My web design and development process

Building the website is not just writing some lines of code and that’s it. The whole process is much more complex and consists from many “invisible” steps to get to the completely functional website. Having the process helps to keep your working habits effective.

So, let’s start from the beginning. Usually I am contacted by client with specific request of web design or development project. After short initial communication, I send questionnaire containing various questions about their business. Questions go around details of their business, target audience, competition, their challenges and weak spots of existing website.

This is actually the most important part of web design process because I collect information to understand their design problem which is ultimately goal of website to solve. Goal of the website could be to sell a product, to increase website traffic, obtain new subscribers for email list or just to provide information about business. Measurable goal is preferable.

I always prefer to write the short summary of obtained information with project’s goal and get client’s approval. It can be referred during and on the end of the project and most importantly we can evaluate the success of the project.

The next important step is to agree on project details and organisation such as project duration, milestones, form of communication, price etc. When conditions are agreed on both sides and contract is signed, the project officially starts.

It’s necessary that client provides all content for the website from the beginning of the project, such as images and copy. Maybe except for wireframes, it’s not really recommended to use placeholder text and images, because content creates barebones of the website and can really change the feel and structure. If client does not have any images or they are in really low quality, I prefer to use stock images, which are taken by professional photographs and look always beautiful. As designer it is my responsibility to explain the client when provided content is not the best option for them and find a way to help them to correct that, for example refer them a good copywriter.

When content is collected there comes the creative phase. Usually I start browsing the web soaking in the inspiration. When I have in my mind what exists for similar websites, I start thinking about the best layout. I love drawing, so first wireframes are just sketches with pencil in my notebook. After considering the best option I recreate the low-res wireframe into high-res in computer. Currently I really enjoy creating wireframes with Figma. Final wireframe is sent to the client with request for feedback. There can be some adjustments needed, but usually clients like to see more elaborated version, what’s mockup.

Mockup serves as a reference for the actual future website. There is colour palette and fonts included and this design is once again shared with the client in usually 2 versions. Articulating of my design decisions is crucial in this stage. I create document/guide with explanation of every decision and present it to the client. That’s especially important as website should correlate with goals set up in the beginning, visual design principles and UX best practices. Sometimes client has its own vision of final design, which should be definitely considered but it doesn’t always mean that’s what their business really need. Everything should be openly communicated and agreed.

Once the mockup is approved, there goes the development phase. This may took the longest time, although it depends from project to project. Mockup is converted into HTML, CSS, JavaScript or PHP depending on the project. There are many important things to be considered but I will write another blog post for more detailed explanation of this stage.

One thing I will mention in this article is browser testing, what is especially important. Testing final design on all browsers and if possible also more devices is always advisable. Final website is shared with client right before launch on live server when just minor changes can be made. When client sent the payment and gives the green light, it can be uploaded through FTP client or hand over the agreed way.

And that’s my process I usually follow. Nevertheless, projects are never the same and process can be changed considering the circumstances. But still, it is crucial to set up a basic process to create a structure and keep your working habits effective. And also it is importation to mention that it is a “work in progress” (wink-wink) and it changes as I learn something new and find out the better way of doing something.

Do you have a process you follow? Please share your wisdom in the comment section and I am looking forward to read all your thoughts.