Most likely every marketer or website owner raises this question before making changes to their existing website or building a new one. Shall I make a landing page, microsite or a proper website? The key factor here – it doesn’t matter, the problem is always the same: where to start and what will be the right process?
Shall I write a tremendous brief document, outline in detail how everything should work? How to understand what should be on the website and how it should be working. Too many uncertainties and so few answers.
The tremendous brief document is not going to be a solution. Going through the description, the designer will struggle to figure out how certain blocks should be operating and positioning on the website page. Similarly, frontend and backend developers will have some tough times figuring out how pages should dynamically operate. As a result, things become confusing and this will be a reason for misunderstandings and assumptions. This then leads to an extensive amount of communication between both parties and the ever-growing list of amends.
Here, at danilab.eu I don’t encounter these issues as before proceeding with any projects, being that a landing page, microsite or a proper website I will help you to determine clarity in your brief. By analysing your responses I’ll be able to craft essential guidelines.
To begin with, I perform an analysis of everything that the client has: business, current website, competitors and so on. This will help to identify visible present issues and prevent them from appearing in future. Generate, collect a list of potentially useful ideas that could be implemented on the website.
At this stage, I identify key selling points and available persuasion tools that convert visitors into consumers. This means that a lot of communication happens at this stage as well as product familiarisation.
The outcome of this – clarity and knowledge. I better understand the client and website specifics that I will be developing. Not having this knowledge makes it impossible to develop a well-performing website.
If the client has a website, it’s time to study it thoroughly. The key task at this stage is to determine growth points and problematic areas. This is achieved with statistical analysis; I look into heat-maps and user behaviour recordings. Find out what users are clicking on and where they don’t, what’s important for them and what isn’t.
As a result, I do a list of successful solutions and a list of what needs to be eliminated as it’s damaging usability.
Usability testing is a very important stage of any website build process and should be done before any website build. By performing usability tests on the old website I can make important improvements targeting your audience specifics.
Before starting actual testing, we need to go through some preparations. Starting with usability testing script. This will be a list of questions that will be asked to the user focus group as well as a list of scenarios.
Then assemble a focus group. It’s crucial to get their individual feedback regarding the usability of the website before proceeding with questions.
Result: a list of unclarities and wishes from the website focus group.
Everyone has competitors and it’s a mistake not to analyse them. At this stage, I’ll study competitive resources from a usability point of view. Identifying useful solutions and services that are missing and yet to be implemented on my client website.
The outcome of this: a list of solutions that should be considered for addition on my client’s website.
Designing a website
It so happens that by saying “to design a website”, it could be interpreted literally as “to draw a design layout” which is very inaccurate and has a process behind it.
Now, since we have a clear idea of how the client’s business operates, website specifics as well as having done a competitors analysis it is time to collect ideas in one place. It’s time to think over everything in detail – to move from concepts to concrete solutions.
Sitemap and user flow
To avoid any confusion site map and user flow is generated. This is an important stage as it gives visibility on structure, helps to understand what pages website consists and they are responsible for. It also serves as a reminder, making sure that nothing is forgotten and addressed properly when I’m designing a website.
Sitemap and user flow is crucial if we are looking at a massive website.
Working on wireframes
Now when we have a list of clear ideas and an agreed sitemap and user flow we can start mocking up website wireframes.
My task is to carefully think over the structure of each page and consider the integration of collected ideas. Therefore, it’s not necessary to go deep into a design detail. A layout made up of solid grey rectangles and an approximate copy will give enough idea of how the page will be structured and function.
The wireframe stage is great for structure understanding, but it doesn’t help to understand the functional aspect of the website and this is where prototype comes to the rescue. Having a prototype helps to understand the interactivity of the website as well as to perform some usability testing.
- Useful to have an actual copy at this stage as it will help to structure elements better.
- This is considered as part of the design phase.
Why do you need wireframes and prototype?
Well, most importantly it saves you money. There will be fewer uncertainties, less back and forth communication and you will make all needed changes at the right stage where it’s less costly.
Having a visual and interactive prototype is more convenient for coordination than having this written in the website build specification document. Looking at the interactive prototype is easier to provide feedback and for the developer – to better understand how it should be built.
From my personal experience, having an interactive prototype eliminates a huge amount of changes later in the website build.
Before proceeding with website development, it’s useful to perform user testing. This helps to find missed flaws in the prototype. In the end, you will have a successful and viable website design.
Final design and development
Now that we have an interactive prototype of the site that has passed usability testing, we need to finalise the visual and interaction design and develop it.
- Final website design
- Draft website build
- Final website build
It’s important to have the right for the website build as it will reduce the probability of encountering unexpected problems and save you time.