Today creating a website is one of the first things new businesses address in their marketing strategies. But if business owners or employees who deal with this task are not equipped with technical knowledge of website development, embracing into this activity without some basic understanding of the process might lead to extra costs, loss of time, stress, and dissatisfaction with the end product. Below is a quick guide to web design and development process for non-programmers.
Domain is the name of your website (www.example.com), and hosting is a place where all your website data is stored. There are many companies providing domain and hosting services around the world that you can choose from. When choosing the right one, consider things like e-mail id limit, number of sites, storage space, security certificate, etc. If you are unsure which plan suits you the best, consult with your web development agency and they can help you choose the right provider and hosting plan based on your requirements. Some agencies also take the domain and hosting registration and its charges on their scope of work. You can consider this point during your discussion with potential developers. Please note, that there are periodic fees charged by a provider, usually, it is on a yearly basis.
This is one of the most important steps, that some developers skip. It is better that you invest your time to properly plan the structure of your website rather than later realize that some important features have been missed. A website wireframing process involves planning the layout of web pages, navigating the pages, and visualizing the user’s experience. At this stage, you are addressing points like User Experience, required website functionalities, layouts, and features of the website (such as a menu, forms, and buttons). A website wireframe can also be a map for the team members to visualize the concept of the website and understand where each page goes. A wireframe can also help in identifying what content is required for each page and based on this you can create strong content that is targeted to achieve specific goals of your website.
Once you have a visual plan for your future website, you can now start working on your content. Now that you know what content should be placed on each page, you can write the text yourself, hire a copywriter or check with your developing agency if they offer copywriting services. Whichever option you go with, ensure that your content is goal-oriented, and written specifically for the objectives of your website. A common mistake done by many new business owners is writing like for a magazine, just to fill the pages. This kind of content can indeed have useful information and be well written, but if it’s not aligned with the structure of the website and its tasks, it will be useless.
To get the best result for your website’s performance, it’s good to consult an SEO expert of the web design agency at this stage. SEO (search engine optimization) is an important activity to consider when preparing content for a website. If you invest some time at this stage, you can be sure that your efforts will pay you off in the long run.
Plan what image or video will go where and share them with the developer. The best is to have your actual photos, but don’t worry if you don’t have them – most agencies can source some stock images for you online. A small, but very important point is to ensure that all the media that is sourced by your agency is liability free. Some agencies could use downloaded images from the internet which may cause you legal problems in the future.
Now, when you have your wireframe and optimized content ready, the most interesting part of the whole process will start – designing the website. Your developing agency might ask some questions to understand which direction the design should go. To better communicate your preferences, you can share examples of websites that you like and those that you dislike. If you have a logo and brand guideline, you should share them with the designer at this stage, so your website will be designed around your company branding. Depending on your agreement with the agency, you will be provided with options of design concepts.
A useful tip when negotiating with a developing agency is to discuss how many design options will be provided for an agreed price. It is likely that you might not like the first option, if you did not agree for 2-3 options for a given price, you will have to pay extra for an additional design.
After finalizing the concept, your designer will draw all the pages of your website according to it.
Now it is time for the core of the whole process – translating the design into the code and making your website work. There are certain things you need to be aware of that can affect your project costs and outcome. Websites can be built on CMS platforms (Content Management System). The most popular among them are WordPress, Wix, Joomla, Drupal, etc. Or a website can be coded completely from scratch. Choosing between a CMS-based website or a hand-coded website completely depends on your website requirements. There is no best option. It all depends on the requirements of your website. There is plenty of information on the internet about the pros and cons of each of them, but it is best to consult with your developer. A good developer will always suggest an option suitable to your needs.
Your website is now developed. But before handing over the product to you the developing agency should thoroughly test the website running it on different devices. The testing is required to identify any bugs and ensure the website is correctly displayed on all types of screens.
Finally, your website is done and tested. Once you confirm that you are satisfied with the product, the developer will launch it on the internet and your website will go live.
The web design agency at this stage should hand over to you all the information related to your website that you will need in the future. Depending on your agreement with an agency these will vary.
The last thing you need to remember when negotiating with web developing agencies is the post-development maintenance plan and SEO support. If the agency provided a free first-year domain/hosting, you have to know the amount you will need to pay to the provider after the completion of the first year.
The above quick guide should be enough for you to start contacting web design agencies and discussing your future project.
At Union Design we provide full-cycle website development. Our approach to web designing is different and it’s about making a business-oriented tool. Not just beautiful pages on the internet. The project of your website will be led and coordinated by an experienced Project Leader who will closely work with you to build a concept of your website. The Project Leader will be “your guy” to transmit the requirements to a team of designers and developers of Union Design and ensure the complete process is aimed to realize your concept.