When starting a project, the most important key to success is research. With website design, you need know how your users will react based on their wants and needs. Before you start, ask your client questions about their business, their customers, and their competitors.
This will give you a better idea of how to create a website the client and the customers will like, while also beating out the competition.
You should also research a specific demographic that will be most interested in their business and how they function on the web. For example, if you’re targeting a younger demographic, remember they are very social, and conversational, so social media integration would be beneficial.
By doing this, you can create the website with potential clients in mind to generate more business for the client.
Once you have researched and asked questions about your client’s business, your next step is to begin planning the website.
Personally, I like to grab a pen and create half-page sketches of the website. These sketches do not need to be detailed, but should give you enough to see a general idea of what works and what doesn’t work.
However, if you’re not into sketching, you can wireframe as an alternative. Wireframing works the same way as sketching, but you are creating a more in-depth mockup of the website’s skeletal frame.
Mockingbird is a great, free web wireframing tool that is easy to use and very helpful.
After you complete the concepts, the next step is to finally create the design of the website.
Look at your concepts/sketches and start creating the interface based on what worked, and what didn’t. By creating those concepts before this phase, you eliminate the unnecessary hassle of redesigning the mockup because of a layout element not working with the rest.
Once you finish the design of the website, immediately present it to the client as a .png to preserve the quality (you can present it as a .jpg if you like). From there, the client will give you feedback and you should adjust the design until the client is completely satisfied.
However, don’t be afraid to defend your design decisions in this phase. If you feel a particular element is too important to be changed or discarded, tell the client and explain why. Clients often don’t understand the purpose of some elements, so the clients will most likely respect your wishes when you give your explanation.
The last step is to build the functionality of the website. No matter what programming language you use, you should always adhere to clean coding standards and always have it validated.
Having clean and valid code will make sure the website loads quickly, and will work with most browsers. If you are unsure about the latest standards of your coding language, check the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) website to help you in this process.
Also consider providing the client with a Content Management System (CMS) if they want to update the website themselves. WordPress is a favorite in the design community, but Pulse CMS is easy to use and easy to implement on your client’s website.
This step is optional, but I always recommend doing this for every client. Once everything is completed, simply ask the client if they need any other services or could recommend others to you.
- Would you like me to maintain your website for an additional fee?
- Do you want any matching business cards or other promotional materials?
- Will you need future support from me?
- Do you know anybody that could benefit from my services?
- Would you be willing to write a short testimonial about your experience?
It doesn’t hurt to ask your clients these questions. Just asking could potentially draw in more work and create a professional relationship, and if they say no, you can simply move on and look for more clients.
Tell us about your web site design process
In the comments today, tell us about your process. What do you do differently and how does it benefit you? Not every website designer follows by this exact process, but finding a process that works for you can help you create amazing websites. Don’t be shy, leave a comment.