Nailing the design process is extremely important when building a website.
The word ‘design’ may not be enough to cover exactly what we normally included during this process.
Our design work usually covers:
- Page Designs
- Additional Assets
- Email Templates
The most essential of these is easily the Branding and Page Designs.
Let’s talk about why.
Before we can even begin to correctly design the visual layout of the websites pages, we need to understand our customers brand. Here is when the lines of being ‘website developers’ and ‘business consultants’ starts to blur.
If we don’t have a solid understand of who the business is, the voice they are trying to project, who their target audience is, and what they are trying to say, we are going to have a hard time hitting the mark.
This process starts with a questionnaire to get some initial feedback followed by a review of that with the customer. During that time our designer is asking additional questions to deep dive into the personality of the business.
Once we have a clear idea of that brand and market, we can start designing assets.
Note: This branding exercise is also important to have to nail the page content.
It’s often the case that the business we are working with has a logo already.
We do have to occasionally take our customers through this process though, all of which is informed directly by the early Branding exercises.
Our plan of attack for this looks like:
- Branding exercise
- Hand Drawn Sketches
- Black/White computer design
- Color computer design
- Final Design
- Brand Guide
Logos can be anything from a specific font and the name of the company (think Google), to a custom graphic that represents the brand (think Apple).
For us to get this right, it’s important that the business has a clear vision for who they are and who their market is. Without that it can be more challenging to get the right fit.
This is where things start to get a little more fun.
Getting through the branding exercise can be tedious. Some of the information we try to pull from our customers may be things they have not thought about previously, and need some time on the drawing board to figure it out.
Moving into page designs, we’ll have that clear vision for what we should build.
Using the branding guide and the ‘text wire frames’ that are put together during the Discovery & Sitemap steps, the designer can then being to bring the pages to life.
We normally start with the Home Page first.
This gives us a chance to define the header, footer, and make sure we are showcasing our most important website content.
Once that has been approved, knocking out additional page designs (Services, Products, Team, Blog, etc) becomes a little easier as we will be working inside an existing header and footer design.
After a few initial image exchanges to make sure we are headed in the right direction, we load every page design up into a tool called Notism. This tool allows the user to click anywhere on the image and create a note.
By doing this, the customer and our team can note any change requests, outline specific functionality, and eventually approve of the final design.
We can then use these files and notes as our Functional Document to deliver to the development team.
Throughout a website we will need different graphics and assets.
These can be provided by the customer, or we can work together to create them.
A few assets that regularly come up:
- Call to Action Graphics
- Info Graphics
- Product Banners
A call to action requires that the user sees the call. Including eye catching imagery will make it much more likely that they see that.
Info graphics are a great way to display and explain a process in your business, or walk a user through some statistical data points.
Instead of using plain grey buttons for everything, we can style them for consistency using the branding guide.
Product images and banners can be created specific for the product page, or as an advertisement for something on other pages.
While giving the website an overhaul, we should also take a look at your other marketing platforms to make sure they are up to date.
Easily the best way to stay in touch with your own customers, email is the first place we should look.
Repurposing assets created for the website into your email template helps keep the brand consistent.
Having great Photography on your website will take it from zero to hero. Distorted, pixellated, or generally bad photography keeps the website from looking professional, and the end user from taking the business seriously.
We help source stock images when necessary, and even photographers for head shots, location shots, product shots, etc.
A full branding experience, with logo, and page designs, can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks. It should be an exhaustive process that makes it extremely clear who we are, and who we are trying to reach.
After this step is complete, it’s time to start implementing some of these designs into an actual working website.
It’s time to step into Development!