Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The website design cycle

Before you start your website you should have a good understanding of the steps in the project. Website design is a process which moves logically from one stage to the next. For some people it is easy to get off track and get lost in the world of design but if you follow the steps outlined below you will be sure to keep your website design moving in the right direction.
Planning stage: Every web design should start with a plan. If you do not have a plan it is likely your site, instead of reaching the goal it was created for, will get lost somewhere in the world of  new technologies and flashy gadgets. It is easy to get caught up in all the latest developments but the most important part of website design is to remember the purpose of your site and who it is made for. Firstly create a statement defining the purpose of the site and the goal you need to achieve by creating. This statement will help you to direct every other design decision from now. During this stage you should also look at the content requirements. What do you need to write on the site to meet your purpose?
Contract stage : If you are using a designer now is the time to work out all the details. They will show you a draft of the site and a proposal of timeframes, prices, etc. Now is the time to ask all your questions and ensure you are getting exactly what you need from your design. If you are not using a designer now is a good time to write down all the specifics of project, like a contract with yourself to keep on task. This will also serve as a good timeline and checklist so you do not skip over anything.
Design / research stage: This stage can take a long time but it is very important to make sure the right decisions are put into practice. Firstly research should be done to define your target audience. Who is it that will be using this site, what do they need, what do they want and what will they use? You need to determine why your target audience would want to use your site and then tailor the following design decisions around them. Based on the research on audience choose colors, layout, content, navigation. A draft should be made up to ensure all the necessary parts are included.
Building stage : If you are using a designer this stage is pretty easy, you just wait. Those building a site will work from the draft to turn their site into code. Content will be added and the layout tweaked to make sure it looks good on all operating systems.
Testing stage: It is important to test the site on as many different browsers and operating systems as possible. You don't want users seeing a blank screen or different colors. You should also test the site on a number of screens as that can affect the need to scroll. Any errors in content or code should be corrected.
Launch stage: If you haven't already done so you need to secure a domain name and hosting. Most designers will take care of this. The site will be uploaded to host server and it is ready to be launched to the world.

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