Designing and building a website is a process that doesn’t only involve your time in designing a pretty site and building it. There are a few steps along the way that help deliver a final piece that makes me and the client proud. And I say ‘me and the client’ because in any project I make sure my client is an active and an important part of the process, because at the end of the day it’s THEIR website that I am helping become a reality.
Having a clear process in place not only helps me explain to the client what are all the steps to follow, but also get them excited about the opportunities to bring their ideas and requirements to life. I also know exactly where I’m going to need their participation so they can get ready to do their homework.
This first meeting can be done in person or online (Skype, Hangouts, etc). We talk about the client business, project goals, requirements, why they need a new website or a redesign for an existing one, etc.
This first meeting is very important because it also helps me and the client to see if we are a good fit. And I say a ‘good fit’ because this process will makes us work together for a few weeks, and we are not just a service provider during the process, we are a team working together to create a website that truly reflect their business values and goals.
After this meeting we create a Project Proposal & Quote, in which we describe the project process, an estimated timeline, and a breakdown of costs. When the client approved this proposal we can move forward.
“Client and designers are a team working together to create a website that truly reflect their business values and goals”
Research / Moodboard
Market Research – Here I gather as much information as possible regarding the client’s field, competitors, audience, etc. This helps me understand what they do and who we are trying to reach. Understanding their market will give our design a voice, with the perfect look and feel; after all, creating a website is not just having a beautiful online presence, it’s about bringing brand awareness/presence, revenue and business leads.
Moodboard – Another part of the research is about the look and feel of the website, as designers we can create different designs of what we think it would look good, but our job is to translate what the client wants. We need to know what they expect, what kind of style they like and also check if the style aligns with the website goals and purposes. In case they have no idea what they want, as sometimes happens, this moodboard will help them find ideas and inspiration. To research the clients taste and expectations we create a ‘secret’ Pinterest Moodboard. Pinterest makes it so easy to create boards and share it with our clients; it’s just a click of a button, and we both can start browsing the web and pinning inspiration. This moodboard also allows us to share ideas, make comments on pins and show the client different styles that we think will enhance the design. It’s all about teamwork.
Once we have a clear idea of our client taste and the style they are after we start creating (Yay!). This is probably one of my favourite part of the process. I use Illustrator to create my mockups, because is my go-to software for all things graphic. I skip the wireframe stage that other designers make, because for me the mockup have both the structure of the website (sections, flow, CTAs, etc) and the design on it, so the client can see how the website actually is going to look like. I usually create a couple of mockups for the client to pick their favorite, and I follow the client brand guidelines (if there is any) or I can propose new colours and fonts if needed.
Creating a mockup makes my job also much more easy and quick when I start the building stage, because I know exactly what I need to do. And it’s also great for the client because they can see the design before the site is built and they can make changes if they want.
When the client is happy with the design mockup I can start building the actual website. I build my websites using WordPress and the premium DIVI Theme, from Elegant Themes. I LOVE using Divi because it’s super powerful and flexible, it’s also very easy for my clients to learn how to use. I set up all the requirements we agree on from the proposal document and I present to the client. Here they can go through the site, ask for some minor changes and testing that everything is working OK.
Before or after launch I have a training session with the client and I show them how to login, make content updates, upload photos, etc, so they can manage the website themselves. I show them all the different areas behind the website and I make sure they feel comfortable using WordPress. I have a lot of experience on training sessions, as in my previous job I have to do training all the time for all kind of people.
Having a clear process set up and using the right tools, helps so much to keep the ball rolling smoothly in any project. Of course, communication and a good relationship with the client are also vital to ensure we are creating a website we are both proud of. With the years I have found that every client is unique and every project might need different timelines or final objectives, but the overall process is basically the same for everyone, and knowing this process well makes the whole process flow nice and smoothly, and that’s great for everyone.
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