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The Process of Website Design

Developing a website design methodology for a wide range of customers that have diverse backgrounds and needs takes several challenging and varying website design projects. Ability of the website design and development team to adapt to each challenging situation to fulfill the goals is paramount for the success of each project. An effective process methodology is derived from several such successful projects.

The Nine steps of website design process of our company

An important note about using this methodology: The following process steps are derived for developing a customized website design and development solution for your organization. This methodology cannot be applied if you choose to use website design templates.

Analyzing the steps involved in designing an effective website solution will help our customers estimate the effort required by organizations to create a clever design of their company's website

1. Always begin with defining company’s objectives for the website design project

Winning companies mark their success by creating an indelible mark of their brands in the minds of their customers! Small business owners should seek to build their organization's brand by designing and developing an attractive and functional website.

Brands convey memories, impact our day-to-day lives and provide customers a level of comfort in transacting with your business. You will need to pick a Unique Selling Proposition and follow that through during each step of the website design process to spawn a compelling distinction about your company. However, it’s important to note that there are other goals each organization would like to achieve apart from building the brand image. Some of our customers solely focus on generating more sales leads through their websites while others use their websites to enable customer self-service functionality.

Our company has developed a questionnaire to help our customers validate their website design project goals. You can request a complimentary copy through the Contact Us link. Though this questionnaire stimulates some of your innate ideas, it must be noted that, it is your company’s vision that needs to be transformed into graphics and text on your website pages. The website design goals for my company questionnaire will suggest you to prioritize your company’s goals such as the ones in the list below:

  • Corporate Identity or brand building - Pick your unique selling proposition
  • Marketing goals to broaden customer base
  • Promote specific Product Lines through new sales channels
  • Provide customer initiated services on the internet
  • Enable better communication with customers
  • Provide better value by improving business processes thru internet technologies.
2. Define your target audience

While using internet technologies to create an effective human-computer interface, your company needs to focus on fulfilling the needs of the target audience. Keep your visitors’ needs in mind throughout the design process to attain usability goals. An ideal website should be a congruous design that integrates company’s goals and your visitors’ needs. Psychological perspectives on color, layout and graphic style vary based on demographics. Analyze the characteristics of your audience for any specific needs that you can distinctively fulfill through a clever design of your company website.

3. Design navigation and information structure for the website

The best website design integrates company’s business goals and visitors’ needs. Architecting the information and navigation structure is vital to achieve this balance. Sufficient time should be invested in designing the schematic of the website and evaluating the structure for efficacy. Laying out the structure on a big whiteboard can come in handy to analyze the structure with other contributors from your company. There are several styles you can follow to arrange the information during such diagramming technique. Some of the patterns are based on:

  • Hierarchy
  • Process Groups
  • Storyboards – sequences of user interactions to accomplish a task on your website
  • Alphabetical order
  • Significance of a page

It’s recommended to enable your visitors to navigate to the desired information by clicking a maximum of three hierarchical links. However, if your website is very large, consisting of several hundred pages, following a three-click rule may not be feasible as you may substantially increase the number of links on certain pages. In such cases, you can group your pages to summary level and detailed level, to achieve some balance. If your website is less than 100 pages, following a three-click rule contributes to creating an effective navigation.

A good layout and information design for your company website can facilitate intuitive information retrieval for your customers. The information that the visitor retrieves, is not just limited from text on your website, but includes graphics and your company’s image. The more information you can effectively exchange within a short time thru this human-computer interface, the better is the chance for the visitor to stay longer on your site. Surveys show that it is about 30 seconds that an average person spends on a website that he or she just came across, before moving onto the next one.

4. Assimilate content information for each page

Content-rich websites will attract quality visitors to your site. If you do not have pre-developed content for your website, you must allocate sufficient time to develop content. It’s an important consideration to define timelines for the project, as it’s easy to underestimate the time required to develop content that is rich in value for your customers. At the end of this step, reconfirm that information structure (step 3) works well with the content you have developed.

5. Choose the technology that is apt for your company’s website

If you would like to update the information on your website periodically, use a technology that will enable you to handle content management. Dynamically generated pages are less likely to be stored on computer systems of internet search companies. A large number of static website pages are developed using HTML. If information on your web pages is not dynamically generated, it is recommended to use technologies such as HTML. Internet technologies are rapidly changing and you should choose the one that is best for your business. Some of the popular technologies are:

  • HTML
  • ASP. Net-MS SQL
  • ASP-MS Access
  • Cold fusion
  • Perl
  • Flash-Flash ActionScript

Several other advanced custom database integrated technologies are available to design website for ecommerce companies. Each must be carefully evaluated for specific processing capabilities.

6.Design critique

Website designers will present intermediate representations – prototypes based on your specifications – for your review. During this step, we use an iterative design process that involves review of your company website by your customers.

  • Many website development and design teams limit assessment internally. However, since your customers are the best judges of your company’s website pages, it is vital to get opinions from a representative sample of your customers. Often what you like may not be the best for your customers. Thus, it is imperative to get a feedback from the marketplace. If you conduct your customer feedback survey process right, it will help you tremendously to get a website designed the way your customers will like. We recommend doing a feedback survey of prototypes among your customers.
  • Some of our customers insist on a certain color, until we convince them otherwise with their own customers’ feedback. Critique process by representative users is a key step for choosing the best prototype.
  • Your website prototypes should be thoroughly evaluated for: web page schematics, colors, ease of navigation, consistency of style and use of graphics
  • Document the changes during each prototype review to incorporate in the iterative design process.
  • Review the modified prototype designs.
7. Detailed design specifications for your website

Once a website design prototype is chosen for your company, you need to provide specifications detailing: layout, color, number of pages, navigation, and link structure.

8. Website Development and Testing

During this step, web programmers develop prototype into functional web pages. Both developers and customers test website.Our Company's Account Representative may require you to review specific features of website during the development process. You will evaluate and test different elements of design to ensure that specifications are followed. Though web developers test technical aspects, you should do your own testing for:

  • Detailed review of individual pages
  • Proper functioning of internal and external links. The links must open in the same window, unless you have a valid reason to open links in a new window.
  • Compatibility with multiple browsers and different versions of each browser
  • Optimal viewing resolution
  • Page loading speed
9. Go live with your website

Once your website is online, you need to continually monitor performance, analyze storyboards, track usage, and evaluate merits of success. Detailed analysis of storyboard and buying patterns is an important vehicle to adapt to customer behavior. We have outlined strategies for promoting a website in our Website Sales Promotion Strategies guide. There is also more information on developing a good website on our page: How to Design a Website?

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