5 Steps to Our Website Design Process
There are a lot of web designers out there which inevitably means they are all going to work differently and expect different things from you.
We have realized that through our fair share of clientele and we decided to make it very clear about what we expect from you and what you should expect from us.
Whether you are a current client looking for a refresh or a potential client wondering what our website redesign process looks like, we’re going to lay it all out for you so you’ll have a good idea moving forward when you work with Site Savvy.
We hope you have questions, and a lot of them! Having prepared clients who ask questions and know what they want is our ideal client.
First off, let’s figure out where you are starting from. Are you on this list?
- has never had a website and starting from scratch
- has a website, but wants it redesigned or looking to level-up
- has a website, likes the design, but the functionality just isn’t there and needs some help
- has a website that they like, but needs someone to manage and make changes for them
Each one of these examples will alter the process a bit. We’re going to assume that you’re starting from the first point: never had a website and starting from scratch. If you do have a website, this process will actually go a lot smoother because you already have a layout and content we can pull from.
1. Proposal and Follow Up Email
After our initial call to chat about your needs, you will receive an email with a list of content that we need from you. Within a week or so after the call, you will then receive our proposal and/or contract through PandaDoc, an online document sharing system that we use.
2. Your Homework – Give Us Your Content
After the contract has been signed, we will then need the content that you want on your website. After we receive the content, then we send the monthly hosting invoice and get started!
The reason we do this is because we have had multiple experiences with clients where they get very excited, they sign the contract, they start paying us the monthly hosting fees, and it’s 6 months down the road and they still have yet to give us content and we’re kind of in an awkward situation. We’d much rather prefer our clients paying hosting with a live site instead of one that’s just stuck in staging. So it is much better for you to gather this info first before we start building you a site with barely anything to work with. Save your money 😉
Where Do I Start?
This does seem to choke some people up. Just think as if you were to create a brochure for your business; what would you want on it? Same exact thing. This is just your online brochure.
What message are you wanting to get across to potential customers? What do you want them to know? What goal are you wanting to accomplish; have them call you? Have them fill out a form? Have them directly purchase on your website? Whatever that goal is, that is what you should write about to direct your customers to do that thing.
There is something we want to be very clear about – we do not produce content or branding material for you unless we include that as a separate service in our contract. For just our website service, we do not include the creation of content.
There are the types of ‘content’ also known as ‘branding material’ that we’ll need from you:
You don’t NEED to have everything on this list, like fancy videos or graphics for example. But if you’re able to budget it in, we’d recommend it. This is just a list of everything you could possibly have.
On top of that, we’ll also need examples of websites you like. This really helps us to understand what style you’re trying to go for. If you have an idea on color palettes or fonts as well, then send it over!
How to Save Money
By being prepared with this information, you are actually going to save yourself some money by saving us time. Examples of what takes more time for us that you could have prepared ahead of time:
- If you are sending us documents to add to your site, then we’re going to either need it in a certain format. If you want the document on the site for people to simply download, then we’ll need a PDF. If we are taking the content from the document and directly copying it into the site (which is what you want for SEO purposes), then a PDF or Word Doc will work. We are able to copy and paste which makes things much faster and removes any potential of error on my part. If it’s an image, (JPG, PNG) we will manually have to retype what we see in the picture. Which takes more time.
- If you have sent a document with images embedded into it, we aren’t able to pull from there and the quality of the photo is usually pretty low. Please send all images as individual files through either email or a shared Google Drive folder.
- If we have to help you hunt down whoever has access to your domain registrar, that adds more time.
We are more than willing to help you with all of these things, we just want you to understand that having all of these things in order first will help you out in the long run.
If you’re in Yakima Washington and you do not have some of this branding material but would like to, we can point you in the direction of some swell people that we’ve helped clients with before, have provided excellent service, and really makes our job easier.
For photography and videography, check out Caffery Photo. For some cinematic story-telling videography, check out Digital Vendetta. We also have some local sub-contractors that help with graphic design, logo creation, copy writing, and writing blog material. Email us if you’re specifically interested in those services and we’ll setup an introductory call or coffee chat with the right people.
Coffee’s on us, always. ☕
Content First, Then Design
I recently had a conversation with a new client who was struggling to come up with content to give us. Before she called me, she was really procrastinating getting her stuff together and the more she tried to figure out what she wanted the more it felt like she was squirting lemon juice into a wound. After our call, she was so excited to get back to working on content for her site. I would know, she told me almost 5 different times! All I did was give her a different frame of mindset which is what I’ll share with you now.
Most people think they need to see a design first and then they’ll fit content in. We work from the other end; we first need your content so we can create a design that caters to your overall goal instead of trying to force a cookie-cutter design to work for you.
If you just use some pre-made design, chances are it isn’t laid out in the best format for your specific business or organization.
For example, a life coach is going to have a very different goal in their website than your local pest control guy. One is focused on really showcasing their experience, credentials, and learning about them as a person where the other is going to be straight to the point, show you a list of services, and a lot of ‘call now’ buttons. It’s simply two different industries marketing to two different audiences which ends in two very different goals. And that’s how it should be!
You should have a custom website layout to match your profession, your target market, and your end goal. Not some cookie-cutter website template.
3. Give Us Access
We will need access to your domain registrar. If you already purchased a domain, it was probably through one of these popular sites: GoDaddy, Bluehost, Hover, Google Domains, NameCheap, Register.com, Network Solutions etc. But there are a TON of domain registrars out there. As long as we can get your login information, then when we are ready to push your site live it can be as smooth as possible. We do store logins in a private secured password manager app called One Password. So you won’t have to worry about any logins that you share with us and it getting into the wrong hands.
If you haven’t already purchased your domain, we highly recommend searching for and purchasing your domains through Hover.com. If you need help picking one out we are more than happy to give suggestions. We think it’s kind of fun too 😊
4. Website Creation Begins
When creating navigation menus (header and footer), you want to think about the audience that you are marketing to. Maybe you’re even marketing to multiple audiences. For example, if you’re a non-profit, your main menu at the top (in the header) will be targeting your main audience, which will most likely be the people you’re trying to help. Your footer menu would be catering to donors or partners.
Our base pages that we normally begin with is Home, About, Services, and Contact. The more content, services, and information you want to share, the more pages you have. The more pages you have, the more organization we’ll work on with you to make sure the user experience and navigation makes sense.
This is actually the trickiest and most important page to build. All other pages are very clear about what information to expect but your home page function is different from every other page on your site. First, the hero section that you’ll see at the top before you start scrolling (above-the-fold) is CRUCIAL. That is the first impression. You need to be picky about what goes here as too much information will be overwhelming and either cause the user to leave your site or scroll right past. In this section you need to have:
- Short one-liner of what you do – this needs to be simple and specific. If people still have no idea what you do after reading this, then craft a better message.
- Call to action (CTA) – do you want them to call? Email? Fill out a form?
- High quality ‘hero’ image
- A way for them to contact you (if it isn’t already included in your CTA)
After your hero section is set up, the rest of the page is up to you! Do you want to share your latest news posts? Or maybe highlight your services that link to each service page? How about some client testimonials?
5. Follow Ups + Going Live
After we start building the foundation of your site, we will schedule a call via Zoom to go over the first draft within two weeks. We schedule this early on to hold ourselves accountable and to give us a timeline to work with.
The purpose of this meeting is to figure out what direction you’d like to go from the design that we created. This is a rough draft since we wouldn’t want to create a full blown design and then you end up hating it. And that does happen, and that’s okay 🙂 Creating any type of art has multiple drafts in order to get it right. It’s a process!
We’ll check-in with you and decide what direction to go from this meeting. Either you will:
- like the direction we’re going,
- make some minor tweaks and changes,
- or scrap it completely and we’ll try a different direction.
On top of figuring that out, we’ll also run through this base list of questions:
- Does the format from an organization and functionality standpoint make sense?
- Will this layout make sense to YOUR target audience?
- Does the menu/page tree make sense? Does it need to change at all?
By this point we’re usually pretty close to going live with your site! If not that’s totally fine. Every one is different and have different tastes, industries, complexities etc.
MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
Your website is going to change so much as you and your business grow, so please don’t think you need to have everything perfect before your designer gets started or even goes live with your site. We’re currently on our 5th new logo and we’ve been in business since 2015. And that’s expected! So don’t think your site is going to be perfect right out the gates, because it won’t be. I will be the first in line to tell you that. Get the absolutely necessary content you need for the site to go live, and then as you and your customers use it, you’ll really start realizing what you like and don’t like and make those changes as you go. Your website should grow and change, right along with you. We actually believe most of the magic happens AFTER you go live. You can learn more about our Premium Services and Post Launch Management here.
This is always the fun part 🙂 For this, all we need to do is update your A record in your DNS settings with your domain registrar to the new websites IP address. Depending on what domain registrar you purchased your domain through, this could take minutes, a few hours, or up to 48 hours.
We highly recommend using Hover.com – that’s who we use for our domains and where we direct anyone asking. Whenever we use them, they have definitely been the quickest registrar we’ve worked with. Domains will go live in minutes when we go through them. And they are very easy to use.
After your site is live, there are now a few more things we must finish. We aren’t able to do this until your site is live because it has an attachment to your domain name.
When we are building your site in Kinsta, and it’s not live yet, we’re given a temporary domain. It looks something like this:
Once your site IS live, and it looks more like this:
At this point, we then make sure your:
- SSL certificate is set up,
- Google Analytics code is connected,
- Google Search Console is set up,
- recaptcha is set up for all of your forms
- Rank Math SEO plugin is setup and connected to your Google accounts
- featured image is connected to Rank Math SEO – this is the image you see when you share a link on social media
- any redirect links are set up in Kinsta
I Already have a Website and Need a Redesign; What Do You Recommend?
If you are really looking to level up your brand, we’d suggest talking to a brand expert to help you out. The sites we do for clients always turn out SO GOOD when they’ve hired someone that specifies in brand development and UX/UI design and then we can simply build out the design they’ve created and worked long hours on to make sure it not only looks phenomenal but makes sense to the majority of users that will be using your site. They make sure that it is easy to navigate and will give you the highest possible conversion rate.