Podcast: What Happens During a Professional Web Design Process?
Play the podcast above to listen or read the article below.
In this podcast episode, I give you a transparent behind-the-scenes look at my web design process. When you haven’t worked with a designer before, you may be wondering, what exactly are you paying for and why does it take several weeks to complete? Well, when you’re working with a professional Web Designer, it’s a one-on-one customized process, designed to fit your specific vision. With my clients, I’m very intentional about creating a process that’s easy to follow and that’ll provide clarity for the best possible experience.
For an analogy of what it’s like to work with a Web Designer, think of it like getting a custom car designed for you, instead of just buying one right off the lot. To get a custom car designed, it’s a much more extensive process than getting one off the lot because the car experts will be taking all of your unique preferences and needs into consideration. They may consider what features you want for the car, what speed does the car need to go for you, what colors/textures do you want in the interior or what color should the exterior be? Then, the expert will use that info to produce a finished product for you that’s unlike anything else out there.
That’s what happens with your website when you hire a Web Designer. The designer takes all of your needs and preferences into consideration and chooses custom colors, fonts, photos, and layouts and it’s all designed just for you from the ground up to give you a finished website that’s unlike anything else out there.
I started designing my very first website back in 2014, as a lifestyle blogger, by just using a random Squarespace template and popping in random photos and a generic logo. I found a random logo design website and got a cookie-cutter logo design done and put it in there. And I just hoped for the best. Little did I know that my website looked SUPER amateaur and didn’t live up to my potential…AT ALL.
But once I took web design classes, I improved it significantly! I was able to elevate my image to look like a lifestyle blogger who brands would want to work with and who others would want to collaborate with. I got a Web Design certificate to learn the basics and I took a Visual Design course to learn about user experience design and strategic layouts.
To go back to the custom car analogy, just putting random pics into an existing template is like getting a cookie-cutter car off the lot and adding some random “Hello Kitty” floor mats to make it unique.
When you get your web design done by an expert, they’ll be completing in-depth steps with you, all with the goal of making sure your website will appeal to your specific target audience, making sure it’ll help you reach your goals, and making sure it’ll be something you’ll love.
So, what exactly are these steps, you say? Let’s dive into it!
Step 1: The Consultation
For my very first step, I start with a free, no obligation, consultation via video call to get an understanding of the business, why the potential client is looking for a new website, and what they hope to accomplish with the website. Then, we chat a bit about brand design preferences. If they don’t have preferences yet, it’s totally ok because we can flesh that out when the project starts. Then, I overview my process so they’ll know what to expect. I recap at the end on what we’ll accomplish with the new website and on a potential start date for the project.
*Project Management: Once a client signs on with me, I give them access to the project management tool we’ll use to manage all the steps of their project in an organized way. I use Asana for this and it makes it super easy!
Step 2: The client completes their homework.
I know you may be thinking, what homework would I have to get a website designed?? This isn’t school! But hear me out. The homework is fun, actually! It helps my clients show me what they’ll prefer for their design style by creating a board in Pinterest with photos that speak to them. And they they also complete a questionnaire that goes into additional detail on their preferences. It’s important to me to know what clients want so I can create a finished website and branding that they will LOVE!
Step 3: I create the mood board, color palette, and logo.
This is where it starts to really get fun! The next step is for me to create the mood board and color palette. The mood board is what illustrates the look and feel that you’re going for on your website. I create two options and then the client chooses which one they like the best and they make requests on what they want changed. Then once it’s finalized, I design logo samples for them to choose from. They also get two revision options with those, so they’re sure to have a logo they’ll love!
Step 4: I create the client’s brand board.
The brand board is what will be used to define the brand design for the client’s business. It’s created based on the mood board, and it includes the logo, a logo variation, the color palette, font selections, any patterns that may be used (like stripes or polka dots or something), and your favicon/submarks. This is great because you’ll have all these elements available whenever you need any other items designed, like print materials. You can just present them with your brand board and they can create something that’ll match your existing branding. So easy!
Step 5: I create the client’s social media and email branding.
So they can have a cohesive brand everywhere online, the next step to create the social media and email branding for my clients, once the brand design is established. I create banners for Facebook, Twitter, and even YouTube, if they have a YouTube channel. I also create quote graphics that can be used for posting their own quotes on Instagram. And finally, I create email branding to include an email signature, banner, and any elements they may need for sending email newsletters. And as an added bonus for my package, I design a PDF for their email opt-in incentive. This is the free incentive that they’ll be providing to their audience so they can grow their email list.
Related: 5 Email Opt-In Incentive Ideas
Step 6: I create wireframes for each page that will be designed on the website.
Now that the branding is all done, it’s time to design the structure of the web pages. Think of the wireframe as the skeleton of your website, whereas the branding and actual content are the skin and clothes. (that’s the best analogy I could come up with *shrugs*) . But anyway, the wireframe basically consists of shapes like squares and rectangles to represent photos and lines to represent text, arranged on a blank page to show what the layout of each page will be. I take into consideration the importance of each item on the web page and the actions that they intend for users to take to design the layouts with a strategy. My clients then get to review those and make changes, according to their preferences.
Step 7: I create a mockup of the homepage in Photoshop.
Once the wireframes are finalized, I design a mockup of the website homepage in Photoshop. This is like a real life version of what the website will look like, but it’s not clickable…because Photoshop. LOL. But it shows the client what the website will look like before I put it online because they’ll be able to let me know if they approve it first. If they want any changes, I’ll make those changes and then proceed to the real website build! FINALLY!
Step 8: I design the final website.
I design the actual website in their website provider of choice to bring together the branding and wireframe structure. Then, once it’s all done and approved, we do a website walkthrough, I hand over the final files of all the branding elements, and they get access to my client portal to help them maintain their websites. And they also get a week of post-project support, at no extra cost.
And there you have it! The process of getting a customized website you’ll love created! As you can see, a designer will take their time with you to create a finished product like no other. It’s not a generic process…at all. And it’s all done with your specific needs and business goals in mind!
To learn more about my web design and branding services, click here.