It’s not a secret that if a modern business wants to establish and even enhance its image on the web, a well-executed website is required. Since more and more people venture online and new generations of users can’t imagine their lives without the Internet, there’s simply no way to become successful without building a substantial online audience.
To build this audience, a quality, functional, and attractive website are necessary. Forget about free website builders – they will only bring you shame and a loss of audience. So, what’s left, then? Well, if it’s still not visible, you should start looking for a fantastic team among the myriad of web design agencies in San Francisco. The selection process can be complicated because you have to consider so many things, including expertise, qualification, reputation, and so on. Among the things that require your careful consideration, is the web design process. That’s right – when interviewing your potential website design contractor, you should ask its representative about the company’s design process.
First of all, before we get into picking the concept of the web design process into pieces, let’s take a look at what it is. Every web design and web development project has a set of stages that have to be gone through regularly. Each project and its requirements are unique; however, the collection of tasks that have to be ready to launch a functional company site remains pretty much the same.
An agency with a well-defined web design process usually has clearly outlined steps that it has to take on the way to completing a website design project. Attending a documented and clear-cut web design process reduces the time required for project completion, enhances the effectiveness, and assures that all of the crucial steps are in place.
Great design doesn’t only focus on the visual part of the project. It is a combination of a thorough strategy and web design and development process, which, in the end, results in a functional and highly converting website. Below is a guide that includes the key steps that a web design process should include. Talk to your potential web design agency to find out more about its operation. Making sure it has all the critical steps in place is crucial for your website’s future success.
First, you will have to fill out a creative brief for the agency, where you will provide enough data so that the agency can outline the end goal of your site. Sending out a brief to customers is a common practice among web design companies. Some of the questions agencies ask in your brief before your website design project is started may include the following:
- What is the objective of your site? What are the problems it solves?
- What is the site’s target audience?
- What is the expected value that visitors should get from your site’s use?
- What is your site’s primary goal – information, sales, service provision, or something else?
- Are there competitor sites that work in the same niche as you? What are their advantages and disadvantages?
By giving honest and thoughtful answers to these questions, you provide your web design agency with a sense of direction for your website design project. Your agency will probably have more problems in its brief, but they are most likely going to be about the questions mentioned above.
If you want to give useful answers to the brief questions, the very first thing you have to do is determine your target audience. It will help you get a clearer idea of what you want and where you want to go with your brand. If you have the necessary resources, you should conduct a competitor analysis and market research before doing so.
The agency has to understand client needs and goals, so being loud and clear about them is crucial for everything that follows from this point and on.
Web design is no stranger to scope creep. During the design and development phase, the project’s scope expands and broadens, consequently expanding the timeline and exceeding the initial budget.
Therefore, it’s crucial to set up realistic deadlines and plan the strategy for a project to be successful. The strategic planning stage includes the three main factors listed below.
Agencies have to handle such technical aspects of the project as a tech stack choice for website creation during this very stage. The agency should base a decision on the website goals outlined after you fill out the brief.
In case the site has to become an information source for its users, the agency might choose to use a content management system (CMS), such as WordPress. At the same time, if you need an e-commerce site, the design company might decide to use a reliable web framework.
At this stage, your web agency will perform a detailed analysis of tech stacks and programming languages, exploring the pros and cons of each option before making the ultimate choice. Agencies usually conduct a comparative study to define which option is better.
A sitemap is an element that provides a view of a site’s information architecture. Creating a sitemap before heading directly to the design phase is a great help in creating better website navigation.
Any well-designed website requires a properly developed wireframe. Wireframes provide a foundation for the site’s visual design and content parts, while also being a manual for the site’s final iteration. Together with the sitemap, the wireframe plays a massive role in developing a site model that will ultimately become your site’s solid foundation.
Content is pretty much the website’s purpose. Quality content makes users return to the website. Therefore, it is essential to maintain a well-developed content strategy for your site.
The best web design agencies conduct content development within the framework of the site’s search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. It helps ensure that the content reaches the client’s target audience. If the agency plans content strategy well, it helps to boost website visibility in the search engine rankings and, thus, website positioning in the search results.
The new website’s design elements have to be primarily based on the current brand identity. It considers the logo design, color pattern, and other items that should be incorporated in your site – the way they will look and function (interactive features, in particular) depends on your brand’s current message and goals. Thereby, it’s going to be much easier if you are a startup because the web design agency will have more freedom to be creative. It’s more complicated to create a website for a brand that is already on the market and has a following. It is a crucial stage because a malfunctioning or incoherent site will stand out a mile away for anyone who visits it.
If you have a development department, it’s best to make sure it cooperates with the web design agency. But, in most cases, reliable agencies have in-house developers who contribute to the entire process significantly. Developers will take care of making each detail discussed and decided on during the planning stage work.
The development phase also marks a crucial milestone for both back-end and front-end developers, as they have to cooperate, creating functional and properly looking pages according to the design layout. This stage involves a lot of HTML and CSS coding.
Website testing is an essential step in the web design process. The team should conduct it during the development stage. End-to-end site testing involves various tests that have to do with its usability, functionality, interface, performance, security, and compatibility.
Compatibility testing helps make sure that your site works consistently across various operating systems and devices, including desktop computers and mobile gadgets. Your company’s website must go through a diligent testing routine, during which any possible bugs or issues are discovered and fixed before the launch.
When a website starts working, it moves from a local server to the final, live server. Web design is about making sure your site looks great and functions properly. Throughout the entire process, you should stay in touch with your web design agency and make sure that the result represents the perfect balance between these two factors. It has to be ready before the site is moved from a local server to the live one, i.e., before it’s finally launched.
It’s also important to note that development doesn’t stop after site launch. It is an important milestone, for sure, but you will have to take care of its maintenance and updates after the website is up and running. The same goes for testing, as you will have to make sure the features and content on your company website work well and meet the current needs of your audience. In other words, you will have to tweak your site once in a while to ensure it’s not outdated.
Hiring a web design agency that can deliver quality work is realistic, but still a complicated task. Finding out about the company’s design process is one of the ways to tell if it does the job it promises to perform on your website. Although each company has some variations in its web design and development process, they are all built on similar principles. Make a checklist of the steps described in this article and go through them when discussing possible cooperation with your potential web design agency.