Most of the time web designers usually think of the web design process on a technical footing like code, wireframes, content management and vice versa. However, great design is not about how social media buttons are integrated and slick buttons are made. Great design is basically about having a website creation process that aligns with an overarching strategy.
Well-designed websites offer things more than aesthetics. They attract visitors and help people understand the company, products/services, branding and other key elements via a variety of indicators, encompassing visuals, text and interactions. This means that each element of the website must work towards a defined goal.
But in what ways can web designers achieve the unified and harmonious synthesis and unification of all these elements? A web design process which is holistic enough to help can do a lot.
The web design process in key steps
Here are the key steps of the web design process:
- Identifying objectives.
- Defining the scope.
- Sitemap and wireframe making.
- Content creation.
- Visual elements.
Professionals of web design in Dubai working at a well-known full-service digital and branding agency would now like to explain each step in detail:
In this stage, designers need to identify the web design’s end objective, often in close collaboration with the clientele. Here are the questions that need answering:
- For whom is the website being made?
- What do they expect to find or do there?
- What is the website’s primary aim? (eCommerce, Blog, corporate website, amusement etc.)
- Should it clearly convey a brand’s core message or is it part of a wider branding strategy with its own unique focus?
- What are the competing websites? Will the website be any different from them? Any inspiration from them?
Being an important part of the web design and development process, these questions need to be answered clearly and in honest terms too. It is useful to write down all the identified objectives either bulleted or as a summary paragraph. This will help put the design on the right path.
It is imperative for designers to understand the target audience and develop a working knowledge of competition present.
Audience personas, creative brief, an analysis of competitors and competition plus brand attributes, these are the needed tools at this stage.
Defining the scope
A common and difficult issue plaguing the arena of web design is scope creep. Clients usually set out keeping only one objective in mind, which can either expand, evolve or change completely altogether during the design process.
The next thing designers know is that apart from designing a website, they end up designing an app, a web app, email templates, push notifications and vice versa.
For designers it might not be an issue but any increased expectations not matched by a rise in budget, timeline alterations or the like, the project can go down badly. A Gantt chart here is helpful as it can help set boundaries and achievable deadlines. It provides an invaluable reference for both clients and designers. Moreover everyone is focused on the current tasks and goals.
A contract, a Gantt chart or another visualization of the timeline are needed.
Making the sitemap and wireframe
Sitemaps provide the foundation for any website which is well designed. It helps give web designers an idea of the website’s information architecture and the relation between pages and content elements. No site can be made without one of these.
After that comes the search for design inspiration and creating a wireframe’s mockup. They help provide a framework for storing the site’s visual design and content elements. They even help identify potential challenges and gaps in the sitemap.
The wireframe does not contain any final design elements though, it does act as a manual for the way a site will look ultimately. It can even work as an inspiration for formatting the different elements present.
The tools needed for this are a pen/pencil/pencils and paper, balsamiq, mockups, sketch, Axure, webflow, writemaps, mindnode and slickplan.
Content engages readers and drives them to take the needed actions to fulfill the website’s objectives. The content and its presentation (the writing, the typography plus the structural elements) all help in this matter.
Content which is bland, dull and lifeless won’t be accepted by visitors. Content which is brief, captivating and intriguing gets the job done. Even if web pages need to be content intensive, the content should be divided into proper chunks.
Moreover, it helps boost website visibility for search engines. The practice of making and improving content for ranking on search engines is search engine optimization (SEO). Getting the keywords and key-phrases done right is essential, and this is why Google Keyword Planner comes in handy.
The needed tools are Google Docs, Dropbox Paper, Quip, Gather Content, a Content Management System, Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends and Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider.
Making the visual elements
Now it is time to create the website’s visual style. This will be shaped by the existing branding elements, choice of colors, logos and other visual styles. It is also that stage where designers can shine easily.
Images and videos have taken quite a role. Top notch images give websites a much better look, are mobile friendly, are able to convey messages nicely and help create trust. Visual design of a website is a way of communicating with website visitors.
The needed tools are Adobe Illustrator, Sketch, Photoshop, Moodboards, style tiles, element collages and visual style guides.
Once the website has all its content and visuals ready, it is time for testing. Each page should be tested to make sure all links are working and that the website loads properly on all devices and browsers. Errors can be due to small coding errors. It might be hard to fix these small errors but it is better to fix them.
Then a look should be given to the meta titles and descriptions as well. The order words in the former can hurt the site’s performance on the search engine. The needed tools here are SEO Spider and W3C Link Checker.
Now is the time to launch the website, provided everything is in place and thoroughly tested. But there can be one problem, the launch won’t be perfect.
At this time, some small elements need to be fixed. After all, web design is a dynamic, fluid and ongoing process requiring a lot of constant maintenance. There might be a broken link which needs to be fixed.
Web design is about looking for the right balance in form and function. The right fonts, colors and design motifs should be used. Moreover, the website designed should be user friendly. Skilled designers should be well versed in this concept and be able to make a site that is able to balance all elements together.
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