Why Planning is Crucial to Successful Web Design
The web design planning process has changed over the last twenty years, the internet has completely transformed how we approach and interact with companies. Where once clients (potential and existing) would have likely visited your store or office in person — or perhaps found you in Yellow Pages — these days, most new inquiries are the result of a Google search or direct visit to your website.
Having a professional website is an essential part of your company’s overall promotional arsenal. A strong online identity will go a long way to instilling trust and a sense of your proficiency in the minds of your clients.
While it’s possible to take a DIY approach to web construction these days, in almost all cases, you’ll achieve far better results by enlisting the services of an experienced digital agency. Web development is a complex process, but a professional design company will guide through every stage of the production cycle, ensuring you achieve your goals.
Stages of Web Design
In general, almost all web projects go through at least four distinct phases: planning, design, development, and deployment. More intricate jobs may require other stages such as market research or software integration; however, in most cases, the majority of projects follow a similar production path. (don’t forget to design with responsive mobile in mind)
Importance of Planning
Before commencing any web project, you should first spend time identifying the aims of the production. A design company will help you with this process, but you’ll make their job much easier if you start by considering the following.
What you hope to achieve from your website: For example, is your site purely to generate online sales, or is it more for imparting details about your company? E-commerce sites tend to be more direct, placing products on the front page to generate sales. Conversely, brochure-type websites are usually subtler and often take a more design-centric approach.
Think about the different types of information you might want to include: In most cases, the standard About us, Previous Work, Contact Us page,s, etc., will suffice, but take time to think about any extra details you might want to include about your company. It’s often useful to draft a rough navigation layout for your pages to get an idea of the different data you could feature.
Any specific files you could include: For example, you might want to add downloadable files or product brochures. Perhaps you have a company video you’d like to stream on the front page. Try to think about any extra files you could add to your site to make it more interesting and improve the user experience.
Consider your target market: Spend time considering your target audience to get a better understanding of how they might use your website. One of the most overlooked areas of web production is failing to identify what your site visitors could be looking for or how they might interact with your site.
Taking time to work out how your clients will end up using your website will also help with its general Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the process by which your site will begin to appear in search engine results under queries relating to your particular industry, so think wisely about how best to prioritize the information you feature on your site from a user perspective.
Planning to Production
Most professional design firms will have made hundreds, if not thousands, of different websites and will be highly skilled at the various processes involved in web production. Almost all agencies will arrange a quick introductory meeting and perhaps some follow-up conversations to ascertain the exact goals of your project before starting work in earnest.
Once your exact requirements are clear and have been agreed by all parties, the design company will likely disappear for a few weeks developing your site before presenting you with the final production.