Web Design Processes – 7 Simple Steps
Following a structured website design process can help you deliver more successful websites faster and efficiently. Try Ducehost today!
Great design isn’t just about how you integrate the social media buttons or even slick visuals. It’s about having a website creation process that aligns with an overarching strategy. Well-designed websites help people understand the product, company, and branding through a variety of indicators, encompassing visuals, text, and interactions.
Find out how these 7 simple steps can help you to design a great website.
1. Goal Identification
Designers need to identify the end goal of their website – this is the most important part of any web development process. It may be useful to write out one or more clearly identified goals, or a one-paragraph summary of the expected aims. These may include:
- Who is the target audience of this website?
- What are they hoping to find or accomplish there?
- Is the website’s primary goal to educate, sell (ecommerce, anybody?), or amuse?
- To what extent does the site need to effectively communicate a brand’s core message or is it just one component of a larger branding strategy?
- If there are any competitors, what can this site learn from them or how should it be unique from them?
Make sure you understand the website’s target audience, and develop a working knowledge of the competition.
Tools for Website Goal Identification
- Audience personas
- Creative brief
- A competitor’s analysis
- Attributes of a brand
2. Scope Definition
If the increased expectations aren’t matched by an increase in budget or timeline, the project can rapidly become utterly unrealistic.
Project boundaries can be established with the use of Gantt charts, which detail the project’s realistic timetable and include any major landmarks. For both clients and their designers, this is an invaluable resource that helps keep everybody focused on the project at hand.
Tools for defining the scope
- A contract
- A Gantt chart for a project (or other timeline visualization)
3. Site Mapping and Wireframing
Building a website is like building a house – you need a sitemap to show the relationships between the various pages and content elements. Wireframes provide a framework for storing the site’s design and visual design elements, and can help identify potential challenges and gaps in a website’s information architecture. The next step is to find some design inspiration and build a mockup of the wireframe.
Despite the fact that a wireframe does not include any finished design elements, it serves as a blueprint for how the website will look when it is finished. Additionally, it can serve as a source of inspiration for the design of different elements. Webflow and other slick wireframing apps are used by some designers. Paper and pencil are always a good choice for me because they take me back to the very beginning.
Tools for Site mapping and wireframing
- Paper and a pen or pencil
4. Content Creation
You can begin writing your website’s content as soon as the website’s framework is in place.
There are two primary purposes for which content should be created:
I. Content Drives Action and Engagement
Dull, lifeless, and overlong prose rarely keeps visitors’ attention for long. Short, snappy, and intriguing content grabs them and gets them to click through to other pages. Properly “chunking” that content by breaking it up into short paragraphs supplemented by visuals can help it keep a light, engaging feel.
II. Search Engine Optimization
Getting your keywords and key-phrases right is essential for the success of any website. Content that’s well-written, informative, and keyword-rich is more easily picked up by search engines. Google Keyword Planner shows the search volume for potential target keywords and phrases. Google Trends is also handy for identifying terms people actually use when they search.
Some Great Tools for Creating Content
- Google Docs
- Dropbox Paper
- Gather Content
- Webflow CMS (content management system)
SEO Tools that are Easy to Use
- Google Keyword Planner
- Google Trends
- Screaming Frog SEO Spider
5. Visual Elements
Images are taking on a more significant role in web design now than ever before. Not only do high-quality images give a website a professional look and feel, but they also communicate a message, are mobile-friendly, and help build trust. The visual design is a way to communicate and appeal to your site’s users. Get it right, and it can determine the site’s success.
Tools for Visual Elements
- The expected suspects (Sketch, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.)
- Moodboards, tiles, and element collages
- Visual style guides
Have one last look at the page meta titles and descriptions too. Even the order of the words in the meta title can affect the performance of the page on a search engine. Errors may be the result of small coding mistakes, and while it is often a pain to find and fix them, it’s better to do it now than present a broken site to the public.
Helpful tip: I highly recommend Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider for this stage.
Ducehost has an excellent article on the pre-launch process
Tools for Website Testing
- SEO Spider
- W3C Link Checker
When you’re happy with your website, it’s time to launch. Web design is a fluid and ongoing process that requires constant maintenance. The beauty of the web is that it’s never finished; you can continually run user testing on new content and features. Skilled designers should be able to create a site that walks the delicate tightrope between form and function.
What is your process?
Is your design process similar to ours, or does it look completely different? If you have anything to say about it, kindly do so in the comment below.