A web designer’s main job is to design web pages. Simple enough, but thanks to technology it is anything but simple.
There is a lot to consider in the design of websites which may not be immediately apparent when looking at a web page for the first time.
A web designer is also a minor web developer, even though these roles have different job descriptions. All web designers must understand basic code and how feasible their creative skills will render on the web, on different browsers and now on mobile phones and seven different screen sizes.
The aesthetic aspect of web design has been shown to be a critical factor in keeping visitors’ attention on a homepage. Design matters. Graphics and images make a quick, first impression.
Web design involves selecting the appropriate colors, fonts, layout, images and functionalities such as eCommerce, forms, photo galleries, etc. The design in terms of color, font style and layout also needs to suit the target market of the business.
I work with many solo entrepreneurs and small business owners. For most of them this is their first online business, so the whole web development process is completely new.
Why is it so important for clients to understand this process?
Because a lot of time and resources will be required of you throughout the web design process. And, it will require a lot of planning. You will need to prepare for the following steps:
Step One: Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You…
First I’ll ask you to fill in a form so I can collect all the basic details. Your name, contact details, whether you need a brand new website or a redesign, your budget for the project, etc. Then I’ll schedule a call so we can discuss your needs in more detail.
Once I’ve decided I can really help you with your site, we’ll get to work on all the details: how many pages does your website need to have, and what needs to be on them. This is vital for determining the scope of a project. I can then begin thinking about how your visitors will move through your site, and how we’ll get them where you want them to go.
We’ll also discuss any special features your website needs to have. If you want to sell products, then you’ll need an online store. Maybe you’re trying to create an online community and need a forum and member login areas. I also recommend to clients at this point that they let me know any features they may want to implement in the future, even if they’re not ready for them yet.
Finally I’ll need all the technical stuff: login details for your hosting and domain name provider, access to your server, access to your Google Analytics account, and so on.
Now I’ll be able to prepare your contract, which will contain things like all the details we’ve agreed upon above, the project timeline, the costs and when payments will be due.
Step Two: The Design Stage
Before I can start designing your website, I’m going to need your website content. A lot of small business owners are dismayed by this, because they’re frequently not prepared for it, and it is without question the most time consuming part of the process for them.
Nonetheless, I need a basic outline and framework for each of the pages on the site. I can take the writing from there as I have been known to write an entire website from scratch with no input from the client! To avoid having to charge extra for editing, I prefer to get as much text content up front as possible.
I then need your logo and brand materials (i.e. any colors, fonts, and graphics you use to communicate your brand identity). Some clients don’t realise that a logo is not included as part of their website design, and haven’t budgeted for it at all.
Step Three: The Website Handover
So before I hand over the website, I ask you to go through all your website pages, checking their functionality. Obviously, I will have performed my own review before this, but websites are complex things and sometimes a fresh pair of eyes is needed to spot the less obvious issues.
Once you have signed off on the website, I will put in my request for final payment. Then I’ll push your site live, and give you any login details you need, so you will have full access to manage your website.
We’ll discuss how you can add pages, images, and text to your website, so you are able to make changes to your site without my assistance. We’ll also discuss who is going to be responsible for future updates and ongoing technical support, so if you ever run into any issues you know exactly who to call.
So now you know that web development is not a one-way street!
Your input during every step of the web development process is the key ingredient that ensures you get a website you can be proud of and that does everything you want.