Successful web design projects follow a clear and concise web design process. Breaking down the web design process into a series of steps can help you and your clients visualize what’s needed every step of the way. In this article, I’ve listed eight essential steps in the web design process that will help both you and your clients, execute a successful web design project.
Before you jump into designing or developing any website, it’s important that you first do your research. What’s the main goal for this website? Who’s the target audience? What message do you want the website to send to visitors? What CMS will be used? Those are just a few questions that should be answered by doing solid research for the new website. Once you have a solid understanding of what the needs and goals are for the website, designing and developing the website will be a lot easier and the final product will be more effective.
2. Project Planning
Project planning involves assigning specific tasks, deliverables, and setting timelines to get an idea of what’s needed to execute the website project. Ideally, in an efficient and timely manner. Visualizing the timeline is another great way to have an idea of how long the project will take. That’s why many web designers use Gantt charts when creating timelines for their projects for not only themselves but for their clients too.
3. Wireframe & Site Map
The wireframe is the blueprint for the website. Here’s what it’s not—the colorful visual design of the website. The wireframe is only visual planning of the structure and placement of elements on the website. That’s why many wireframes are in black and white and are made up of simple shapes (squares, circles etc.). Furthermore, similar to the wireframe, creating a solid site map will help you organize the hierarchy of navigation links on the website.
4. Web Design (Mockups)
Once the blueprints of the website have been created through the wireframe and site map, the next step is to create the visual design of the website. Some might say, that this is also the fun part! The website design is often created using design software. Some web design software favorites include Adobe Photoshop, Sketch, or my new favorite Adobe XD. By doing so, you’ll be able to make changes by adding or removing elements a lot easier. Much easier than if you went straight into step five, which is web development. Here’s the visual design process in a nutshell: creating the design > making changes > client approval.
5. Web Development
Once the website design is approved, it’s now time to do the actual web development of the website. This is arguably the biggest step in the web design process. It’s also the most time-consuming. However, when done right, it’s also the most rewarding. The web development process involves developing new content for the website, refining old content, creating media for the website, and of course, coding the website.
6. Site Testing
Site testing before the launch of the website is a critical step in the web design process. It’s inevitable that there will be last minute issues that need to be addressed before the website goes live. Test the website, check for any bugs in the code, and make sure all the content is grammatically correct. You’ll regret it if you don’t!
Once you’ve reached this step, you’ve done it all. Congratulations! All that’s left to do is launch your website and then you’re done— right? Wrong! Yes, it’s amazing that you’ve made it this far. You’ve come a long way. However, once your website is launched that doesn’t mean that you’re completely off the hook. You need to be prepared for user feedback (both good and bad). Visitors will also need time to adapt to the new website so providing support for a short period of time after your website is launched won’t be a bad idea.
Lastly, website maintenance is the last step in the web design process. Maintenance is an ongoing step and it involves updating content, fixing broken links, updating plug-ins, updating your CMS, and so much more. Technology is constantly changing so it’s important that you or your client schedules in website maintenance on a weekly basis. This ensures that the website will stay on top of any updates and inveitable changes that can effect the website.
Image by Wren Sauer