Website design is a constantly evolving term. Five years ago I would tell you that a web designer is someone who can create a layout for a website and utilize brand guidelines to create the look and feel for a website.
Today, a website designer has to truly understand the functionality of the website that they are designing. Website designers have to develop the interactivity and user experience of the site. No longer does a website designer just design a layout, they are the brainchild of the overall functionality, user experience and have to understand how to direct the user through the website in an easy to use way that seems intuitive.
At Epic Web Solutions, our design process takes a simple and effective approach to website design. Although we encourage our clients to be in the driver seat, our experience and expertise is what guide the process along by setting priorities and the overall goal and purpose of the website.
It may sound simple, but the early discussions prior to the website design set the foundation for the entire design process. We have to truly understand our clients’ products and/or services before we can begin the design.
We break out our design process into seven simple phases, they are below (see slideshare for more detail):
Phase 1: Initiate
Initiate the design process by sending our client a design questionnaire that will not only help our designer from a creative standpoint, but help our client to really think about all the elements that go along with a website. This tool has been effective of the last several years because it encourages our clients to get involved and think of creative ways to use the website to send their message and promote their products and/or services.
Phase 2: Wireframe
Once our clients have completed the design questionnaire and have developed thoughts about what the purpose of the website is, we conduct a meeting that goes over the design questionnaire and begin to wireframe. Each website we develop has a different purpose, and needs to be treated accordingly. Wire framing helps the client and designer visualize the bones of the website. This phase gets our client and the lead designer on the same page and develops a good starting point for design.
Phase 3: Initial Home Page Designs
Our designers will provide several home page concepts that are based on the business requirements, goal, purpose and other elements that the client has provided. During this process our project manager will review the concepts at certain milestones to make sure that the requirements and overall functionality is on track with the company.
Phase 4: Revision Process
Once the home page design concepts are presented to our client, we set aside a time to meet and go over the elements of the website design and our designers explain the process and why they chose that direction. During this review, our clients are able to interject and elaborate on concepts to help the designer with direction. In many cases our clients like concepts from multiple designs. At this point, the project manager and design team go over the request changes and determine the best way to incorporate the new information and feedback into the design, while maintaining the overall goal and purpose.
Phase 5: Final Home Page Revisions
After some back and forth with the home page concepts, we determine a final list of changes and wrap up the home page concept. During this time, we go over functionality and how the user will interact with the website. Once our client signs off on the design, we being to build out the sub page layouts.
Phase 6: Sub page Design
We have discovered that the most efficient way to complete the design process is to design the subpage after the home page has been approved. This way we can carry the home page design and concept throughout the entire website in the appropriate way. During this phase, we go through the same revision process.
Phase 7: Final Review
Once the home page and sub page have been finalized by our design team, we provide a final design review. This meeting is to tighten and loose ends and ensure that the design meets all the brand and business requirements as well as conveys the message that our client is trying convey through their website.