Do you find the idea of new website design to be an intimidating process or get bogged down by all the design terminology used by professionals in the field? Do you want to know more about the design process in general? Is your site in serious need of a redesign and you don’t know where to start? If the answer was yes to any of the above questions, Phases Design Studio can help you design a stellar and effective website for your business.
Do you need a new website?
We looked through the websites we’ve launched over the past two years, and here are the most common justifications for launching a new website. We looked at what the client called us in for, what we implemented for them, and benefits they received from the process.
- Necessary updates or technology enhancement that an existing site did not support.
- Outdated branding and/or visuals/design
- High traffic, but low conversion rates
- User complaints about the website function (specifically with online stores/e-commerce sites).
- No prior website/new company or product launch.
A New Website Design vs. Updating an Existing Site
When someone says they need a new website design, we first need to clarify if it’s really a new website, or if we’re updating an older site to give it a fresh look and updated features. The difference is slight but important.
A New Website Design…typically means we’re scrapping the old site (if there was one) and starting completely from scratch.
- Important note: For an existing website, the number one priority should be to retain all existing SEO efforts including rankings from keyword optimization in order mitigate any damage that could result from Google re-indexing your new site and wondering where your old pages went to.
A Website Update… typically means we are retaining the existing site structure while updating only some visual components and backend functionality.
- The critical need here is to understand how the updates impacted existing site functionality. You don’t want to end up breaking what was working in the process of updating. A good example is updating a site to responsive design – make sure that the mobile styles work in conjunction with the existing desktop styling.
When’s the right time to hire a web designer for your site?
Ideally, you’ll hire a web designer right from the start. Including the design and development team in the site planning can help you avoid having to rethink the site strategy based on available technology and user interface best practices.
At a minimum, your site will need to reflect your business brand, be geared toward your audience, be mobile friendly, simple to maintain, connect with social media, show results, be flexible for your needs and current technology, and be a tool to generate leads and customers.
As with hiring anyone to help you make your business shine, finding the right web designer means knowing exactly what you want. Understanding what you want to get out this business relationship, and being clear up front about your expectations, will ensure that the process goes smoothly and both parties end up happy with the result.
If you’re wondering what you should be asking and trying to pinpoint what you need out a web design team for your new website, check out this article that includes a checklist for hiring a web designer.
The Web Design Process
Once you hire a web designer you trust, the web design process begins. There are several important steps to ensure the design and development of the site go smoothly.
1: Planning and defining your goals/expectations.
You want to list all the design features you need for your business to be successful. Will you need an online store that allows different payment options? Specific widgets to help your customers connect with you? Jot down a list of features that you want and need for your project.
- Keep in mind that you need to know the difference between things you need and things you want. Some of those bells and whistles come with a hefty price tag and long-term maintenance. That list will be instrumental in a successful site design process.
2: Defining Your Project Scope
What pages and features will be required to meet the goals you created in step one? This is where you and your team should build a timeline of development and have a list of required pages or site areas.
- Budget-friendly tip: one of the wonderful things about a website is that it’s a website! You can change it, updated, and add functionality to it after the initial launch. Many businesses that we work with do not have the initial budget for every item on their wish list. We work with them to build a foundation that can get them online now, and allow them to add new features after the site starts to generate new revenue for their business.
3: Crafting User Interface and Navigation
Your site should be an interweaving entity that is efficient and easy to navigate. The way you do that is with the third step: sitemap and wireframe creation. The content and features you chose in step one will need to interrelate. Clearly defining the site’s layers in the begin will help the designer to create a navigation system that is clear and intuitive for the end user.
4: Creating Content
Content creation is the heart of your site. You’ll want a single objective or topic per page with a single call to action. You will also need to create copy with the reader AND search engines in mind. Investing some time figuring out what will appeal to your audience is a key component to the success of your content.
- Site launch tip: Get your content handled first to ensure a successful site launch. Hiring a professional copywriter is highly recommended as they will have the skills necessary to craft effective content and an understanding of how search engines will index and “read” the content. And, the number 1 delay in site launches is waiting for the content.
5: Site Design and Development
Once the planning is completed, and the content creation started, the design and development team will start implementing. Depending on how simple or complex your site is this process can take anywhere from a few weeks to months. You can expect weekly updates from your team ranging from design proofs to demo’s and betas of any custom functionality throughout the process. A quality team will have a project timeframe for you outlining what to expect along the way and keep you updated on site launch.
- Tip: Test everything, and test it again. Your design team should use manual browsing and automated site crawlers to identify user experience issues, broken links, errors, and more. Every update thereafter should also have a testing phase.
- Tip: Don’t forget about Google! As mentioned earlier in the article, if you are launching a site to replace an old site, be sure to work with a qualified team that understands how websites are indexed by search engines to ensure that your new site doesn’t damage your existing ranking and traffic from search engines.
If you’re thinking about a site redesign or building a new site for your business, make sure to download our free business owner’s checklist to hiring a web designer and explore our top tips for launching a successful business website design.