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Presenting ideas, products and content compellingly online involves intensive research and outlining a smart strategy. For both beginners and professionals alike, staying up-to-date on the latest branding, marketing and web design methods are a must to deliver a polished and engaging site.
HOW University Instructor David Holston gives the best website design tips in his online design course, Managing a Web Design Project from Start to Finish. The below snippet from his course explains how to approach planning to develop a fruitful website. Find out about the first five stages (out of eight) of the web design process.
The First Five Phases of the Web Design Process:
The Web design process is not unlike other communication processes. If you are familiar with developing a creative brief, a public relations plan, a communication plan or a new product, the phases will look very familiar. The phases of the Web design process include the following steps.
- Project Definition:
Organizations have a need to communicate to stakeholders their positions on issues and make audiences aware of their products and services. Many times the communication need, such as a Web site, is triggered by a change of strategic direction or a new offering. Identifying the reasons of the site’s existence and what it is supposed to achieve are the first step in the process. The goals and objectives that are established at the outset of the project inform all future decisions, from site structure and naming conventions used in the navigation to the visual design of the site.
- Project Scope:
Defining the scope of the project is a critical step. One of the most common frustrations with Web projects is scope creep. By creating a well-defined project scope plan that outlines specific activities and deliverables, along with specific timelines, you will be able to clearly set expectations for your clients. One of the most common ways of tracking Web projects is through the use of a Gantt chart (try Tom’s Planner or Wrike). A Gantt chart not only outlines major activities but also the tasks associated with each activity and start and end dates. The Gantt chart provides a visual reference for the team, showing the timeframe of each step and the dependencies between steps. The Gantt chart also creates accountability between the Web team and the client (which could be an outside client or simply your boss), letting the client and the team know that the delivery schedule is dependent on everyone hitting their marks; if someone misses a date by a day, the schedule shifts by a day.
- Wireframes and Site Architecture
Site architecture includes the sitemap and wireframes of pages. Creating the sitemap ensures that you’ve considered all the key pages in the site, showing their relationship to each other and defining how the sties overall navigation should be structured. Wireframes provide a detailed view of the content that will appear on each page. Although they do not show any actual design elements, the wireframes provide a guide for defining content hierarchy on the page.
- Visual Design
Once the blueprint for the site has been defined through the creation of the sitemap and wireframes, the next step is to create a visual style. The overall visual style will most likely be determined by the visual brand of the organization; the goal being to connect the Web with all other forms of the organization’s communications. The organization’s brand plays an important role in this part of the process, as designers will want to visually convey key brand perceptual ideas within the design.
- Site Development
With designs approved, it’s time to flesh out the design of the pages, develop new content and refine old content, create videos, slideshows, podcasts and other media that will appear on the site as well as start to build out the HTML and CSS of the site.
To learn more about the phases on web design, register for David’s online course, Managing a Web Design Project from Start to Finish.
4 Resources to Help You in the Website Design Process:
HOW Design University offers in-depth courses on web and interactive design. Click here to see all the course offerings.
by Stefan Mischook
Build Your Website Now! By Stefan Mischook has everything you need and more, covering not only the planning and development stages of website building, but maintenance and visibility components, like search engine optimization and promotion, as well. Utilizing concise explanations, clear illustrations, and a plethora of useful and memorable tips, this web design book has everything you need and more to help you create and maintain a quality website.
by Alannah Moore
The Creative Person’s Website Builder is that everything-in-one tool you need to get your site up and running the way you want it to. Using WordPress, it takes you quickly and rigorously through the process of setting up a website, giving you tips and hints to improve your style choices and create the look you are aiming for. And, to give you the best chance at grabbing an audience, the latest search-engine optimization and social-media techniques are explored.
by Paul Boag
This 1-hour webcast proposes a different model for building websites, one where the web designer and client work in a collaborative relationship. Where the client is at the heart of the process. After watching this webcast you will build better sites, projects will be more satisfying and clients will be happier.
Learn to gain the respect of you clients and be treated as an expert, how to improve the way you communicate with design clients, and how to save time and money by educating clients about best practices.
by Patrick McNeil
The Web Designer’s Idea Book eBook is an instant access PDF filled with over 700 gorgeous yet functional websites that are sure to ignite amazing ideas. The examples in this book are were deemed the best examples from author Patrick McNeil’s blog, DesignMeltdown.com.
This book chooses to do one thing so that it can do that thing incredibly well, and that is showcase beautiful websites to inspire ideas and spark creativity.
For more website designs inspiration, check out PRINT’s article 10 Brand-Centric Website Designs.