STRATEGY & DESIGN
Effective design is a collaborative problem-solving process using navigation, appearance, and user experience
Web designers often think about the web design process with a focus on technical matters such as wireframes, code, and content management. But great design isn’t about how you integrate the social media buttons or even slick visuals. Great design is actually about having a website creation process that aligns with an overarching strategy.
An engaging combination of user interface (UI) design and user experience (UX) design is what draws people through the various elements of your site to the intended outcomes. Design guides your visitors’ behavior while interacting with your content, and is what will bring them back time and again — converting them from visitor to customer.
- Goal identification: Where I work with the client to determine what goals the new website needs to fulfill. I.e., what its purpose is.
- Scope definition: Once we know the site’s goals, we can define the scope of the project. I.e., what web pages and features the site requires to fulfill the goal, and the timeline for building those out.
- Sitemap and wireframe creation: With the scope well-defined, we can start digging into the sitemap, defining how the content and features we defined in scope definition will interrelate.
- Content creation: Now that we have a bigger picture of the site in mind, we can start creating content for the individual pages, always keeping search engine optimization (SEO) in mind to help keep pages focused on a single topic. It’s vital that you have real content to work with for our next stage:
- Visual elements: With the site architecture and some content in place, we can start working on the visual brand. Depending on the client, this may already be well-defined, but you might also be defining the visual style from the ground up. Tools like style tiles, moodboards, and element collages can help with this process.
- Testing: By now, you’ve got all your pages and defined how they display to the site visitor, so it’s time to make sure it all works. Combine manual browsing of the site on a variety of devices with automated site crawlers to identify everything from user experience issues to simple broken links.
- Launch: Once everything’s working beautifully, it’s time to plan and execute your site launch! This should include planning both launch timing and communication strategies — i.e., when will you launch and how will you let the world know? After that, it’s time to break out the bubbly.
Working collaboratively through the entire design process, making careful decisions based on your target audience, consumer data, research, and my expertise. Functionality drives the bus, paired with an attractive visual design and accessibility.
Design without strategy is just decoration. From typography and photography to what options people see in your navigation and how they access your menus on mobile devices — your web design has three major jobs to do
This is why effective web design is driven more by your audience and website data, SEO practices, and experience than it is by trends in creative and technology. What works for one brand might not work for your audience or your goals, and you can trust me to be honest and transparent when helping you make creative decisions.
Web design in action
My process is specifically designed to help take daunting task of planning, designing, and approving an entire website, and break it down into easily digestible deliverable. While separate information architecture, content, and UI/UX design into phases to help you focus on nailing each aspect of their web design.
- Goal identification: The initial stage is all about understanding how you can help your client.
In this initial stage, the designer needs to identify the end goal of the website design, usually in close collaboration with the client or other stakeholders. Questions to explore and answer in this stage of the design and website development process include:
- Who is the site for?
- What do they expect to find or do there?
- Is this website’s primary aim to inform, to sell (ecommerce, anyone?), or to amuse?
- Does the website need to clearly convey a brand’s core message, or is it part of a wider branding strategy with its own unique focus?
- What competitor sites, if any, exist, and how should this site be inspired by/different than, those competitors?
- This is the most important part of any web development process. If these questions aren’t all clearly answered in the brief, the whole project can set off in the wrong direction.
It may be useful to write out one or more clearly identified goals, or a one-paragraph summary of the expected aims. This will help to put the design on the right path. Make sure you understand the website’s target audience, and develop a working knowledge of the competition.
For more on this design phase, check out “The modern web design process: setting goals.”
Tools for website goal identification stage
- Audience personas
- Creative brief
- Competitor analyses
- Brand attributes