For many people the mere thought of web design, and the process of building a website from scratch can seem an overwhelming and intimidating prospect and many people don’t realistically know where to begin. This isn’t helped by complex sounding jargon thrown around by web developers, jargon we feel often makes the process much harder to understand than it needs to be. Over here at Gorilla Marketing we realise this, we understand that designing and building a website from the bottom up is a daunting task; that’s why we’ve decided to use our 17 years of experience in Web Design and SEO, to put together a comprehensive guide intended to help you understand the web design process.
1: Identify your goals
At Gorilla Marketing part of our process, especially when it comes to working with new clients, involves inviting them to our offices in Manchester to speak to them directly about what they want from their website. This is perhaps one of the most important factors in the Web Design process, as by speaking directly to the client and truly listening to their ambitions and goals we are able to identify and clarify the intended purpose of their website.
Lots of web development agencies are focused primarily on turning over websites for clients as quickly as possible, rather than producing websites specifically designed with the customers vision as the focus. Although this sounds like common sense, many web developers fail to listen to what their customers are requesting and this almost always ends in disappointment.
At Gorilla Marketing we know that developing an effective online strategy, focused on reaching our clients goals, should always be the first step in the web design process – this is what varies us from other Manchester Based Web Design Services and why our clients are always more than satisfied with the websites we produce. Accordingly, that’s why we recommend making sure you have a clear vision of what you want your website to achieve before you continue the web design process. That vision, or goal, can be anything from attracting new visitors to your website and converting them into happy customers, to just keeping your audience well informed on global issues you find important.
2: Define the project’s scope
Once the website’s main goals have been identified, you can begin to define the scope of the project. By defining the scope of the project, you are addressing exactly what you need to do to achieve the goals you’ve identified and assigned to your website. For example: this could involve addressing very specifically what pages your website would need to have, the particular features it would include and any stylistic choices you believe are necessary in order for the website to be successful.
If you fail to accurately define the scope of the website you are designing, you can quite easily become a victim of something known as ‘Scope Creep.’ Scope Creep can be most simply understood as the result of not having clearly defined goals for your website, and is best imagined as starting a project with an unclear objective that mutates throughout the design process – the next thing you know, you’re not only designing a website but web applications, emails and even newsletters.
Scope Creep is one of the primary reasons we at Gorilla Marketing put so much onus on accurately identifying our client’s goals from the outset of the project. This isn’t often considered much of a problem for most Manchester based web designers and agencies, as realistically it often means more work and money for them. However, what they fail to realise is that this can often leave many of their clients feeling somewhat cheated, not to mention upset with the results these web developers have produced.
This is why we at Gorilla Marketing clearly define the project’s scope at the onset of the web development process. We are devoted to helping our clients focus on what they specifically want the scope of their project to be. Helping to provide this clarity is what makes Gorilla Marketing one of the most highly recommended Manchester based Web Design Services.
3: Site Architecture
Once your goals have been clearly identified, and the scope of the project properly defined, we can begin to consider how the website will effectively function. At Gorilla Marketing we like to make sure our clients are directly involved in this process; we feel that the best way of ensuring positive outcomes for our clients, is to present them with several wireframe designs of the website to see which they prefer and then work with their feedback. If you are designing your own website, you’re more than likely going to know your general design trajectory. With that being said however, the Gorilla Marketing team would still advise you to either use an online application, or sketch out a few ideas, to help to clarify to yourself the architecture of your site.
With a wireframe now in place to build upon, you can begin to consider how your users will navigate your website. Navigation is an integral part of the user experience of your site, so it’s important to make sure that you’ve given significant consideration to how your audience will travel between your webpages. It’s paramount you ensure that their experience of your website is one they want to repeat. The best way of doing this is to create a sitemap, creating an effective sitemap makes sure that you have contemplated how the key pages and features of the site will interconnect and relate to one another.
4: Content Creation and Visual Elements
As the site architecture is now in place, you should have a good idea about what your website’s pages are going to contain and what they’re going to look like. It’s important to keep in mind Search Engine Optimization (SEO) when creating content to fill these pages.
As one of the leading SEO and Web Development agencies in the north west, we have a lot of experience to draw from when it comes to creating engaging and ranking content. Working with SEO in mind will help your website rank higher on Google, but it will also importantly help to keep the content of each of your pages focused upon a single topic. This focused content production is integral to creating a fantastic user experience and should not be overlooked during the web design process.
Additionally, when creating an engaging experience for your website’s users, visual elements play an important role in whether or not a website will be successful or not. If you have an established client or brand to work with, this process may be relatively simple as the visual branding may already be in place elsewhere and available to use. If not, it may be useful to utilize tools such as moodboards, style tiles and element collages to help define and build a visual style for your website from scratch.
5: Testing your website
With your website’s architecture in place, and your webpages filled with authentic and original content, it’s time you make sure that your website actually works as you’ve intended it to. We’d recommend initially testing the website on a multitude of devices to make sure it’s displaying the content in a way you’re happy with. Although you’ve likely built your website on a computer, mobile users will make up a large percentage of your users, so it’s essential you consider their user experience as well.
At Gorilla Marketing we recommend using an automated site-crawler once you have manually checked the website yourself. Site-crawlers are useful for alerting you to any broken links you may have on your website, they also produce other useful information such as loading speeds and site responsiveness – all important considerations when it comes to whether or not users will enjoy using your website. Thorough testing of the websites we produce in what makes us one of the go-to companies in the North West for Web Design Services.
Once you’re sure that your website is working perfectly, and you are happy with the user experience, it’s time for the final part of the web development process – the launch! For this to be successful, it unsurprisingly requires a little more than flicking a metaphorical ‘on’ switch.
At Gorilla Marketing we believe it’s important to have a launch strategy in place to maximise the website’s exposure. This strategy would typically include synchronizing the websites launch time with an effective communication campaign. This communication campaign should effectively let people know your new exciting website is about to go online, and that they’d be foolish to miss the experience.
After that, give yourself a pat on the back for all the hard work you’ve put into the web development process so far. However, don’t give yourself too much of a break, websites are almost like living entities and require constant maintenance and correction. Be vigilant for changes in your users viewing patterns and keep your website’s content relevant, authentic and updated!