In the past, I’ve had a handful of clients who have had little or no experience working with a web designer before, making the whole process seem a tad overwhelming. I strive to make the intimidating, tech-related stuff simple and easy for everyone to understand, including my web design process.
I focus on four main phases: I plan, I design, I develop, and I launch. Seems easy enough, right? Take a look at each phase below to see how simple the entire process really is!
Questionnaire. The first thing I’ll ask you to do is to complete a web design questionnaire. It may seem like a daunting task at first, especially if you haven’t put a whole lot of thought into your project. That’s the whole idea behind the questionnaire though; not only does it supply me with the necessary information to get a good idea of what you’re looking for, it also gets you thinking about your expectations for the project, the functionality you’ll require, the content you’ll need, and more!
Proposal. Once I’ve received your completed questionnaire, I’ll review your responses and go over any questions or concerns I may have. When that’s all finished, I’ll put together a formal proposal for your project which will detail the required functionality, pages, and payment terms.
Contract. So you’re happy with the proposal I’ve presented? Great! Next I’ll have you sign a contract for the project. The contract will outline my expectations of you as a client, including payment terms, a termination clause, copyright information, and more. This document also outlines what you, the client, are entitled to from me throughout the duration of the project.
Content. Next, I’ll need something to design and build your website around: the content. This is perhaps the most difficult task for some clients, especially those who have never had a website before. But, rest assured, I’m here to help! While I can’t write your copy for you, I’ll be glad to help you organize what you come up with, and make sure that it’s presented in an SEO-friendly manner. This is also the time when you’ll provide me with any photos, existing logos, graphics, etc.
Site Map. To be sure we’re both on the same page, I’ll organize the content you supply me with into a site map. This will break down the navigation of the website, any necessary links, and a hierarchy of page organization.
Wireframe. The first step of the design process involves laying out all of the elements to be included in the website: copy, images, logo, navigation, contact form, etc. No design will be applied to the pages, no font styles will be defined–this step of the process simply creates the framework for the rest of the project.
Mockups. This is my favorite step; it’s where I get to bring your vision for the project alive! This phase involves an initial design concept based on your questionnaire answers, your ideas, and your goals for the website.
Review. Once I’ve submitted my initial design concept, it’s time for your feedback. I never assume you’ll love any design the first time around, and sometimes it’ll take some perfecting after the second or third time, too. This is your chance to tell me what you love and what you hate, if I’m right on track or if I’m way off–I’ll get it perfected in no time!
Content. Now that I’ve got the basic framework for the site, I’ll add your content. This includes all of the copy that you’ve given me, any necessary links, photographs, logos, etc. This is the phase where your project really starts coming together and begins functioning like a full-fledged website!
Test. The worst thing I can hear from a client is that something on their newly launched website isn’t working or doesn’t look right. When I hear those words, I know I failed to test something completely. That’s why I start testing and troubleshooting during this phase. I’ll check to make sure things are looking great across all modern web browsers, I’ll test your contact form, any special functionality, links, etc.
Polish. Great news, your site is almost finished! During this phase, I’ll let you take a peek at what has been done, so you can ensure everything is looking up to par. Don’t like a color I’ve chosen, hate a photo I’ve used? That’s when I’ll change little things like that–this is the phase where the site gets perfected.
Transfer. Transfer to a live server, that is. Whether I’m providing the web hosting for your site, or you’ve got another hosting option lined up, this is the phase when I’ll upload all of your site’s files to a live server.
Test. I’ll do some final testing, including code validation, broken link checks, spell checks, and cross-browser compatibility checks. I’ll make any necessary fixes to the site before handing it over.
Hand Off. It’s finally finished! In this phase, I’ll provide you with any necessary training and documentation so I’m sure you’re feeling 100% comfortable with your new website. For 30 days after the hand off date, I’ll be available to fix any bugs you may stumble across.