Many people consider that building a website is a very demanding task and only the most talented designers can create one. It’s partially true because nowadays almost everyone may launch a website! Much more, a nice website may be created and added online in just a half an hour! WordPress and Blogger are two amazing platforms for launching websites and the maintenance of these is very simple and the interface of administration panel very intuitive.
In spite of the easiness in creating websites, a good looking one that is usable and well coded is still the appanage of a web designer. The actual websites are complex structures and many times a single web designer isn’t enough to create a competitive one; a whole team is required. In these circumstances, Internet is no more just the realm of information sharing, it’s a profitable industry!
In conclusion, anyone may create a website, but if someone really cares about his/her online presence, then the hiring of a designer/web design agency is mandatory. A good website isn’t the result of random decisions; it supposes a huge volume of work and the existence of a strategy.
We will continue the serial teaching you how to become a better designer. Today, we will dig deeper and we will give you details about how to design a website. We strongly recommend you to check the previous articles; undoubtedly, these will offer you a clearer perspective about the work of a web designer.
Creating a website for a client is divided into two big parts: before effectively creating the digital files of it and the effective creation. Each designer and each context has its own particularities, but in the huge majority of cases this classification is working. Apparently, it’s a useless fact that won’t count too much when designing. The truth is that this classification really saves much time and helps in clarifying what should be done. Briefly, don’t disregard it!
Hence, let’s have our hands dirty with the steps to do before installing comfortably on you chair and creating the website files.
Step #1: The contact with the client
Obviously, the designer should have a contact with the client. The best situation would be the face to face meeting but we are living into a very busy world where time is the most precious resource. Wiling or not, the designer should accept any contacting possibility. Personally, I think that lacking the face to face meeting isn’t a big issue. Such a meeting has the big advantage that the designer may study the client facial expressions and vice-versa. Anyway, patiently everything may be resolved via phone or email.
Step #2: The documentation
This step supposes that the discussion with the client was OK and both of you agreed to keep on. Documentation is a very important step – it is the moment when the designer may impress the client. At this moment the designer is making an idea about the client and the most important competitors. It depends on the complexity of the project, but usually it won’t take too long. Keep in mind, it’s just a superficial research and not a detailed one!
Step #3: The big meeting
Let’s make a short recapitulation: the designer was contacted by the client, they agreed to collaborate. Immediately, the designer searched for some details about the client and what supposes the project to be assigned. After the documentation phase the designer and the client should have the “big meeting”. At this stage, both sides are aware about the each one potential and the discussion is more to the point. Usually, at the end of the “big meeting” is signed a contract, is established the deadline and other specific requirements.
This meeting would be more efficient when both parts are face to face, but as I previously said, nowadays this possibility is more seldom. Obviously, with patience, flexibility and fair-play everything may be resolved.
Step #4: Research
I prefer to live into a normal building with a solid foundation than in a magnificent palace with a very weak foundation. I am almost sure that the majority of people would agree with my idea. The same principle should be applied by a web designer when creating a website. In this case, the foundation is the research.
At this phase, the designer should study very in-deep the history of the client. More exactly, is way better for the designer to have a questionnaire and adapt it according to each client. Some of the mandatory questions from the questionnaire should be about the client business activity field, the main and the secondary competitors and the expectations from the new website. Also, the designer should find out about the strategy of company branding, the tendencies in the field and many other details. Pragmatically speaking, the designer should have the big picture of the client field of activity. Even if the designer spends much time at this phase, the time isn’t wasted! The research should be regarded as the foundation of a skyscraper…unless is solid, the entire building is in danger.
Step #5: The sketching
Many designers are doing a major mistake: immediately after sketching, they start the effective creation of the digital files. Well, maybe for the most experienced designers it may work, for the rest I am afraid that won’t bring successful results. The better idea is to sketch the layout of the website. It doesn’t matter too much if the designer is “old-school” and prefers sketching on paper or do this using a web application or software. What really matters for the designer is to have very clearly in his mind the layout of the website. The clearer it’s fixed, the easier would be to realize it practically.
Step #6: The second meeting
This last step is depending on the client – some trust more the designer and wait to see the layout before slicing into HTML while others want to have more control and ask for multiple meetings. Anyway, it’s a smart idea to present to the client the sketches of the layout- it’s way easier to modify something at this stage than later.
These are the steps before starting to create the first digital file. Depending on each case, some steps may be ignored or repeated; anyway, what really matters is to have a good layout. Of course, this strategy is flexible and every designer should customise it according to the own preferences. It will be nice from you to share with us your thoughts about what a designer should do before effective work on a website project. The more opinions, the better!
– Written by Daniel –