Collaborating on your website design project

A whistle-stop tour of a web design project outlining your role in the project and what information, input and decision making we need from you along the way.

If you’re starting a web design project for the first time, perhaps you’ve commissioned a brand new website or a redesign of an existing one, you might be curious as to your role in the project and what information, input and decision making we need from you and when. 

In this blog post I will guide you through the five broad stages of a website design project detailing the information and feedback we need from you at each stage of the process.

Discovery

At the outset we send you our client questionnaire, this living document draws out the important stakeholder aims and requirements that ensures the success of your project and is something every member of the team refers to when they are brought onto the project’s team. In short, it allows us to understand the background and context for the project along with its aims and requirements.

Design

Information Architecture

The design stage starts off with a collaboration to define the project’s information architecture, resulting in a sitemap and taxonomy for the website that organises and labels the content the website will contain in the most optimal way.

Content Elements

With an agreed sitemap we can identify the key pages in the website and for each of those we define the content elements those key pages will contain.  This is where your input is critical to the process as we decide on the information we need to convey to the user, the overall message and the actions we want them to perform that align with the project’s goals.

Wireframes

Once the content elements are finalised we start to arrange those on the pages in very rough page layouts we call “wireframes”, these are more like diagrams than designs as the purpose of a wireframe is to define the visual hierarchy of the content elements and not features of the design such as fonts, colour, images, etc.

Visual Design

Now, with the groundwork complete, we can tackle the most exciting part and the culmination of the design phase, which is an initial design for the look and feel of the website’s key pages. The designs are guided by your responses to our client questionnaire and conformance with your brand guidelines (if available) and build upon the work that has come before including the information architecture, content elements and wireframes. Again, this is where your feedback is vital as we iterate the designs until all stakeholders are suitably delighted!

Development

With designs signed off, we get underway with building the website, setting up the content management system (CMS) and populating it with content.  This is when you need to start providing the finalised content for the website so we can start populating the CMS, we’ll also send you a URL to a development site so you can start to watch as the design takes shape as real web pages you can interact with.

Testing

Once the development site has been completed, we’ll ask you to fully review the website and sign it off. This is an opportunity to make final tweaks to the website and its content in preparation for launch. Once the development site has been signed off, we then begin the final rounds of our testing. It's usually around this time or earlier in the project that we'll hold a training session so you are ready and able to manage the content the website contains via the CMS.

Launch

In preparation for the launch we will have already requested some details from you to enable us to put the site live. Usually this will be your domain registrar’s log-in details so we can either migrate your DNS under our control or make the necessary DNS changes to route traffic to your domain through to our own hosting infrastructure, where your new website is hosted. We can also instruct you of the required DNS changes if this is preferable and either you or a staff member is experienced in carrying out such changes.

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Michael Walsh by Michael Walsh