Web design is a profession that has many facets. Graphic design; programming; mobile development; SEO. Creating a great website – one that stands out for all the right reasons – calls for the combined skills of a web design team. As with any industry, web designers tend to specialise in the role they are most proficient at. That’s why good web designers doesn’t just possess the technical and creative skills that the job calls for – they’re also excellent team players.
When it comes to creating a new site, there are five stages that a web design team will follow:
The planning stage is crucial. It is here that ideas will be floated with the potential to shape the direction of the entire project. Determining which ideas to utilise – and which to jettison – is crucial. The design you’ve chosen for your site may look great, but if it takes too long to load on mobile devices or isn’t tablet-friendly, is there a risk of alienating much of your target audience? Will the colour scheme you’ve chosen clash with the company logo? Is the site easily navigable for someone visiting it for the first time?
Before so much as a single line of code is generated, the visual aspect of the site needs to be thoroughly designed. This may call for creating detailed mock-ups in Photoshop. These will then be refined until a final design is agreed upon. It may take several revisions until the client is completely satisfied with the look of the new site.
Development is the most intense phase of the project. As the web development team begin programming, they will write clean, organised code. Comments will be used to aid the planning process and to ensure that the initial plan is being adhered to. Templates will be created for pages which can be replicated on the site such as blog pages. Interactive features will be implemented and tested, including video, audio and the use of frames to animate actions such as hovering over menus. Next, site content will be added: professionally-written copy will be created for each page, with relevant keywords inserted for SEO purposes. Alt image tags, meta descriptions and other meta data will also be added. In addition, all links will be thoroughly tested, as will overall site navigation.
Next comes the main event: launching the website. After being transferred to a live server, the site will be thoroughly tested. This is the last opportunity for the team to tweak the site and remove bugs before the public are set loose on it. Multiple browsers will be used to access the site and check for cross-platform compatibility. The site may look great in Chrome on a desktop, but how does it hold up on an Android or iPad? Is the site being indexed correctly by Google? If the website looks great but can’t be found by the major search engines, traffic will stagnate.
Once a website has been built, tested and launched, the hard work doesn’t end there. After all, there’ll still be ongoing maintenance to perform. Many clients choose to outsource this job to the same web design firm that built the site. As well as updating site content, the web designer may host the site for an annual fee. As part of ongoing site maintenance, the firm will patch software updates and ensure that enough bandwidth has been allocated. Regular database backups will be made and security scans performed to check for threats. Using a content management system, meanwhile, the client can update on-page text and images themselves. Other tasks, including ongoing SEO work and blogging, can be handled by the web developer.
As a business evolves, so too should its website to reflect the company’s values and service offering. In time, this may call for reskinning the original site, to create a cleaner, more contemporary look. In addition, new pages and interactive content may be added, while some businesses will decide to integrate e-commerce into their site.
From copywriters to graphic designers and from coders to SEO experts: creating a great website takes planning, teamwork and mastery of various disciplines. Once the project’s completed, you should be left with a slick, professional website that epitomises everything that’s great about your business.
A website is your digital calling card; it’s the face of your business. In an era of ever-shortening attention spans, first impressions are crucial. What does your website say about your business?
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