What is the process for designing your website?
Getting your ideas
Getting your ideas is an extremely important part of the process for developing your website. As a client, your website is as important for you as it is for Whiteduck Design. Most clients have some ideas about what their website should look like or how it should function. The importance of functionality cannot be underestimated but the appearance, including structural design and colour, can be especially important for some sites. Some clients have definite opinions about issues such as colour: a fabulous all pink site may be right for one while neutral colours may be the only option in another site. Whatever the choice, Whiteduck Design aims to accommodate your choices for your web site.
The architectural design of your website is partially dependent upon the business the website is representing. The balance of content between text and imagery varies; as do the businesses being promoted. Both areas of content are useful but a website for an artist needs the images of the artist’s art works to be a main feature whereas a site providing technical information tends to contain more information in text. The number of pages required for the website varies with the business and the content. For all sites, consistent design and ease of navigation is paramount to make the process of browsing the site easy for the user.
At Whiteduck Design, the stage of “getting your ideas” provides the basic information for your site. Communication occurs with telephone, email or internet contact as required by the individual case. The aim is to provide personalised service to you. Whiteduck Design has a questionnaire to stimulate your thoughts and for you to provide answers for the building blocks of your site.
Creating the design
Once your information is collated, the structural basis for your website is formed. The home page is the first page a user will view and its appeal and ease of use is crucial. You want the viewer to be stimulated to look further for information on other pages and to be able to navigate their way. Consistent design is one way which helps the viewer to navigate; for example, to have the navigation bar changing position on each page creates confusion and detracts from the content of each page.
Having a logo for your website can be eye-catching and many businesses have their own logo for brand recognition. Logos are not exclusive to business and individuals can use logos effectively on their pages, giving a sense of consistency and ownership to the pages. Whiteduck Design can create logos with a colour scheme and style which suits each client and/or their business. Logos can be striking in colour but the best logos work in both colour and greyscale formats. Logos can be used on business cards and letterheads as well as on the website to provide consistent branding which users will recognise.
Once the page content of the website is worked out, an organisational structure of the website can be formulated so that the primary or most important pages can be decided. For small websites, the primary pages may amount to every page. For larger websites, the primary pages may be launching pads for different sections of the website. This concept does not mean the secondary or tertiary pages are unimportant but provides a logical structure to the site which can also assist in navigation for the user. On some websites, more than one navigation bar may be used with the primary navigation in the most prominent position for the user.
Special features may be needed for the website such as slideshow galleries, animated banners, a newsletter, a community forum, a shopping cart… the list goes on. As a client, it is good if you have an understanding of these special attributes, but not essential… these special features can all be explained if you are unsure. Your input into the components and design of the website will enable Whiteduck Design to provide a product which is built with your ideas in mind.
Once the building blocks of the design are gathered, Whiteduck Design provides two or three visual representations of the home page of your website. The client is then able to see potential home page alternatives and make decisions in order for the development stage to progress.
Developing the site
After the ideas are gathered and the design style is chosen, the developmental stage begins. Essentially this stage requires Whiteduck Design to put together the website. A website can be static or dynamic. Some clients are satisfied with a static website but most websites are dynamic and include some form of content management system (CMS). Even if you don’t think you will need a CMS for your site, it allows the flexibility for you to use the “backend” of the site. Even if you think you will never load a photo, add a page or have a blog, there is no harm in having a CMS working in the background.
For larger websites, a timeline can be important as an arrangement between Whiteduck Design and the client. There are often crucial checkpoints in this development stage and communication continues to be important, if only to advise of progress. Staying within budget and within the expected time course is important to Whiteduck Design.
“Going live!” is exciting and the website is viewed to the world. Prior to this day, Whiteduck Design undertakes detailed and comprehensive testing of the website. When the site and testing is completed, the client is provided with the website to view and do further testing of functions which are important to the client, including the “backend” functions if needed. Whiteduck Design provides the client with a manual which has instructions, including screengrab images, for the functions which are important for the client. Not all clients want to manage their own websites, and, in these cases, Whiteduck Design is happy to forge an agreement for ongoing website maintenance. The process is finished and the website is up and running!