Having a website designed and created by a team who has a clear understanding of the website design process is essential in developing the best possible online presence for yourself or your business. When people think of web ‘design’, they tend to think of a websites’ aesthetics and how it looks when in fact the term goes way beyond the physical look of a website. In this article, we hope to help those who may not have as much knowledge about website design gain a better understanding of just what is involved in the creation of a website.
Stage 1 – Gather Information
The first step in the process is gathering as much information about the objectives of a website. This usually starts with a meeting between a client and the designer to find out everything they are looking to achieve with their website. For example, if the website was for a business, the designer would find out as much about the company as they could. They would find out what kind of services they offer, have a look at their existing website if one exists, and gather information on the style of website the client is looking to have whether it be corporate, fun and quirky or some other style.
Also included in this stage is analysing competitors websites to see what information they are displaying and to see if you could do anything better. This is important, especially for a business, as you want to be able to show customers a clear comparison between yourself and the competitor.
Stage 2 – Design
They next stage is designing the architecture and the look of the website based on all of the gathered information from stage 1. This includes mapping out the structure of the website using a sitemap. A sitemap defines the main pages and sub-pages of the website which is used as a guide on what content will be featured on the website. The sitemap is also essential in providing a clear understanding of the navigational system that will be used. The titles used for the pages is especially important when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO is the term given to the process of optimising web pages for search engines such as Google.
In this stage, a prototype of the website will also be created to allow the client to see how the finished website will look online. Once the design of a website is completed, it is presented to the client who then provides feedback on it. This gives the client the opportunity to say what they like and what they don’t like. The designer then changes the design based on this feedback and this process continues until the client is happy to go to the development stage.
Stage 3 – Development
After the design has been approved by the client, the website can then enter the development stage. This stage is the actual creation of a website. The technologies used in creating the website are very dependent on the purpose. For example, a large website which features a shop usually requires constant updating and this has to be considered by the developers when deciding on what technologies to use for the website.
Typically there are 2 types of web developer that work together on a project; back-end developers and front-end developers. The back-end developers take care of all the intimate workings of a website. The front-end developers are in charge of making sure the website looks like the design. The front-end developers also decide on the animations and interactive elements to use in the website. This process is all directed towards improving the user’s experience.
When developing the website, the developers also have to be sure to comply with current web standards. This includes demonstrating the best practices and making sure they are using the correct semantic formatting for SEO.
This stage is also used to make a website responsive for all mobile devices. With mobile internet use now exceeding desktop use, this step is extremely important and must be executed effectively. Generally, how a website translates onto mobile devices should be considered when designing the website in stage two.
When the designer is happy that the website looks and works as it should, a link will be made available for the client to view the website. As with the design stage, the client will provide feedback and the developers will change accordingly.
Stage 4 – Testing & Launch
The testing stage is one of the most important stages. This involves analysing every page of the website on the most common screen sizes including desktop and mobile devices to make sure everything works and looks as it should. In this stage, any errors will be fixed and the final details will be added to the website.
When the developers are happy that no errors exist and when the client is happy to do so, the website can then be launched.
Stage 5 – Maintenance
Just because a website has been launched, it doesn’t mean that the process is over. There will always be updates that are required in terms of the content and technologies and there may be errors that naturally occur on a website. Our ethos here at Page North is that your website is never finished. We become a digital partner to all of our clients. This means that we are only a phone call or an email away to make a change to your website and this means your website is always at the top of the game.
So there it is, the 5 stages of web design. Hopefully now you have a better understanding of exactly what goes into creating a website.