The Stages of a Web Design Project
Published: September 2020
Web Design Project Stages
Whether you are considering investing your SME Restart and Recovery Grant in a new website or you are simply curious about what a web design project entails, this article is for you. We think it’s a good idea to get to know how web design works and what to expect from your web design agency, so you can ask the right questions and truly understand how a new website will affect your business.
A modern and responsive website is non-negotiable in this digital-obsessed world. From simple brochure sites that portray your services to fully-fledged eCommerce websites selling products, a website is by far the best way to elevate your offering and position yourself in front of your target audience in a professional manner.
Before you choose your next agency partner, let’s talk about the stages of an effective website design and development project:
The brief is the initial step that we, the agency, need to put together an appropriate proposal.
Many organisations will put out a tender for a web design agency to work on their next project, while other businesses will simply reach out to a few agencies for an informal conversation about their requirements.
As the client, you should consider your brief carefully. The more information you can give the agency, the easier it is to tailor the proposal to your requirements. Consider the following:
Who will use your website?
Is it for new and existing customers or is it more of an internal team for your staff to access necessary information and resources to progress in their roles? Difference users require different functionalities from a website.
How will they use your website?
Will you sell products online – and are these physical or digital products? If not, are you planning to explore your service offering or even link to a third party story or platform where your projects are hosted?
How will it help deliver your business goals?
Of course, a website is an absolute necessity for any business but it’s important we understand how this will fit into your business.
Do you expect it to drive revenue or will you share thought leadership content? There are so many reasons why your business needs a website – if you’re not sure about the answer to any of these questions, don’t worry.
Your agency will ask the right questions that help you find the answers. Even if every detail is not set in stone at the brief stage, it’s good to be as specific as possible from the outset.
Your agency will take everything they’ve learnt from the brief stage and come back with a bespoke pitch to help you turn your web design dreams into a reality. This should include an estimated price, timeframe and any additional resources they require from you (existing collateral, marketing data etc.)
If you don’t understand the full pitch or need a little clarification on why they included a certain aspect, make sure you ask the question now – any good agency will be happy to explain their decisions and processes behind the craft.
A wireframe is a site structure document that demonstrates where the pages will sit within the wider structure of the website. Your agency will create your basic wireframe with UX (User Experience) in mind, they understand how people use the internet and, therefore, can produce a wireframe that is intuitive and easy-to-use for any visitor, regardless of their device.
We use SiteFlow to demonstrate how the structure of your site will interact with the visual elements. At this stage, we can make significant changes to your site even before the first line of code is written.
For content-heavy websites, your agency may also design page-specific wireframes that display where images, text, buttons and other elements will appear. While this won’t incorporate any design elements as yet, it will still give you an idea about how the website will look including how easy it is for your visitors to enquire, buy a product, read your blog or carry out any other action.
Once you have approved the wireframe, your agency’s design team will start working on the visual side of your website. You might already have a brand, including logo and colour scheme, that you want to incorporate in your new web design, or you may want to start fresh with a new brand identity.
When you work with us at Urban River, our in-house design team can help tweak your brand or even redesign it from scratch to suit your company’s personality, goals and aspirations.
Once the design is complete, it may look like the website is done – but it is actually just a visual skin for a more complex layer sitting underneath. The development team works on the technical side of your website, including integrating the new visual elements into your shop and transforming your wireframe into a functioning reality.
Arguably the most critical stage of any web design project, the testing phase is vital to ensure your website works exactly how we intend it to before we launch it to the public.
Website testing is more than just clicking about the pages, it involves a deep-dive into the code, the UX and UI and the shop mechanisms if you have any. It’s better to identify any weaknesses now than to lose revenue from a broken link later on.
When your site is ready to launch, we’ll book in free-of-charge CMS training with key stakeholders in your organisation. We want to give you the tools you need to be able to update your website yourself, if you want to – if you’d rather we took care of it, then we will happily organisation website management package tailored to your needs.
When you launch a website, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, you have to remember that a new website doesn’t automatically mean an influx of new customers, you will have to share the site with your existing audience and give them time to get used to it.
Secondly, you may experience a temporary hit to your Google Rankings. This is why it’s vital to choose a web design agency that is well-acquainted with SEO and how that affects web design decisions. They will implement the required redirect protocols and media updates to ensure you quickly return to, and exceed, your position in the search results panel.