Good design does not begin with drawing in a graphical editor, but with design and analysis. In this article, I will tell you about the main stages of website design development, thanks to which you will be able to create working design layouts.
Very often, novice designers get lost when a customer asks them to create a website design. They open a graphic editor in a hurry and frantically start drawing a design from their heads. Then they get a million edits, and all the work comes down to endless corrections.
It is quite another thing when you clearly know and understand all the main stages of creating a website design and follow this plan. You coordinate each stage with the customer and you can always argue your design decisions. Thus, you save yourself from numerous edits and look in the eyes of the customer as a real professional in your field.
Stage 1 – Brief
A brief is a specific list of questions that you ask the customer to understand what he does in general and what kind of design he wants to get as a result. At the brief stage, no one owes anything to anyone. That is, it is just your acquaintance with each other. At this stage, you can easily refuse to work on the client’s project, or the client can refuse to work with you.
It is best to brief (interrogate) a client through a phone call (for example, in skype). This way you can get to know the client better and build trust in each other.
But if live communication causes discomfort for you, then you can send a file with a brief to the customer by e-mail and ask him to fill it out. And then, ask to send you back the completed brief.
In addition to the brief, there is also such a thing as TK (Terms of Reference). It is compiled on the basis of a brief, that is, the entire structure of the future site and all design requirements are prescribed there. Someone separates these two stages, but you can combine them and immediately say all the necessary points at the brief stage.
When you already have a completed brief in your hands, where everything is spelled out in detail what site and design the customer wants, then you just have to agree it with the customer again and move on.
Coordinate significant stages with the customer so that later there are no misunderstandings between you.
The brief is relevant when you are a freelancer and work for yourself. If you work in a company, then other people will brief the client (most likely the project manager).
Stage 2 – Niche and Competitor Analysis
After agreeing on the brief and moving on to the second stage, you already enter into commercial relations with your customer. That is, here you are already responsible for all subsequent work, so at the brief stage you should clearly decide whether you are working on a project or not.
If yes, then you discuss the terms and payment process and start analyzing the niche and competitors. This stage is one of the most important, because if done correctly, it will make it easier for you to work later.
Your task is to immerse yourself in the customer’s business and understand, at least approximately, how everything works there. Next – analyze 5-10 closest competitors and highlight their strengths and weaknesses. Look at the structure of their sites, what blocks they use and how they present information.
Where to take competitors? First, your customer can specify them in the brief. Secondly, you can go to Yandex and drive a customer niche into the search. In the issue you will have the sites of competitors and analyze them.
Write down all the data on some medium (paper or Word / Excell) so as not to forget anything. If during the analysis you have questions, then ask them to the customer. The customer knows his business 100% better than you, so dialogue is welcome.
Why is this analysis needed at all? Then, in order not to reinvent the wheel, because before you 100% someone has already developed similar projects. Your job as a designer is to make your client’s product better, not the other way around. Therefore, you need to rely on someone else’s experience and improve it.
As a result of the second stage, you should roughly understand the specifics of the business and you should have records with an analysis of the closest competitors.
Stage 3 – Design
At this stage, you begin to design future blocks of the site, based on the brief and competitive analysis. Here you don’t need to draw anything. Your task is to describe the main blocks of the site and what content they will contain.
In another way, it can be called information architecture. It is important to understand that when developing the final design, you may deviate from your original design in some places.
This stage is necessary to understand what should be on the site in general. How and in what variation it will look in the final design is the tenth thing. You can design both in a graphical editor and on a regular sheet.
In the editor, of course, it is more convenient, because with the further development of the site you will have everything in one place. But if there is no computer at hand, then it is quite possible to get by with an ordinary sheet of paper.
As a result of the third stage, you should have designed the entire structure of the future site.