Web designers often think about the web design process with a focus on technical matters such as wireframes, code, and content management. But great design isn’t about how you integrate the social media buttons or even slick visuals. Great design is actually about creating a website that aligns with an overarching strategy.
Well-designed websites offer much more than just aesthetics. They attract visitors and help people understand the product, company, and branding through a variety of indicators, encompassing visuals, text, and interactions. That means every element of your site needs to work towards a defined goal.
But how do you achieve that harmonious synthesis of elements? Through a holistic web design process that takes both form and function into account.
For me, that web design process requires 7 stages:
- Goal identification: Where I work with the client to determine what goals the site needs to fulfill. I.e., what its purpose is.
- Scope definition: Once we know the site’s goals, we can define the scope of the project. I.e., what pages and features the site requires to fulfill the goal, and the timeline for building those out.
- Sitemap and wireframe creation: With the scope well-defined, we can start digging into the sitemap, defining how the content and features we defined in scope definition will interrelate.
- Content creation: Now that we have a bigger picture of the site in mind, we can start creating content for the individual pages, always keeping search engine optimization in mind to help keep pages focused on a single topic. It’s vital that you have real content to work with for our next stage:
- Visual elements: With the site architecture and some content in place, we can start working on the visual brand. Depending on the client, this may already be well-defined, but you might also be defining the visual style from the ground up. Tools like style tiles, moodboards, and element collages can help with this process.
- Testing: By now, you’ve got all your pages and defined how they display to the site visitor, so it’s time to make sure it all works. Combine manual browsing of the site on a variety of devices with automated site crawlers to identify everything from user experience issues to simple broken links.
- Launch! Once everything’s working beautifully, it’s time to plan and execute your site launch! This should include planning both launch timing and communication strategies — i.e., when will you launch and how will you let the world know? After that, it’s time to break out the bubbly.