What does the Web Design Process Look Like?

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Ever wonder what it's like to work with a web designer? Ever wanted to take a peek behind the curtain to see how things get done? Need some help with your website, but not sure about taking that next step to hire a designer?

Working with a web designer can be a huge benefit to your business – whether you are an entrepreneur, "solo-preneur" small business, or a blogger. It can also be a lot of fun when you're working with the right designer.

Your website is the most important part of your virtual business. It's where you send all your friends from Facebook and Twitter, It's where you create and host all your content and subject-matter expertise, and it's the place people are ultimately going to come to find out more about you. Hiring a designer can go a lot way in making sure you are making the most out of your virtual opportunities.

What's it like to work with a web designer?

I get asked a lot about how the design process for Orracle Media goes. It's one of the main things that I discuss with clients when they come on board. 

Coming from a background where I spent years in sales I know how important it is to get the clearest possible picture of what the project is going to look like. If you leave something out, it can create headaches later, so being thorough is key.

But it's not just about gathering information. It's about making sure you execute well at each and every step in the process because it's my goal to make sure that each and every client I work with is completely satisfied and excited about their project when we launch.

I was recently asked again about the process I use, so I thought that there would be no better time than now to show you how I go about making things happen. 

Define the objectives

To begin, it's most important to uncover all the needs, then the wants and desires. A lot of times there are restrictions – either budgetary or time-related – and it's important find out what the priorities are and in what order they're to be handled. Then it's time to find out how that's going to work within the parameters for the project. 

To get started, I go through a thorough fact-finding processs where I investigate the purpose of the project in depth, and ask a lot of questions. I dig deep to find out everything the project needs to do in terms of features and aesthetics. We talk about the colors they want to use, the email addresses associated with the account, to hosting requirements, number of users, feature requirements, etc. This gives me a solid blueprint for what the finished project needs to look like.

Planning

The next step is getting in to the details about how the different pieces are going to fit together and how the concept is going to work technologically speaking. From the previous step we've learned about all the details associated with the project so now it's time to figure out how we're going to make that happen. It's at this point that I take the raw concepts and start looking to apply the technological pieces needed in order to make them a reality. I determine the specifications for how the finished piece needs to perform and how to best create it.

This planning stage also includes the planning and mockups needed for the design aesthetics and how they need to be integrated in to the overall plan for the creation of the website.

Prototyping and Development

After the decision is made regarding the technical pieces that need to be implemented in order to create the functionality we're looking for, I move in to the actual development of the tools. This begins with building the basic website that will serve as the foundation for all the additional features and functionality then moving to add the additional pieces needed to make sure that the design requirements are being met.

I primarily work with two different content management systems to build websites – Drupal, and WordPress. Drupal is a tool that I love to work with. It's highly extensible and configurable, requires a lot of hands-on creation and can create wonderful, and feature-rich websites and applications. WordPress is equally great in its own ways, and much more consolidated with a lot of features being created for users "out of the box".

Depending on which option is selected I then set out on the task of creating the various functions and features to meet the requests for the project. This is the time when the different features are actually developed – either custom-created or using already-existing tools, like plugins or modules.

Testing and Troubleshooting

After having reached a point that the functionality is now completed to a point where it should be able to be working correctly in its basic functionality I begin testing and troubleshooting. Depending on the feature, I'll go through and complete the processes that a regular website user would go through, like the checkout process for an e-commerce site, or logging in and creating content for a multi-user blog site, etc. I follow all the paths that all users, including adminstrators and site owners, will go through in the use of the site to make sure that everything is functioning correctly.

Revisions

After having tested the site's functionality and features those things that were uncovered during the previous step, are revised and changed to make sure they fit squarely with the original objectives that were set out at the beginning of the project. At this point we're getting close! 

Finalizing the Design and Launching the Site

After all the functionality has been created and tested the final design aesthetics are applied and the entire site is once again tested to insure everything is working correctly and once all those checks are passed the site is published live.

It's a pretty straight-forward process that's meant to be quick and easy for both me and my client. The entire time that we're going through the process of building the website we're in regular communication. I send regular out regular progress updates so the client is up to speed on everything at all times and maintain open lines of communication throughout.  I work in a very collaborative manner with all my clients to make sure the final product is awesome.

I have had opportunities to work with some really awesome people and have built some really awesome sites. Are you interested in working together? Let me know – I would love to talk with you about your project.

image by Abstract Machine