The modern web design process is where art, technology, and psychology meet and it evolves over time as new trends emerge. It is a mix of technical acumen, cognizance of HCD (Human-Centered Design), and an eye for art. If this process is executed well, your visitor’s attention and conversion to a customer will increase promptly.
“Your website is the center of your digital eco-system, like a brick and mortar location, the experience matters once a customer enters, just as much as the perception they have of you before they walk through the door.” — Leland Dieno, Digital Marketing Administrator at Agency Media
By focusing on your company’s purpose, the intent of your brand, and quality UX, you can build an appealing story to attract & maintain people’s attention. The key is to follow a process that aligns with the overarching strategy of your business. Good web design offers more than just intriguing aesthetics: it helps people to understand the product, company, and branding through a variety of indicators.
As there are 7 essential principles of web design towards creating that appeal, there is also a set process to implement those principles.
1. Goal Identification & Discovery
The initial stage where the designer and client meet to deeply understand the user’s problems and define the shared goals. Questions that come into play are:
- Who is the target audience?
- What should they expect to see when they arrive at our website?
- What is the primary purpose of the website?
- What message needs to be conveyed?
- What are the competitors doing, if there are any, and how should we differentiate?
- How will you measure these goals?
As you go over these things, it is important to document them. Just saying it isn’t enough; there has to be something to reflect on.
If you already have a website, then you can use these questions to analyze current performance and see where you might implement new solutions to enhance website traffic.
2. Scope Definition
After carefully identifying and discovering goals, you must then define the scope. A difficult thing to do at first — many ideas will seem interesting — but necessary to open a dialogue on what’s important to the project. This also helps you build a timeline.
This timeline should show how long each step in the process will take. Certainly, dates will shift as the process unfolds, but clear goals help set realistic, achievable deadlines. A well-defined timeline should include activities for features and web pages that need to be implemented within a certain range of time.
This phase is important to visualize with a chart or a spreadsheet. Seeing your milestones increases accountability. However, they must be achievable clear landmarks of when things can be completed, based on data.
3. Design Creation
Now the designing begins! This part is where the designer begins to brainstorm, building sketches, mood boards, wireframes, etc. with the goals and scope in mind. The designer generates some rough designs from early feedback from the client.
Developers are also engaged at this time. The developer needs to be sure they can build what the designer is suggesting. Depending on how intentional you were during steps 1 and 2, this stage may be fairly quick, or may involve multiple conversations between the designer, the developer, and the client.
As the process evolves, wireframes and other designs will go from Low to Mid to High Fidelity.
4. Code Implementation
Finally, the coding begins. The developer recreates the wireframes as conceived in step 4. Motion and styling become the nitty-gritty, with the designer adding UI changes and critiques on functionality.
5. Prototype Testing
Now it’s time to test the waters. Prototypes are used to conduct user research. Some questions to consider are:
- What do people like or dislike about this design?
- What buttons are being pressed first?
- Where does the attention of the user linger?
- How does the user handle certain tasks, such as finding FAQs or making a purchase?
- Does any part of the design or workflow confuse the user?
You can use a variety of tests such as the five-second test, click test, or A/B testing to answer these questions. Of course, you can also opt for a gradual rollout of features to collect real-time information.
6. Visual Modification
When all feedback has been received and processed, you can iterate on the design and construction. This is also a good time to check for bugs in the code that created unintended experiences for the user.
Remember, a good design process doesn’t end at your “final version!” Ultimately, your users will let you know if — and when — you’ve reached a “final version.” You may have to go through this process multiple times before arriving at a stable product that can maintain appeal over time.
It’s finally time to launch the new website. It’s an exciting time but still requires proper planning, so don’t break out the champagne just yet. Your project timeline from step 2 should indicate when the launch day will arrive. With all stakeholders involved, you should answer these questions:
- Are we ready to launch?
- What is our contingency plan if something goes wrong?
- How will we let the world know?
When everyone is aligned, click deploy and send her into the stratosphere! Make time to celebrate this milestone; everyone has worked hard for this moment.
There’s still more work to be done — the launch doesn’t mean the process is over!
8. Post-Launch/Consultation Continuation
Even after launch, the process continues. First, you may need to address any additional bugs or unexpected behavior now that your site is live. Second, the needs of your users will change over time, as will best practices in web design. Creating a roadmap of the potential future states of your website will help keep your company ahead of the curve.
Of course, don’t leave your client stranded! Stay involved and check back on progress. Make sure the goals you identified are being hit. If they are, great! If not, roll your sleeves up again to see what can be done. This is where you help them take that “Next Step.”
It’s a bit reductive to just say there is a confined number of steps to follow in web design. The process is circular, not linear and an iteration of feedback, needs identification, brainstorming, and implementation. Ensuring there is a design workflow where every stakeholder is aligned and moving collaboratively to meet milestones is pivotal to success!