While some of the research will be done to get an understanding of the needs, other research will be done to learn more about a specific industry. Look to discover as much as possible to help you develop an outline for the site and eventually design it. This includes considering target audience, goals, creative direction and other variables that may affect what you can offer, such as budget and deadline.
Instead of looking for the perfect idea to be your first, throw out any and all ideas or concepts for the website as a start. Some websites might call for a standard web interface, with navigation and content areas where users are most likely to expect them. Others may require a unique concept to present the content.
- Collect Technical Requirements
Early in the process of developing a website, decisions need to be made regarding the technical requirements of the project. Such decisions will affect the budget, time frame and in some cases the overall feel of the site. One of the primary decisions is what the underlying structure of the site should be, which will determine what software is used and what system makes the site “work.”
- Outline the content
An outline of a website should include a list of each section to be included on the site, with a description of what type of content will be shown on each page. It should also describe in as much detail as possible what features would be on the site, such as user accounts, commenting, social networking functions, video, or a newsletter sign-up. Aside from helping organize the project, the client should be presented with the outline so they can approve it before the project continues.
- Use Wireframes
Wireframes are simple line drawings of website layouts that allow you to focus on placement of elements rather than color and type. This is extremely helpful as it determines what content deserves the most focus and what percentage of the space on the page. Without being distracted by other visual elements, approved wireframes provide a framework for your designs.
- Design the Website
Once you are happy with the wireframes, it’s time to start designing the site. Adobe Photoshop is the most common tool for creating the initial designs. The focus of the site design should be to present the content. Consistent navigation will help your visitors find all your main content areas, while clean use of type will keep them reading and coming back for more.
- Build Web Pages
When your design is approved, the pages need to be turned from mockups into actual web pages written in HTML and CSS. Experienced designer/developers may choose to take on all the coding, while someone focused on the design side of the web may work closely with a developer to bring the site to life. If that is the case, the developer should be involved from the start, helping to make sure the design is a realistic and an effective web layout, and that promised features are both possible to execute and beneficial to the site.
- Develop the Website
Once your layout is completed in HTML and CSS, it needs to be integrated with the system you have chosen in order to build a functioning website. This may mean developing templates to be read by a content management system, altering a WordPress template, or using Dreamweaver to create links between pages and more advanced web features.