Website Design Process: 5 Tips For Success
The biggest mistake in the website design process is rushing to complete the design and failing to respect the process. Whether you don't understand the process or simply are rushed by external circumstances, taking the time to complete your website design is critical in its success.
Failing to carefully plan out the requirements of each step in the website design process results in lost time and rework down the line. We're sharing tips on how to save time and energy when it comes to optimizing your website design.
5 Tips For A Successful Website Design Process
Optimize your website design in the most efficient way by including these 5 tips in your website design strategy:
- Set goals at the beginning
- Develop a strategy
- Lay the foundation with a sitemap
- Consider the aesthetic elements
- Test, & test some more
Set Goals At The Beginning
This might sound like common sense, but the first step in designing your website is to sit down with key stakeholders and determine what your project's primary goals are. Then, develop a strategy around these goals.
When setting goals, it can be tempting to just say “generate more revenue” or “increase sales.” Try to think about how this new website will accomplish these goals. We recommend you set SMART goals to improve your site.
Consider your audience and their needs. Laying out the needs of your audience early on in a formal document will help to ensure that the site is designed to meet them.
Develop A Strategy
After setting goals, it's time to develop a strategy. Defining benchmarks is critical in understanding your starting point and measuring the growth of your website. Take advantage of Google Analytics. It's free, intuitive, and an easy tool to begin setting performance benchmarks.
Additionally, consider your website's SEO strategy. How is your site performing in organic and paid search? Develop and implement strategies to rank in search results and increase traffic to your site.
You may also want to review the presence of your competitors online. Depending on your needs this can be a formal audit of the competition or just a heuristic analysis. The goal is to identify both what your competitors are doing well, and what they are not doing well.
Lay The Foundation With A Sitemap
Regardless of your site’s purpose or audiences, the foundation of a successful site is a positive user experience, meaning that it is easy and intuitive to use, informative, and visually pleasing.
When developing a new site or redesigning an old one, use a sitemap to easily understand navigational structure. A sitemap is a visual representation of all the major pages of a site, including sub-pages. A sitemap demonstrates the relation of all pages to each other and provides an opportunity to think through the organization of content on your site.
Taking the time to fully vet the organization of content at this phase will streamline the development of the final navigation structure, and ensure the content is fit to the right information silo.
A well-crafted sitemap also defines the different page templates that need to be built out. Some form of content management system (CMS) governs the majority of websites. As a result, a handful of templates will populate the entire site.
Sketching out these templates in the planning phase affords three primary advantages over not doing so. First, development of wireframes allows you to focus on pure functionality without being mired in the details of color choice, text content, or branding elements.
Secondly, this allows the designer to iterate concepts with ease, producing a more interesting and well-considered end product. Moreover this produces concepts which can undergo user testing, be it simple paper prototype testing, or a more formal usability study.
Consider The Aesthetic Elements
You've arrived at the build phase with well thought-out information in hand. It's time to begin focusing on the aesthetic elements of the site - a step that can otherwise be tempting to jump straight into.
Using the wireframes as a reference, a web designer applies the style and branding elements that bring the page design to life. This ensures that any future developers know exactly how to code and style page elements.
Most developers will follow a similar process in writing the actual code because one step cannot happen without the other. This involves the setup of a test environment, coding the templates defined in the wireframes, coding any special features or functions, and finally filling this in with text and image content.
A less-capable developer may deliver a site that meets your visual expectations but degrades dramatically in less than optimal circumstances. Successful development requires an understanding of the languages and technologies involved in addition to current web standards and best practices for accessibility.
Consider these essential factors before, during and after launching your eCommerce site.
Test, & Test Some More!
In the high excitement days and weeks before a site launch comes perhaps the most critical and oft-overlooked part of the process: testing. It can be easy to skimp on testing but this is where respecting the process pays the greatest dividends. A simple three step check ensures you have done your due diligence:
- Test for quality control
- Test for cross browser compatibility
- Test in the final environment
Test For Quality Control
Be sure that you have covered your data footprint, with the most compact images, markup and styles possible. Review your images for quality and check that there are no placeholder images. Check for SEO optimization including titles, alt text, and other meta information.
Test For Cross Browser Compatibility
The Internet and devices that connect to it have become ubiquitous. Your site may be looking spiffy in Safari, but is it viable for users on the Android or Windows Phone platforms? Even if your user group is known to be predominantly desktop shoppers, the most popular browsers are releasing new versions at a faster rate than ever before.
Test In The Final Environment
Chances are your site was developed on another hardware environment than it will ultimately live. Good process dictates testing your site first in the development environment, and again for breakage on the same server hardware as the site will live before switching over the DNS.
So, remember the next time you go through the website design process not to rush the process. You're likely to come away with some half-baked results. Work the process so you can enjoy the delectable and profitable results.
Interested in learning more about the website design process? Contact us through the form below with any questions or concerns, and we'll be happy to help.