase is meant to iron out all details and requirements before the project commences proper. It’s best to involve all relevant stakeholders, including your boss, your marketing/branding head, and if possible, a potential customer of your services/products.
Without understanding your requirements fully, the project could head in the wrong directions, and extra costs and time may be incurred to make changes. Often, web designers encounter this which is known as scope creep.
This happens when clients refresh their objectives repeatedly. The changes in initial goals accumulate into an entirely different project scope. A 10-page website could easily become a 20-page site; a website meant for information could end up having login accounts for member privileges.
Now, these are within our capabilities as web designers and most would be happy to create something unique to your business. But an extended project scope requires an extended charge or lead time for additional efforts. It’d be like trying to pack 10 biscuits into a box that can only hold 5. You’d need to pay for a box that can hold 10 biscuits.
When collaborating with your web designers, make sure to keep things realistic and measurable. If there are changes, finalise them with your team before briefing the web design company. Depending on what you need and the SOPs between companies, you need to accommodate for more costs and time to deliver the final website.
To reduce miscommunication and patches of revisions, of course, the first step – getting to know you – is of utmost importance
Planning and Sitemapping
With the scope set out, we can start sculpting the skeletal structure of your website – the sitemap. Along with that, we can visualise how the needs we identified in the scope will be integrated into your website.
Your sitemap determines the foundation of your website. For web designers and content writers, we can then see how information is structured across your website, aka information architecture. From here, we’re able to plan a clear and logical navigation route through your website for visitors and begin wireframing your pages.
Wireframes serve as a blueprint for arranging the layout of your pages. It’s an optional but useful method of putting ideas and plans into a diagram to see how a website may turn out and what can be improved or explored from there. Note that wireframes are a guide and may not reflect the end product.
Designing a website without having a sitemap is akin to producing a movie like Avengers without a script. We could have all the best equipment and actors in the world but we wouldn’t know what to do with them.
Finalising this with you is a milestone point in your web project, because your sitemap shapes the meat of design and content we’ll put on your site.
Look And Feel
Using the website’s information architecture and content plans, here’s where we start working on the visual design of your website.
The designs will either take reference from your existing brand visuals (fonts and colour palette) or from you. The moodboard custom formatted and designed by us is meant to be used exclusively for web design. Within this palette, we consider your font type(s), images, colour scheme and design style.
One element alone may be common to see on another website. The intention is to create an interplay between the visual elements that shows off your brand and website’s personality as a whole. Then apply this to your entire website as the reigning theme of your brand.
The moodboard or theme represents the ‘look and feel’ of your website. It is critical for you to be present during this process and clear the elements individually or collectively with your web designer, before we move on to the next step as the design will be based on the moodboard from here on out.
Design Of Website
After confirming the sitemap and moodboard with you, we’ll commence the actual design of your website with the features included.
This is where the application of strategies and concepts start. At the same time, it’s also where we as web designers can really show off and design your website to precisely shine in the light of your vision.
Designing your homepage first is fundamental to how designs for the rest of the pages will flow. Your homepage is the design model from which your inner pages will take reference from. Once that is approved by you, the designs can follow suit naturally without straying too far from the design objectives.
For this to happen, collaboration between us has to be close. Visuals and graphics form a huge part of websites, since illustrations get your users’ attention and connect them to your content even more. Statistics show that web design, especially how a clear message is conveyed visually, is the number one hook for trust and credibility.
A professional website always makes a professional first impression – and that’s what happens first when visitors click into your website. Image-oriented websites are typically preferred over content-heavy websites because they make a website more fun and interesting to go through.
Now that we have the full design of the site ready, we can work on creating and editing content for the individual pages.
With the design of the website completed, we can begin writing the text! Content that markets is content that matters. The words you choose, where you write it, the style you write it in, the amount of content per paragraph or point – they are what we call content style and content structure.
This sustains and guides attention through the website after the design catches it. When working with your copywriter or editor, you’ll want to provide accurate and comprehensive information as much as possible so that they’re able to understand the context of your business.
It doesn’t matter if the information is not relevant to the website; it’s imperative you get your content writer to understand you, before they understand what you want your customers to see.
To explain further, content writing has two ways of achieving its goals.
First: Writing Style
Your copywriters will be able to handle most information out of experience and practice in making content web-strategic. What you need to do is ensure that the accuracy and purpose you want in your content is relayed in their writing. Reading it from the perspective of your customers, how does the content make you feel?
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is what websites do to appear above competing websites in search results on search engines like Google.
Good web content writers will strive to provide the services you need and inform you on content strategies for SEO. However, as industry experts, you can maximise these strategies by supplying your insight of keywords, terminology and customer interests. Every business has a unique combination of selling points that SEO can capitalise on.
Most web designers consider this an additional service and charge for this, and they should. Because this could easily double or triple the man-hours needed to write your content. However, the rewards of site visibility are worth it. Apple has one of the best SEO in place – if you search for “apple”, the fruit doesn’t appear first, the brand does.
See how we do it here.
At this point, your website is more or less completed and ready to be launched! Your web designer should be able to give you a runthrough of how it looks to visitors.
With everything done, testing is next up on the checklist. The main issues to address would be whether there’s any broken links, if your website is able to load all media and content fully, and if it’s mobile responsive.
You will also want to talk to your web designer on the sizes of images on your website and check on how they are making use of the best available tools to compress the images and speed up your site. Why? Big images can lag your website and cause people to leave, and this is not prioritised by some web designers.
Optimising your images means speeding your website up by possibly much more than 100%. To see not one, but multiple ways we optimise your website’s speed without compromising image quality, take a short read here.
If you and your web designer followed the steps here properly, errors are usually slight in nature and can be fixed easily. It’s important to identify the errors before the website is launched as even a small error could damage the reputation or first impression of your brand quickly.
Before launching the website, the onus is on you as the client, to ensure everything runs smoothly before giving the green light. The responsibility does not fall on your web designers when errors happen after you express official approval for the service provided.
Of course, most would rectify the errors to their best ability, but know that professional web designers will not launch a website without prior consent.
It’s only ethical and reasonable for all parties to account for their own actions in any service rendered. So please, be kind to us as we’re eking out a living for ourselves too! And we do want to do the best we can for you and your business. Afraid things might go wrong later? Worry not and read on!
Handover And Training
Once everything’s working beautifully, it’s time to make your website live and get it working!
Congratulations! Your website is now live and running! It’s an entire brand asset you’re publicising to the world. As web designers, the feeling of seeing our hard work up and running, viewed and interacted with, is an indescribable feeling of validation. Designers are creatives at heart after all.
When you launch your website, there may still be some minor bugs and errors that could have slipped through the gaps of all the careful checking and proof-testing. Most web design companies offer follow-up services and continuous support to conduct maintenance and updates whenever necessary.
We also offer a proprietary Auto-Page generation feature that allows you to easily add and modify your own pages for products and services in future!
This lets you do so through a form on the backend which you can fill up. The form automatically translates your content and images into a new page that professionally follows the design theme of your website! How awesome is that?
On top of this, should you want to incorporate more images, graphics and designs on your own time, you’ll need to make sure your images are perfectly optimised and compressed so that they don’t slow down your entire website and chase away traffic! Learn our secrets here.
I Have My Website. What’s Next?
Web design is like a car, which is a constantly evolving vehicle with new models released every year. You need to keep it well oiled and maintained, making sure all the parts work together to give your car form and functionality.
In terms of websites, you need to continue updating it with new content and tools as needed, and have it patched with the latest latest security measures. Websites will always be vulnerable to new kinds of hackers and malicious software as long as technology continues to evolve.
As such, the future boils down to the mobility and responsiveness of our teams to remain in close communication.
As a personal after-service support to you, our lines are always open for you to contact us if you run into any difficulty in future. You’re also welcome to use our live chat feature on our website for instant support! Just click on the icon on the bottom right corner of your screen.
On your part, you can ease communications between teams by allocating a point of contact from your company who can work with us at a moment’s notice. Reducing administrative clearance and barriers of engagement will get things done a lot faster and ensure timely support. Downtimes cost money, and as they say, time is money.
On the same note, you as the owner of your website have the responsibility to manage its backend operations within your company. After we’ve provided training and the proper user resources, the ball is now in your court to update your website’s content, images, pages and even structure to improve user experience.
A website can never be perfect as technology and user preferences continue to advance rapidly. Professional web designers will go the extra mile to teach you how to conduct analyses on your traffic and ways to keep your website secure and up to date.
Don’t worry, at Dream Fox Design, we’ve toiled around the clock to make it much easier than usual. You’ll be uploading and adding content like a pro in minutes after we’re done!
Find our more about our exclusive processes and features here.