Insights / Website
A professional website isn’t just built with a click of a button.
In reality, it involves a carefully-planned process, with a step-by-step approach to ensure that the final product is able to help a business meet certain goals and objectives. Thus, to fully understand what web design is, we’ll also need to look at the process that goes into building one.
Starting off, a web design agency will conduct a ‘discovery session’ with a company to better understand their goals, products, target audience, competition etc. Through this valuable exchange of information, both parties are able to set realistic expectations for the project while gaining a high-level understanding of what’s achievable, especially when it comes to the end results and potential outcomes.
Once that’s established, several follow-up meetings will take place between the two parties to iron out the agreements and contracts before kick-starting the web design project.
From there, the agency will begin planning the structure of the website by creating a ‘sitemap’, which is basically a list of pages within a site to help users visualize how they can access a specific page or content.
Here’s an example:
Put simply, it’s a blueprint to visualize the entire architecture of a website, which shows the relationship between each page and content, while defining the overall navigation and how it should be structured to provide users with a clear and easy way of moving around the site. That way, they can quickly and conveniently reach their end goal of taking a specific action.
Not only that, but this helps the team in planning and categorizing each piece of content, section and page according to its importance while having a strong visualization of the user’s navigational journey. Furthermore, they are able to understand which areas of the site can be improved upon to provide users with a better experience in the future.
Next, a ‘prototype’ (or demo) is designed to help everyone visualize the appearance of the website along with basic functionalities (i.e. image slider) that can be interacted with. Doing so allows everyone an opportunity to see what the final product will look like early in the project’s life cycle, which helps to set down expectations whilst preventing any unwanted surprises for all stakeholders in the later stages of the project.
3. Design & Content
After the planning phase, the team will start working on the overall ‘look’ and ‘feel’ of the website by designing attractive graphics and creating high-quality written content for each page.
Both the visual and content will also be tailored to the company’s brand identity to ensure a coherent and consistent brand is achieved to present a professional and credible business image. However, if there are already pre-existing designs or content prepared, the company can choose to request for them to be used instead.
Once approved, the team begins developing the technical aspect of the website by writing the code that is responsible for bringing it to ‘life’. In essence, it makes everything within the site functional (i.e. clickable buttons).
However, this is also the most challenging phase out of the rest as it requires a significant amount of time, effort and expertise to build out while ensuring each of the features is working as intended in a smooth yet efficient manner.
In this phase, the website will begin to go through a series of UI & UX tests to identify and resolve any issues, bugs and errors. This is done so by providing a link to all project stakeholders, which allows them to view and access the site while giving them the opportunity to provide feedback for any adjustments and improvements.
It’s also encouraged to access the site from different browsers and various devices as this provides the team with even more information on which areas to optimize given the different operating systems (Windows, iOs, Android etc) out there. By doing so, they are able to address any critical problems that can make or break the website before it goes live, which ultimately helps create an amazing end-product that’s well-loved by both users and search engines.
Finally, as the site begins nearing completion, the team will run a series of final checks on it while also conducting a meeting with the company to go over a pre-launch checklist to ensure everything is in order before it goes ‘live’. They’ll also be on standby to address any sudden or unexpected issues on the day itself to ensure the website remains smooth and functional to prevent business operations from being affected throughout that period.
An important thing to take note of is the maintenance of a website after it is launched. Essentially, the internet is an ever-changing medium that constantly rolls out new updates with the potential to affect the performance of each and every website.
Thus, investing in a ‘site maintenance’ package with the agency is recommended as doing so ensures one’s website is kept in tip-top shape with constant improvements while preventing various unfortunate situations (described below) from happening:
a. Drop in SEO Performance
When not maintained properly, the site’s SEO performance will suffer, resulting in reduced site traffic, lowered search ranking, increased bounce rate and various other unwanted consequences that make it difficult for users to find your website on search engines.
b. Site Errors, Issues & Breakage
Sometimes, even the most well-designed website can break and malfunction for no apparent reason. This essentially means hiring dedicated personnel with technical expertise to fix those problems as they come up, so costly downtimes can be prevented from affecting the company’s online operations.
c. Complete Site Disappearance
One of the most important aspects of owning a website is to have a backup of its most recent version on hand in case of critical emergencies. Put simply, it’s an ‘insurance policy’ that helps guarantee the company a fail-safe solution if something terrible happened to their website. Without it, they have to start from scratch to create a brand new website all over again, which will require even more time, effort and money on top of the resource already spent on the previous one.
In a nutshell, this is essentially the working flow of a website design & development agency. It goes unsaid but true that they’ll be your business companion throughout the whole journey, from planning all the way to maintenance. So, you could focus your attention on the other important ventures.