Web Design Process Stages for Building Value-Driven Websites

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In this article, we’ll walk you through a typical process we use to design websites for our clients. The website design process we use includes the following stages: Research & Discovery → Project Scope & Strategy → Sitemap → Wireframes → Design → Development → Launch → Measure & Analyze.

You will see how each stage is linked to the next. Each phase builds upon the previous one to ensure a successful project.

So even though all steps will be the same for all projects, they might deviate for different clients depending on the complexity of the project.

Each phase of the web design process is equally important — from the initial brainstorming stages to the final launch.

As a general rule of thumb, the process of developing design follows the same pattern and includes the stages that are listed in this guide. Even though the steps are generally the same for all projects, they may deviate for different clients depending on the complexity of the project. When working with each client, we take time to understand their needs and make sure our process is customized on an individual basis.

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Creating an effective website is never as simple as it seems. A successful design is more than simply making a website look attractive. It requires an understanding of the business, the purpose of the website, who are the users visiting the pages, and what they’re looking for. There are a number of questions you need to ask before starting a web design project.

There are various stages that need to be implemented in specific order to ensure that the final website achieves its goals.

So if you’re want to learn about the web design and development process and what it takes to create a successful website, this article will walk you through the various stages and explain what goes into each step.

1. Research & Discovery

Most of the clients we work with come to us through word of mouth or by requesting services on our website. We use a simple service request form to get basic information and to set up a discovery call. During this discovery call, we learn about their business, briefly discuss client goals and expectations and get the general feel about who they are to see if it might be a good fit.

After the discovery call, if we think we can help the client, and they’re interested in working with us, we send them a detailed web design project questionnaire where we ask deeper questions to learn in more detail about their business, target audience, and project goals.

After we receive the answers call we have a good idea about a business and what is needed to make the project a success.

In addition to answers we received, we also perform thorough research and try to learn as much as possible about the business, the industry it’s in, and its competition. We look for gaps within the market or industry to ensure we can achieve the goals we set

The discovery phase of building a website includes gathering information, learning about the client target market, and determining the goals of the project.

2. Project Scope & Strategy

After we fully understand the project and what’s required, we work on creating a plan and a way to execute it during the planning phase. During the project scope and strategy stage, we determine how many pages we need and what they are. Whether we should use a theme or the website needs to be a custom build. What features and plug-ins will be required. During this phase, we also provide an accurate quote and send the agreement with the scope and project timeline, so the client can review and sign off.

Finally, during the stage, after the client signs off, we set up a project using one of the popular project management tools. Depending on the size of a project and client preference, we use Trello, Asana, or Clickup, to better manage the project and to ensure it stays on track.

3. Sitemap

After we define the scope of the project and establish its goals, the next critical step is to build a sitemap. The sitemap is a visual representation of the site structure. Boxes are used to represent different pages of the website. Sitemap helps define the structure of the website, what pages will be required, as well as the menu elements to ensure clear navigation.

Web Design Process Stages for Building Value-Driven Websites 1
Sitemap example

4. Wireframes

After we determined the pages we need and how to navigate the website, we move on to wireframes. Wireframes are used to represent the layout of individual pages and what content will be used.

A wireframe is a visual guide used to illustrate the skeletal framework of a website and web pages. They communicate the site’s hierarchy, functionality and navigation and help envision how elements will relate to each other.

In addition to showing how the pages laid out, wireframes also used to show clients what content they will need to create, how much text, how many photos, graphics, and visual elements.

Web Design Process Stages for Building Value-Driven Websites 2
Wireframes example

5. Web Design & Styling

After wireframes are completed and approved, we can move to the visual design. The design phase includes the creation of visual mock-ups and the styling of elements that will make up the design of the website. During this stage, we create a brand style guide, select fonts, and design visual elements that are consistent in style.

The process of designing can be done either on a live site or through static mock-ups using tools such as photoshop and illustrator.

6. Web Development

After the client approves the design, it’s on to the build. We mostly work with WordPress content management. After testing various content management systems, we settled on using WordPress as our main platform for developing the websites. It’s user-friendly, easy to update, and is well-suited for SEO optimization.

During this stage, we find and set up the theme, install necessary plugins and website features that were defined during the discovery stage. We also build out the actual pages using sitemap and wireframes that were completed during the previous step of the design process.

Typically, we build a homepage first, then move onto other pages. We use wireframes and design mock-ups as references when building out the pages. During this stage, we also incorporate the content provided by clients.

When we come to the end of this phase, we have a fully functional website that is ready to be reviewed by the client.

7. Testing & Launch

After we complete the development and perform thorough testing, we let the client go through the website and check everything on their own. Our testing involves reviewing content for spelling and errors, checking the website performance and how it looks on a variety of devices, etc.

After the testing has been completed and the client is fully satisfied, it’s time to make the website live.

8. Measure, Analyze and Revise

After the successful launch, the work is not done. We use marketing and analytics tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, as well as user feedback to make necessary updates and adjustments. Depending on what services clients request, we may continue working on the project, helping with maintenance or assisting with SEO strategy, content creation, and inbound marketing.

So this is what a typical step-by-step design and development process looks like. As you can see, designing a website is never as simple as it seems. The web design process must follow specific stages in order to ensure the final website looks great, is easy to navigate, and achieves its main goals.

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    About Author: Gene is the co-founder of both Big Apple Media and Happy Website Design. He shares his expertise on SEO, digital marketing, web design and development. He also created and manages Creative Web Design & Digital Marketing Group on LinkedIn. Join to learn more about these topics.

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