The Website Design Process
Planning your website
To plan and organize your site effectively, you must do much more than determine what the site will look like and where the files will go. You need to examine the site goals and audience profiles. Additionally, you should consider your site’s navigation scheme. Careful planning before you begin site development will save you a great deal of time later.
Determine your site goals Ask yourself or your client questions about the site, and write down your goals so that you remember them as you go through the design process. A list of goals helps you focus and target your website to your particular needs. The complexity of your goals affects the navigation, the media that you use, and even the appearance of your site. For example, the look and navigation of a website devoted to archeology news should be very different from that of a website devoted to selling appliances.
Decide who your audience is This step may seem unnecessary, because most people want everyone to visit their website. Still, it is difficult to create a website that every person in the world can use. People around the world use various browsers, connect at various speeds, may or may not have media plug-ins, and use various types of devices to view Internet content. Because all these factors affect who uses your site, determining your target audience is a crucial step during the initial planning phase.
Conceptualize the site’s navigation scheme The site navigation scheme is a map that shows how your web pages relate to one another. Specifically, it shows how users travel through your site as they click links and interact with application interfaces. After sketching your site navigation, you can present the preliminary plan to your client or to members of your group.
Phase One: Gather Information
The first step in designing a successful website (or printed piece) is to gather information. Many things need to be taken into consideration when we design the look of your site, so we first ask a lot of questions to help us understand your business and your needs in a web site.
Certain things to consider are:
Phase Two: Planning
Using the information gathered from phase one we put together a plan for the web site. Here we develop a site map – a list of all main (topic) areas of the site, as well as sub topics (if applicable). This is also the point where we decide what technologies should be implemented – interactive forms, e-commerce, etc.
Phase Three: Design
Drawing from the information gathered up to this point, we determine the look and feel of the site. Target audience is one of the key factors taken into consideration. We also incorporate elements such as the company logo or colors to help strengthen the identity of your company in the site.
Phase Four: Development
This is where the web site itself is created. We take all of the individual graphic elements from the prototype and use them to create the actual, functional site. We also take your content and distribute it throughout the site, in the appropriate areas. During this process we work closely with our clients to insure that the message stays on target.
Phase Five: Testing and Delivery
At this point, we test things such as the complete functionality of forms, any compatibility issues (viewing differences between different browsers), making sure all submit forms work as planned, databases function properly, and, if applicable, make sure all e-commerce settings function properly.
After launching the site, we again test the site’s functionality in live operation. This marks the official launch of your site, as it is now viewable to the public.
If contracted, this is the point when we optimize the site for search engine positioning (either organic or pay-per-click), and submit the site to major selected search engines.
Phase Six: Maintenance
The development of your site is not necessarily done, however. We offer maintenance packages at reduced rates, based on how often you anticipate making changes or additions to your site, as well as ongoing search engine optimization monitoring and maintenance.