Follow our stage-by-stage guide to get an insight into our working methods, find-out what to expect when you work with us and avoid any pitfalls along the way.
Stage one - finding out about you
The website design process we follow for each project is determined by where you are with your business.
Are you a start-up without a website?
If this is you, we’ll begin by talking about what you want to achieve with your website, as every website needs a purpose. Perhaps you want to generate sales leads, list event information, or sell a product. It could be a combination of several different elements.
The next step is deciding on how to engage with your audience, and once you have them on board, how to encourage them to take an action. And we'll need to determine what information they will need and a hierarchy in which to provide it.
Speaking of audiences we also need to know who they are. This will allow us to engage with them in an appropriate tone of voice, using copy and visuals that they'll find appealing. Understanding the audience makes it possible to create a website that is customer focused and user-centric.
Do you already have a website, but it isn’t working for you?
If your business already has a website but it isn’t working, we’ll need to do some snooping around to find out why. It might be that your business has changed and the site no longer represents what you do. Perhaps the audience has changed and you're no longer relevant to them. Or it could be because you have new competition and your website is battling against a higher ranking, or more appealing, competitor. Whatever the reason, we'll reassess your goals and focus on what needs to be changed to improve your business success.
Your branding is a key element to your website and overall marketing strategy, so during the initial stage we’ll check to see that you have everything in place. We’re talking about your logo, font use, colour palette and imagery, and it can also include copy and taglines.
We rely on technology to make all the bells and whistles work, but the technology we suggest will depend on what functions you need your website to complete. For instance, booking systems can work brilliantly if you want to offer an appointment function, and if you’re planning to update your website yourself, you'll need an easy to use content management system (CMS).
Where your website is hosted will also need to be reviewed to make sure it’s compatible with the technologies that your website requires.
Stage two - site plan and wireframe
This is where we work out every element of your website to form a structured site plan with a hierarchy of information. This can be done using a simple bulleted list, or graphically with a flow chart. Sometimes it’s easier to use post-it-notes stuck on the wall! The site plan will show the page sections of the site and how they link together. Standard sections will include services, events, case studies or a blog.
Once the site plan has been agreed we can look at creating a wireframe version. This will show what elements need to be included on each page and the rough position of each. At this stage we won’t be looking at the visual design as such - that’s coming up next.
Stage three - initial visual design
The visual design starts to take shape once the wireframe is approved. At this stage it’s good to be flexible and allow for certain elements within the initial wireframe and design to be moved around.
It’s here that the brand assets also come into play - how they are used on the website and how they relate to other marketing items you may be using. The key is to make the website coexist with other items as cohesively as possible.
We always start by working on the main website pages, such as the home page, other landing pages, and service pages, and share these with you for feedback, before moving on.
It’s important you feel comfortable with our progress and make comments before the whole site is complete.
We’ll also show you how the design will look on desktops, PCs and mobiles, so that whatever device is being used to view your website, the user is getting a good experience. For the last few years website views on mobile devices has remained at around 50% for all traffic, but depending on the audience, it could be higher or lower.
Visual design development
Following your comments, we revise and refine the design and we begin work on the pages that have not been shown in the previous stage.
Stage four - content development
With the site plan, wireframe and visual design in place we can work on the content for the website. Sometimes this is just a case of gathering imagery and documents together. But more than likely copy may have to be written or edited. You may need photography, video, illustration and infographics as well.
It’s a good idea to have a pre-planned strategy for search engine optimisation (SEO) in place too. In its simplest form this means creating content that will be relevant to searches. It’s also important to keep the site user-centric by avoiding ambiguous terms in copy that can confuse or frustrate visitors.
Stage five - front-end web development
Development of key page templates
While the content is being pulled together the website page templates can be created. More often than not a CMS will be used to administer the website once it’s live. The page templates are part of that system. These key templates will show some of the content in place to begin with, and will allow you to test the pages online for the first time. You can use any device, desktop, mobile or tablet to view them.
Development of remaining page templates
Any refinements to the template design will be done at this stage, as well as work on the remaining pages.
Danger area: ‘scope creep’
One thing to avoid at this stage is ‘scope creep’. It’s easy to add extra features or more content that hasn’t already been planned for. The big danger is that this can delay the development process and in some cases incur extra costs.
Stage six - back-end web development
With the templates approved they can now be integrated with the CMS installation. This will be done on our local system first and then transferred to a development server that you will be able to access. We will input some, or all of the content, depending on what we have agreed to do. You will be able to login to the system on the development server and add or edit content.
Prior to making your website live you can give the website a final review and test all of the functions.
Transfer installation to live/production server
The very last stage is to make the website live. This involves moving the entire website installation over to the hosting platform used for your domain.
It’s a long and slightly complicated process, but we hope our guide will make it clearer. No two website projects are ever the same and we treat all our clients individually.
TL;DR? Get in touch with us to find out how we can work for you.