“If you can’t describe what you’re doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.” –William Edwards Deming
Every website design and development project consists of a series of steps that must be undertaken repeatedly. Although each project and its requirements are unique, the series of tasks involved in setting up a business website are consistent.
A clearly defined website design process involves outlining the steps to complete the design and development. Following a well-defined and documented web design process reduces project completion time, improves efficiency, and ensures that no crucial steps are missed.
A stellar design is not just about the beauty of the visual interface. It then combines a well thought out strategy with the design and development process to achieve the purpose for which it is built.
Here is the list of steps your web design process must include for you to create winning websites.
Step 1: Set goals.
Initially, your project should have a creative brief that outlines the end goal of the website. Here is a list of questions to be answered before starting the web design project:
What objective should the website achieve? What problem does it solve?
Who are the target users of the website?
What is the benefit that users would get from using your website?
What is the main purpose of the website – to inform, to sell, to get users to sign up for a service or something else?
Is there a competing website that operates in the same niche as the one you plan to launch? What are its strengths and weaknesses?
The answers to these questions should be included in the creative brief you prepare. It gives much-needed direction to your design project, without which things would probably go wrong.
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In order to answer the questions above, you need to define the target audience. Categorize them into distinct audience personalities. Work on your value proposition and the benefits your website provides to the target audience. Perform market research and competitor analysis, and determine where your website or web application fits in a larger segment.
Step 2: Plan the strategy.
Scope creep is a very common phenomenon in web development. The scope of the project keeps expanding and expanding during the design and development phase, extending estimated timelines and possibly requiring budget extensions.
The establishment of realistic timelines and strategic planning is essential to the long-term success of the project. There are three main things to sort out in the planning phase:
1. Programming language and technology stacks
The technical aspects of the project, such as selecting the technology stack to build the website, should also be decided during this step. The decision about the technology stack is based on the website goals you sketched out in the previous step.
If the website is intended to be a source of information for its users, content management systems like WordPress would probably meet your requirements. On the other hand, if you are looking to build an e-commerce website, robust web frameworks would suit your needs better.
You should do a detailed analysis of programming languages and technology stacks and study the pros and cons of adopting each technology before making a choice. A comparative analysis, such as Ruby on Rails vs PHP, would help you better understand the pros and cons of one framework over the other.
2. Sitemap and wireframes
The site map provides an overview of the information architecture of the website. Creating a sitemap before you begin the actual design phase helps you plan for more efficient website navigation.
Wireframing is the foundation of a well-designed website. It provides a framework for the visual design and content elements of the website and acts as a guide for the final look of the website. The sitemap and wireframes are like your website blueprint that form the building blocks of the final website.
The wireframe and sitemap also serve as a guide for the distribution and placement of content on the website. Design can be focused on the most important web pages and content silos designed to be effective in helping to achieve website goals. There are several prototyping tools you can choose from to design your website wireframe.
3. Content Strategy Planning
Content is the raison d’être of a website. The value it provides is the reason users decide to visit the website, so the importance of a well-planned content strategy cannot be stressed enough.
Content development should take place with an SEO strategy in place to ensure that website content reaches its target audience. A well-planned content strategy increases a site’s visibility in search engine rankings. Optimization, using tools like Google Analytics, is a must for content creation.
Step 3: Design and develop.
The design elements of the new website should be largely influenced by the existing brand elements. The color scheme, logo design, and other interactive design elements to be incorporated into the website depend on what the brand stands for. In the case of startups, the web designer has much more freedom of choice, but for established brands, it is essential that the design of the website appears consistent with the existing brand image. As Irene Au said, “Good design is like a fridge – when it works, no one notices, but when it doesn’t, it really stinks.”
The design handover to the development team is followed by the actual coding process. The platform, database, and framework you finalize during the planning phase all play a role in translating designs into actual working web pages.
Front-end and back-end development should be focused during the development phase, with due diligence given to incorporating website content into the design. Front-end coding involves compiling HTML/CSS code and deploying it to run on the server.
Step 4: Run tests.
Website testing is a critical step in the website design process and should take place alongside development. End-to-end website testing consists of a number of different tests, including functionality, usability, interface, compatibility, performance, and security testing.
A thorough testing program ensures that the user does not encounter any problem while browsing your website or web application. Functional testing ensures that all functionality of the website is validated against those mentioned in the functional specification document. Usability testing focuses on ease of use when browsing in terms of accessibility, searchability, and usefulness.
Compatibility testing ensures that the website works consistently across a range of devices and operating systems, including mobile devices and tablets. It is essential that your website undergoes a rigorous testing program and that any issues or bugs you discover are addressed before launch.
Step 5: Launch and maintenance.
Launching the website involves transferring it from a local server to the live server. Web design is a tightrope between form and function, and your design and development team needs to strike the right balance between the two, before the website launches.
Launching the website is not the end of the development journey. This is just another step taken. The maintenance phase is what follows and is essential for the website to be up and running successfully.
The testing process is ongoing, with the site constantly being updated with new content. Web developers should fix broken links if any, add and test new features and content, and continuously update the existing website based on user feedback and current trends to ensure user experience. exceptional.