There has been extensive research that suggest that the first impression of a website is defined by the quality of the website’s design.
To put it simply, the visuals of a website determine whether users are impressed by it or not.
This makes the designing stage one of the most crucial stages of a web project. Designing a website takes a lot of time and patience. It also requires thorough planning and there are also a lot of technicalities involved.
Given the competition in the world of web design, crafting a website that is visually appealing, intuitive and which stands out from the competition is an uphill task for web designers.
However, for web designers who are creative, passionate about designing websites and willing to work hard, this can be achieved by dividing the design stage into easily manageable phases.
The exact process will vary slightly from designer to designer, but at its very core, the designing process of experienced designers remains the same.
The first step in designing a successful website is to gather information. This is an extremely important step since it requires a solid understanding of the company, its goals, target audience and requirements of the client. This phase requires a web designer to ask tons of questions to the client before starting the project. Certain questions that should be considered by web designers are:
It is important for a designer to gather as much relevant information as possible. Answer to all these questions will help you save time and resources. When I work with clients I get them to complete a project questionnaire in as much detail as possible. This allows me create a proposal and also acts as a basis to start the project once a contract has been signed.
This is another important phase of a web design project. After collecting all the required information, it is time for the web designer to sketch out some creative ideas for the project. A designer should prepare a bunch of rough designs and then narrow them down to a few. These designs should then be sent to the client for feedback. This stage mainly consists of a cycle of reviewing, tweaking and approving the design until ideally both the client and designer are satisfied with the sketch of the design. It is important to keep the end user (visitors of the site) in mind while designing the sketches.
Collecting all the information gathered from phase one and after coming up with some ideas that received a green signal from the client, it is time to put together a plan for your website by creating a workflow. Workflows are basically created to diagram a web designer’s thought process. In a workflow, a designer should create a list for each section that is to be included on the site. It should even contain brief information about the kind of content that will be shown on each page I call these PIS (page information sheets). The designer needs to get an approval from the client before continuing with the next step of the design phase.
According to wiki:
“A website wireframe, also known as an interactive prototype, page schematic or screen blueprint, is a visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of a website.”
These wireframes mainly focus on the placement of different design elements rather than provide information about typographic style, colour or graphics.
They describe the kind of the content that will be displayed on each page and provide information about different features like social login button or an email newsletter sign-up that would be included on the site. Moreover, wireframing helps identify any potential issues that a designer might have missed identifying, in earlier stages.
It is easier for a designer to correct something that is in the initial stages of development or is a rough draft as opposed to making changes in a high-quality mockup.
Low-fidelity wireframes communicate functions well but do not cover design all that well.
High-fidelity wireframes are used to solve this issue. These wireframes are designed to fill in the details missed by low-fidelity wireframes. High-fidelity wireframes are more or less the exact resemblance of the final product.
They are used to communicate features, functionality and detailed specifications of each design element to the client.
By using tools, you can create high fidelity wireframes faster and reap all the benefits provided by these tools easily. I use Adobe XD for creating prototypes and collaborative wireframes when working on projects.
Once a product is under active development, there are visual mockups of the UI that designers create to show exactly what it should look like to clients. This is the phase where the visual look of website starts to take shape.
Mockups in general denote the look of the website. The concept of creating mockups is quite crucial for web designers to create an effective website.
Web designers use mockup software to develop a framework of the site that can help them demonstrate near-precise colour, font-sizes and precise placement of all the navigation and content elements on the site.
How closely you follow this methodology depends a lot on the size of the project and the amount of time a designer gets to complete it. A designer may skip some steps (creating sketches and directly move to design some detailed wireframes) depending on the knowledge, project complexity and expectations of the client.
If you are thinking of launching a website or starting a web development project, make sure you’ve come to a solid decision on what your website should look like. Following this process will help you craft a website that is strategically focused to attract, engage and convert visitors.