A 6 Step Website Design Process for Clients

web design process

Potential web design clients may be new to understanding how the website design process works. Educating clients on your web design process is a great chance to demonstrate your expertise, credibility, and authority in providing websites that get results. In this post, we’ll break down the website design process into 6 steps.

The 6 Steps of the Website Design Process

Quality web design is much more than building a website, and having a step-by-step approach to web design projects shows all the work and skill involved in developing a successful online presence.Quality web design is much more than building a website, and having a step-by-step approach to web design projects shows all the work and skill involved in developing a successful online presence. Maybe you’ve never thought about your approach to the web design process in these terms, but maybe the outline in this post can help shape your own.

Take these 6 steps, create a special page on your freelance website, and point new clients to your web design process. Most clients will prefer a clear, actionable plan for their web design project, and clarifying your website design process will help with communication throughout the project, ultimately leading to happier clients–and less work (and headaches) for you.

Step 1: Discover

The Discover phase of the web design process is all about information-gathering. This step is important for you to understand more about your client’s business and industry, their target market and customers, and the ultimate goal/aim for the website.While it’s easy to skip the discovery and planning steps and jump right into design, these first two steps are critical to building the correct website for a client’s needs.

Questions to Ask Your Clients During This Step:
  • What does your business or organization do?
  • What sets your business or organization apart from your competition?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • Describe the concept, project or service this site is intended to provide or promote.
  • What is the goal of your website?
  • Who is coming to your website?
  • What is your dream for this website?
  • Is there a budget for their web presence?
  • Whats your favorite color or color scheme for your company?
  • Whats your logo look like? Do you have one? Do you need one?
  • What social media platforms are you on?
  • How do you intend to update the website? Who will be doing the updating?
  • Where is the content coming from? Do you need content writing?

During they Discovery phase, you can better gauge the chemistry between you and the potential client, investigate the working conditions you will have with the potential client, and estimate the scope of the project.

This meeting is also when you can inform the potential client about your process of web development (hint: this post!), and suggest additional features that can meet the client’s goals. This is also a good time to educate the potential client on the importance of your ongoing services for website maintenance.

Step 2: Plan

Just like information-gathering, the planning step of website design is a critical part of launching a new website. As designers, it’s easy to want to jump right into the design step, since that’s the most creative (and enjoyable) part of a project. But, ultimately, research and planning will help clarify your objectives for the website and guide your design, so spend a generous amount of time in this stage of the process. Just like the saying, “measure twice, cut once,” spending time on website planning is a good investment that will ultimately save you time and even money in the long-run.Just like the saying, “measure twice, cut once,” spending time on website planning is a good investment that will ultimately save you time and even money in the long-run.

During the planning phase, you’ll want to review or create an SEO strategy for the website. Since websites often organize lots of information into a user-friendly format, this is also a good time to get an idea of missing content before you start designing anything. The planning phase also helps clients understand their role in meeting deadlines with content so the launch process isn’t held up.

The planning phase of website design includes 3 basic tasks:

1. Review or Create an SEO Strategy

  • Consult with the client on search terms for their business/industry
  • Research and review keyword volumes
  • Audit existing content for SEO focus
  • Map keywords/keyphrases to existing or needed content

2. Create the Website Sitemap

After working on an SEO Strategy, it’s time build the website sitemap. A sitemap is essentially an outline of the structure of the pages that will comprise the website. Planning the sitemap prior to working on any website design has several benefits since you can build your design around the most important pages, plan the website navigation more efficiently, and get an overall idea of the content that still needs to be written.

  • Using your SEO Strategy, build a sitemap with appropriate page hierarchies and content silos.
  • Create an actual document for your sitemap/site outline. You can use the sitemap as a checklist to guide the project.
  • Include basic website pages (About, Contact, etc.) plus additional keyword/keyphrase pages.

3. Content Review & Development

The last part of the website planning process includes an in-depth review of the website content. You’ll need to take an audit of existing content (if the client has a website already) and make a plan for producing new content. Clients can be responsible for creating new content, but sometimes it’s helpful to contract with a freelance writer to finish up content needs. I do content creation as well as an extra service.

  • Review existing web content
  • Ask for non-web content such as brochures, business cards or flyers
  • Hire or assign writers for content needs
  • Put deadlines on content completion

Step 3: Design

The third step of the web design process is to design how the website will look. In this step, a website wireframe is created with basic web page elements such as the header, navigation, widgets, etc. The wireframe can then be moved into a more realistic mockup using a program such as Photoshop.The challenge of good web design, like all design, is balancing form and function. Use the information you gathered in the Discover and Plan steps to shape your design. Good web designers have intention behind every design decision.

Design should also accommodate content. Content often accommodates design instead, and content ends up receiving very little attention. Website content is the number one thing you want viewers to notice. For each page design, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the main goal of the page?
  • Is it clear to users what action they need to take?
  • How does the design encourage users to take an action?

Good web designers also keep in mind how a design will translate to code and also think about different platforms such as mobile users. Even if you aren’t doing the development yourself, as a designer, it’s a good idea to invest in your coding skills. Have a developer review a design before it goes to the client.

Finally, use the Design step to finalize the overall look of the website with the client and discuss decisions for colors, typography, and imagery. Confirm the design with the client before moving on to any development.

Step 4: Develop

In the Develop step, the website design is translated to actual code that makes the website work. This stage can be the most lengthy, so keep clients informed on the status of the project.

A 3-sentence email like this one is great for maintaining client communication:

“This is what we did this week (past). This is where things are (present). This is what’s next (future).”

The basic steps of website development include:

  • Install WordPress on a localhost or testing server.
  • Install a starter WordPress theme.
  • Install a WordPress backup plugin like BackupBuddy. Running a backup plugin during development makes it easy to 1) revert file changes and 2) move the site to the live domain or server for launch.
  • Using the mockup, translate the design to the live site.
  • Test and optimize along the way.

Step 5: Launch

Finally, it’s time to launch the website. Since there are so many steps involved in launching a website, it’s a good idea to use a checklist to make sure you haven’t missed a step.

Step 6: Maintain

This last and final step of web design is often overlooked by freelancers, but website maintenance is important for the long-term health and success of a website, as well as a source of potential recurring revenue.

Before a new website project even begins, educate potential clients on the longterm responsibilities of owning a website. Just like owning a car or house, a website will need upkeep and maintenance.Just like owning a car or house, a website will need upkeep and maintenance. 

On a basic level, a WordPress maintenance service includes the following necessary actions to keep a WordPress site running smoothly:

  • WordPress Updates
  • Theme and Plugin Updates
  • WordPress Backups
  • WordPress Security
  • Analytics Tracking & Reporting
  • WordPress Hosting

WordPress maintenance can also extend into other areas of website upkeep such as SEO, adding new content or updating existing content, comment approval/replies, spam cleanup and more.

Ask your clients: Is there a long-term strategy to edit, update, and promote your website? Who will be in charge of maintaining the website? Be ready to offer your monthly maintenance rate and inform clients about hourly rates if they need you to fix website problems, make changes to content, etc.

A Smooth Website Design Process

By following the 6-step outline above, the website design process should go more smoothly. With a little research and planning, your website design will be more informed. By following a checklist for development and launch, you won’t miss crucial steps. And finally, maintaining a website protects the investment made in building the website. Ultimately, clients will be more satisfied with their experience and see the value in their website.

Business Website vs. Facebook Page: Which is Best?

Do you even need a website anymore?

It’s something a lot business owners are now asking themselves. Thanks to the increasing sophistication of social media platforms, building online relationships with prospects is now easier than ever before. As reported by Ad Week, there are now more than 40 million active small business pages on Facebook.

Over the past several years, the social platform has continually introduced new upgrades focused on keeping users from leaving the site. If you have ever tried to share a Facebook-hosted video with a non-Facebook user, you have experienced this phenomena. The video has no “home” outside of Facebook, meaning your friend must visit the social network to watch it (whether they have an account or not).

The company also now gives higher “organic weight” to content consumed on its own site, as opposed to links that send users away from Facebook. A video uploaded straight to Facebook, for instance, will get a significant organic boost over a video link pasted from YouTube.

And other platforms are following suit. So, do you really need that website?

Business Website vs. Facebook Page: Which is Best?

It may sound tempting, but don’t drop your company website just yet. If you’re going to have marketing success in the age of platforms, you’re going to need your website to be a hub for all of them.

As I’ll show below, optimizing and iterating your company website is one of the keys to business growth.

In this article, we’ll explain why business websites are not going obsolete any time soon.

1. LESS COMPETITION

buzzsumo_Facebook-vs.-Website

The competition on Facebook is fierce. As reported by BuzzSumo, the average number of engagements with Facebook posts created by brands has fallen more than 20 percent since January 2017. The company analyzed more than 880 million posts and gleaned the average number of engagements fell from 340 to 264 over the first 6 months of the year: 

Put simply, there is now more content being created than there is time to absorb it.

The average newsfeed displays 1,500 stories, according to Facebook. The company’s director of product management told TechCrunch last year that the typical Facebook user increased their total number of page likes by 50 percent in 2016. The more pages someone likes, and the more friends they have, the more competition businesses have to break through.

Compare that to your company Website, where you have someone’s undivided attention — even if it’s only for a few seconds. Will you have to do something to drive traffic to your site? Yes, but that’s nothing a solid organic search strategy can’t handle.

Companies who practice inbound marketing may have hefty competition for keyword search terms at the beginning of their journeys, but that competition will significantly decrease over time with consistent effort. Conversely, Facebook competition is only likely to increase.

2. YOU CONTROL THE EXPERIENCE

Another benefit of maintaining a company Website?

You are 100% in control of the brand experience. A well-designed website will function as an extension of your company’s vision, values, and services. Not only will it provide visitors with valuable information, but it will also help them to better understand your Unique Selling Proposition.

Sure, you can customize your Facebook business page with a background photo. But, at the end of the day, the page still looks like… Well, Facebook! With so many choices available today, potential customers want to know what makes you different from the competition. A company website is much more conducive to telling your brand story in a clear and engaging manner. Furthermore, your site won’t be subject to the effects of Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm. Relying on third-party sites means following their terms of service, like it or not.

3. YOU OWN THE LEADS

While creating content for native platforms is great, there is no substitute for capturing a prospect’s email address. According to the Data and Marketing Association, email still provides the highest ROI for modern marketers. Once you have someone’s email address, you have the power to deliver the right marketing message at the right time.

While Facebook is ideal for attracting fresh prospects, it doesn’t provide everything you need to complete the sales cycle. Ideally, you want to motivate your Facebook followers to your website where they can then sign-up to stay in contact. You can’t guarantee a placement in their newsfeeds, but you can count on being recognized within their Inboxes. So, how do you get them to part with their email addresses in the first place?

Create an enticing lead magnet that motivated them to sign-up. If you have a long sales cycle, your online marketing strategy should include layered content for every stage of the Buyer’s Journey. Ideally, your website should act as the hub for all of your online marketing efforts. Use social media channels for lead generation, but nurture those leads through your website and email newsletter.

WEBSITE VS. FACEBOOK: WHICH IS BEST? BOTH!

None of our clients rely on one platform entirely. Instead, they are using platforms to build audiences where their target personas spend their time. Then, they are using their website to generate leads and nurture those leads into customers.

The bottom-line: There is no substitute for the level of brand control, user personalization and lead nurturing that can be accomplished via a business website. While solely utilizing Facebook might work great for certain consumer-based businesses (e.g. bars, restaurants, massage studios), it’s a pretty ineffective strategy for B2Bs.

If your typical buyer does a fair amount of research before making a decision, your best bet is guiding them through a strategic content funnel on your site. 

Are WordPress Websites Responsive?

Yes. WordPress websites are responsive, but not all. The responsive capability of a WordPress website depends on the theme and the plugins that you are using. Let’s take a look at how your choice of theme and plugins can effect the overall responsiveness of your website.

WordPress Themes 

WordPress themes define your websites front-end design look and feel, from navigation layouts and logo positions to content styling and the overall structure of your blog posts. Changing themes will change how your content displays to your visitors, including the display on mobile devices. It is important when choosing a theme to check if it advertises a responsive design layout. 

Bramble Responsive WordPress Theme Desktop View

Bramble Responsive WordPress Theme by ThemeTrust

WordPress plugins

WordPress plugins can add additional functionality to a website that is not offered by a theme. Plugins that display content such as page builders and sliders, may affect the overall responsive nature of your website. For example the SiteOrigin Hero Slider that forms part of the Widgets Bundle plugin, scales both the image and overlay text to suit all mobile devices.

Responsive Hero Slider by SiteOrigin

Responsive Web Design

With more people accessing the internet through mobile devices, more WordPress theme and plugin companies are focusing on responsive development, optimizing for readability and usability while taking in to consideration screen size, browser and device orientation. A few great examples of responsive themes include:

Responsive Layout Advertised in Features Sections

Most themes and plugins that offer a responsive design experience will proudly advertise this functionality under their features section on their website. They may also offer a demo for you to experience this functionality first hand. So make sure you keep an eye out, take your time and look around.

When I design a theme for you it is always a responsive design. This makes sure your customers as seeing your website on any platform.

4 Reasons to Use WordPress in Your Website Design

WordPress is a popular content management system (CMS) and blogging platform. In fact, 24% of websites worldwide use WordPress. However, WordPress isn’t the only CMS or digital publishing platform out there. So, why should your company create a WordPress website rather than using a different platform like Joomla, Drupal, Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace?

4 Reasons Why You Should Choose WordPress for Your Website

1. Easy to Learn, Use, and Update

“It’s so easy.”

One of the main reasons to consider a WordPress CMS for your website is that it’s easy to update. We always recommend using WordPress for the backend of a B2B website because it has a very short learning curve, is user-friendly, and is simple to update.

The benefit of an easy-to-use and -update content management system is that anyone in your organization can update the website. With a WordPress web design, you no longer have to submit all website changes to the IT department or an out-sourced developer and wait around for them to make it a priority. You can log in to your website, make the update, and the change will be immediate.

2. So Many Options

“There’s a plugin for that.”

Do you want to be able to optimize your meta data on each page? Do you want to make your website load faster with a caching tool? Do you want to embed forms on certain pages of your website? Are you interested in adding an easy way for users to sign up for your monthly newsletter?

There are WordPress plug-ins that provide extended capabilities for a variety of needs. Whatever capabilities your marketing or sales team requires for your website, there’s probably existing (and free!) plugin that can easily be downloaded and installed on your WordPress website. Plugins create a seamless experience for managing and updating your website.

3. Lots of Support & Security

“It’s a worldwide support community.”

WordPress has been around for over 10 years and, due to its popularity, has a huge following and developer support community. This large developer and support community has created a range of various plugins, has help sites, and forums for discussing issues and solutions. You will never be at a loss for great resources to provide the support you need to manage and update your WordPress website.

Additionally, WordPress is a secure system and rolls out updates regularly to ensure continued security for websites and blogs. WordPress users are always notified of required updates and the updates are easy to make.

4. It’s Great for SEO

“Built for people and search engines.”

We mentioned earlier that WordPress is a great platform for people as it creates a wonderful user experience. The great news is that WordPress also plays nicely with search engines. The coding and mark-up used to create WordPress websites follow best practices and, therefore, are attractive to search engines and are easy for search engine crawlers.

Additionally, there are plugins that can be integrated into a WordPress website to manage SEO data, including H1 titles, meta descriptions, meta titles, etc. Several available SEO plugins allow easy access to optimize web pages and provide instant audits of on-page optimization efforts.

We are a WordPress web design shop, so we may be a little biased when it comes to recommending WordPress as a CMS for B2B websites. However, in our experience, WordPress is easy for everyone to use (not just developers), provides a range of tools and options, has a broad support community that is easy to access, and positively contributes to overall search engine optimization.

We know that not everyone wants to spend all day working on web design like we do and we believe that WordPress is a great option for tech and non-tech professionals alike.

Learn more about the importance of picking the right backend (or content management system) for your B2B website.

(Source: WordPress)

I got the JOB! OMG

OK, so for the last seven years I have been wanting to be a high school art teacher. And I got it! My first interview became my first job. It was the strangest interview process I have ever been in, and I loved every minute of it. The Asst. Superintendent is probably the sweetest man alive, the Superintendent is, and even the Principal. How is it possible that every one is so cool and sweet. So I am officially done as a college student on December 20th, 2016. And I start as an Art Teacher on December 21, 2016. Is that the coolest thing ever or what.

My current co-op teacher over at Clearview Regional High School has been helping me prep for my first days, since I am only in for three days before break, I cannot do much, but I can get to know the kids with a Getting to Know You Activity. So he brings me this Illustrated Interview that Mariah Carey filled out in the New Yorker. Its a drawing interview. I took it and ran with it.

I am sharing this with you, maybe you can use it as a beginning of the year activity.

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