Our web design process
How our web design process helps you
You’ll learn lots of fancy terms when web agencies describe their web design process. From ‘agile’ to ‘waterfall’, or even the horrid ‘wagile’, agencies love to talk about how their clever process, streamlines the workflow, ensuring an efficient development process, saving you time and money, blah, blah, blah.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying it’s a load of waffle. For complex bespoke web development projects or any other type of app or software development, an agile process and working in “sprints”, can be really helpful to ensure rapid development and keep things on track.
Here’s the deal though – For small business websites, the structure and functions are often similar and the budget for bespoke software development is limited. That’s why OUR process takes the linear, ‘waterfall’ approach, albeit with a little more flexibility to allow some elements to be worked on in tandem where beneficial. We like to get your input and feedback throughout the project but keep the process simple so that it’s not a burden on your time. This allows us to manage studio time and key sign-offs efficiently, meaning we can keep your project to the agreed budget and schedule.
Read on to see what’s involved in designing a website for your business that will perform.
The first stage in our web design process – your aims. What do you want from your website? Would you like it to generate leads, sell products, or perhaps just inform? It’s vital to have an objective for your website. Without an objective, how can you know if it’s succeeding?
Once we know your goals for the site we need to know where your current one’s at. We start with a website audit. This always highlights the problems with a website – typically poor site structure, content gaps, duplicate content, slow page speed and lack of mobile responsiveness, to name but a few. If you need some help and advice we offer a free website consultation. Come in and see us and we’ll review your site and talk through your plans. Once we know the site’s current issues and what you want it to do, we can get started on a plan.
This is where we tell you what we recommend you need, how long we think it will take, what your involvement is, and how much to budget. To get an idea of for what to budget, you can read our website price guide, or request our website bundles price sheet. Once agreed, and the deposit/set-up fee is paid, we’ll secure your studio slot and get started!
With scope and budget agreed, we can start in earnest. At this stage in our web design process, we research competitors and keywords, refine the brief and put in place the schedule. We look at who your website users are and what their needs are. For complex websites, where budget allows, we would hold a user persona workshop, to make sure all typical users needs are catered for. These complex and bespoke sites will also require user journeys to be considered as part of the user experience design (UX design).
After the keyword research and our audit of your existing content, we are ready to put together our proposed sitemap. This is the plan for the filing system of your site. We map out what pages are top-level pages and what content will be housed in ‘child’ pages or ‘grand-child’ pages. It’s important to search engines and users that the site is logically laid out and easy to follow, with no duplicate pages and a consistent structure.
For standard sites, we can skip this stage and move directly to design and build. With more complex websites, wireframing and prototyping is a vital stage in the web design process. It helps ensure good user experience, and we take UX and UI design very seriously at 39steps – there’s nothing worse than a hard to navigate website!
Now the site and page structures have been agreed, we can get on with the exciting design phase, where we ensure your website will look sharp, on-brand and appeal to your target audience. At this stage, we look into colour and font choices, heading styles, button styles, icon and navigation design. Take a look at our folio for web design inspiration. We usually create a style tile first, which is a bit like a mood board for your site. Once the style tile has been approved, we can then go on to develop key page visuals, to ensure design consistency throughout the website. At this stage, we can supply you with word counts to help you when writing your page content and give it the best chance of fitting the page template.
Now it’s time to pull this all together. At this stage in the web design process, we’re applying the design theme, building modules and forms and fleshing out the prototype with your content, where agreed. Once this is complete, we’re very close to launching but we’re not there quite yet!
Once your website has been built it’s time for us to do some testing. We test throughout the project but do a quality assurance at this stage, where we check that the site displays correctly on the main devices and browsers. Tweaks will be made to improve usability and performance. Now, all that’s left to do, is make sure you know how to edit your shiny new site, keeping it up-to-date and relevant.
Before your site goes live, we like to make sure you know how to edit your content and add new content to your site. CMS (Content Management System) training is included in all of our website projects and varies from a simple 1 hour Skype session for 1 person to a half-day on-site training session for multiple website administrators. It depends on the complexity of your site and how many of your team are involved. We actively encourage clients to input much of the final content into their own site themselves as part of the training.
Before we launch, we give your site the best chance of appearing in search engine results. We’ll optimise the meta titles and descriptions for key pages of your website to ensure the best chance of click through from the search engine results pages. It’s also a great time to set-up any redirections that are required to ensure you don’t lose vital domain authority from broken links. We also set-up Google Analytics and Tag Manager at this stage to make sure your website will be as ready as possible for search engine optimisation. Right – now it’s ready to launch!
Woo-hoo, it’s time to launch that fancy new site! You probably want to show it to everyone right away. After all, it’s a massively important sales and marketing tool and the first port of call for information on your business. BUT WAIT! After going live on our secure cloud platform, it’s much better to leave it a week before promoting your site. It can take a few days for your site to propagate across the world wide web and by crawled and indexed by the search engines. Give it time to ensure your security certificate is working and your redirects are all in place before you start shouting about how fantastic it is. Once it’s settled in, we’d recommend using your social media channels and a friendly email to your clients to direct them to your new website and start to build some traffic.
Sit back, give yourself a pat on the back. Your new website is live and launched! It’s looking great, functioning perfectly and should be set to help you achieve your goals. Don’t relax for too long though – nothing stays still in the world of the internet! If you don’t keep on top of routine maintenance your website will slip down the search rankings, become a security risk and could break, causing frustration to clients and potential clients alike. To keep your site tip-top, there are plenty of routine tasks that are prudent to keep on top of. Our website support bundle and SEO bundles exist so you don’t need to worry. You may also be keen to proactively drive more of ‘the right’ traffic to your new website. Let us help with your digital marketing strategy and implementation.
Do you provide the content?
We believe no-one knows your business better than you. That’s why we prefer it when you provide the words and pictures for your site. However, we do a number of things to make this easier for you…
1. We have access to thousands of stock images, videos and animations at very reasonable fees, usually just a few pounds each. We’ll send you links for you to search and choose them.
2. We use GatherContent, a handy app that provides an easy place where you can manage your words and pictures, ready for us to put them on your new site
3. If you need bespoke copywriting, photography, animation, video, or graphics – just ask and we’ll arrange an estimate.
Do I need a support package?
We don’t recommend having a website without support. If you’re planning to have a website that attracts traffic and generates leads or sales, then it will require a consistent marketing effort and must be kept up-to-date with the latest security. This means your site should have support in place, whether you use this for minor tweaks, security updates, or for additional CMS training. Our website bundles roll in support and hosting into one handy monthly bill, which also includes the cost of designing and building your site.
How much do websites cost?
Can I sell online?
Can you get me on the first page in Google?
Your 39steps website will be designed from the outset with search engine users in mind. Once it’s up and running we can manage on-going search engine optimisation for you. The parameters are constantly changing and there are no guarantees. Learn more about our SEO bundles.
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Let’s discuss YOUR project and see which bundle suits you best.