How does the web design process work?
At Skybox Creative, one of the first questions we’re asked before starting a web design project is “How does the process work?”
Firstly, understand that every firm works a bit differently so it’s important to find a web design company whose process fits with your personality and workflow. We recommend doing some competitive research before choosing a studio to work with and most importantly one with a portfolio you like.
Web design firms don’t typically update their online portfolio after every project they complete, so you may want to ask to view recent projects they’ve launched or ask if they have more industry related samples that are not included in their portfolio section. Design studios try to show a wide variety of work and clientele on their site, so they may have more industry-relevant examples that you aren’t aware of.
Looking at their client list helps, but even this may not reveal all the clients they’ve worked with. Sometimes, a project can’t be mentioned or showcased publicly because of an NDA or they may just want to highlight key clients. For example, the page shown below is taken directly from our proposal booklet, which only shows a few of our key clients.
Types of Web Design Packages
We offer two types of web development packages so the process is different for each. Our Custom Web Packages typically take about 8-12 weeks and are completely custom designed to our clients’ needs, goals and preferences with regard to structure, functionality and design. Our Basic Web Package is a faster process with a lower price point but less flexibility in the process and final product. We assess the clients’ needs on the initial call and then provide the best recommendation.
Below is a break down of the process for our Custom Web Package.
With every package we offer, we start with a brand analysis questionnaire. This is step one in our process, the Discovery Phase. Our in-depth analysis covers questions like “What are your website goals?”, “What marketing initiatives do you currently have in place?”, “Who are your top 5 competitors?”, “Do you have any style preferences or colors to avoid?”
This initial kick-off meeting typically lasts about an hour and a half and helps us understand who you are as a company, what the primary function of the website is and what success looks like to you.
Next in our process is the Development Phase. In this phase, we take the information provided and conduct additional industry research to see how you can stand out above your competitors. Some clients have already planned their website structure and provide us with a site map, some even provide us with a wireframe (if they have a specific UI structure in mind). Typically, we start with a rough site map from the client (a list of main web pages with subpages indented on a word doc) and we provide recommendations if needed. Then, as part of our Custom Web Package, we create a wireframe.
This is an example of a series of wireframes we created for our client, Campland on the Bay in San Diego, CA.
A wireframe or series of wireframes (depending on the website complexity) are presented and either approved or improved upon based on feedback from the client. A single home page wireframe used to be sufficient when we were designing for a standard 960px width, but with mobile and iPad browsing on the rise, as well as larger computer monitors, responsive design is taking over and has changed the process quite dramatically. If we are building a responsive site, several wireframes need to be created to show how the design will change from device to device. Building a responsive site is a more elaborate process and does add to the overall project cost, so make sure to weigh the pros and cons to decide what’s best for your business.
Here are some examples of responsive design.
Once the wireframes are approved, we move on to the next phase of the project, our favorite… the Design Phase. This is where we get our hands dirty, well not really, but we start to put the color, the gloss and the personality on the web design. We conduct stock photo research, if needed; however we always recommend a custom photo shoot if possible to ensure brand differentiation and consistency in tone. We offer custom photography services, please get in touch to learn more.
We present static design options (meaning no interactivity yet) in a pdf booklet either in person or on a conference call, depending on what is most convenient for you. Typically, 2-3 home page design options are presented to chose from. At that point, 2 rounds of changes are budgeted for to get the style “locked in” before moving to the interior page layouts.
Above are 3 home page design variations that were presented for the client to choose from. Click an image above to view full size. View the final live site here.
Once all the designs are approved and content is complete (copywriting, photography, custom icons, whitepapers, etc.), we are ready to move to the programming phase, which falls right between the Design and Delivery Phase.
Typically we develop on a Skybox server during the development and testing phase, unless specific technical aspects require that we develop on a clients’ server. This is never done on a live URL (domain name) but rather on a testing URL until everything has been completed and approved by the client. We budget for 2 rounds of changes in the programming phase as well, although these are not design-heavy, usually text based or photo changes (which is why it’s important to get the design perfected before moving into the programming phase).
Once all the content has been implemented, pixels aligned and all current browsers have been tested, we get the green light from our client and go live on the URL. This is typically done EOD on a Friday (for B2B clients particularly) since lapses in web presence and emails tied to the domain can and do happen. A DNS switch can take between 2-48 hours to update across the nation, but it rarely takes the full estimated time.
Hopefully this article helped to answer some of your questions regarding the Web Design Process.
Check out our web design portfolio to get a feel for our design style.
Our Account Managers are super friendly and helpful! Get in touch with us for a quote on your next project! firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 619-381-3825.
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