September 23, 2020 | By:

5-Step Web Design Checklist for Creating Effective Websites

While every business website is unique in its form and function, one thing remains constant: each web design and development project follows a step-by-step approach.

A well-defined and well-documented web design process not only helps you save time and money; it also improves the efficiency of your work.

If you are a business who is about to undertake a web design and development project, here is a simple high-level web design checklist to guide you through the steps in creating a website:

1. Establishing a client brief

It’s essential to determine the goal of your website in order to provide the direction of your web design project. This also helps both you as a business and your design agency to meet eye-to-eye on the projected end result.

During this stage, it’s crucial to establish a client brief before everything else. The client brief covers the following grounds, at a minimum:

  • Your company: What does your company do? What value do you provide your customers?
  • Your goals: What is the primary objective of your website? What problem does your website solve?
  • Your target market: Who is your target audience? What defines your perfect customer persona (i.e., age, gender, country/nationality, educational/employment status, hobbies, needs, etc.)?
  • Your competitors: Who are your competitors? What sets your company apart from everyone else?
2. Planning the strategy and technical details of the project

The planning phase defines the overall strategy and direction of your web design project. During this time, it’s important to spend a generous amount of time to see through the strategy and technical details of the website. This is often called the creative and/or technical brief.

Setting up a realistic project timeline and determining milestones are also key parts during the planning phase. It is highly recommended to involve not only the designer but also the developer during this stage, as well as your copywriters and SEO strategist.

During the planning phase, be sure to consider the following:

  • Technical details: What programming language and tech stacks do you prefer in terms of supporting the features you need and your budget? What content management system is best for your type of website?
  • Content and SEO strategy: Work with your copywriters and SEO specialist to work on content development and an SEO strategy. Make an audit of your existing content and SEO, if applicable. What content can you use from your existing website (if any) and other marketing collaterals? What keywords or keyword phrases are you targeting?
  • Sitemap and wireframes: Create detailed documentation of your sitemap and wireframes; this serves as a primary guide and checklist during the development of your website. Outline the structure of your website; specify the page hierarchies and content silos. Create a framework for your website’s visual design, including content elements and the like.
3. Creating the website design

After establishing the blueprint of your website (i.e., the sitemap and wireframes), it’s now easier to determine the overall web design. The design of your website is largely influenced by your existing branding elements—color palette, font styles, imagery, logo, etc.

Additionally, an essential step in the design phase is the design hand-off to the development team. A good designer-developer collaboration is crucial to a successful website design and development project.

Here are a few things to prepare during the design hand-off:

  • Brand style guide: This ensures consistency in all of your design elements as it relates and preserves to your brand identity. The guide includes specifications for the color scheme, font guides (styles and sizes), iconography, logo variables, imagery styles, etc.
  • Design prototypes and screenflows: Prototypes differ from wireframes in that they are mockups of the actual web design that let developers understand the navigation, interactions, gestures, and expected user behavior of your web design. Screenflows also help developers understand how certain features work and interact with the rest of the design.
  • Design assets: This includes design files such as your prototype, screenflows, icons, and photos, just to mention a few. When handing in your design assets, be sure to define a consistent naming convention for your design files to foster a smoother collaboration as development commences.
4. Developing and testing the website

The development phase is where the design is translated into actual code. This phase takes the longest time and involves lots of testing and optimizing along the way.

Front-end and back-end developers, as well as the designers, do a lot of back-and-forth communication during this stage, so an established communication workflow is important.

Documentation of project milestones is also crucial here. A project manager can be of great value in communicating with clients, developers, and designers, as well as in managing the project timeline.

5. Launching and maintaining the website

When all of the tests and optimizations have been satisfied, and all steps of the process are taken care of, it is time to launch the website.

When launching, it pays to double-check the following, at the very least:

  • Are all pages, links, permalinks, plugins, images, and animations working?
  • Is your website responsive on all mobile devices?
  • Have all content been proofread more than once?
  • Have on-page SEO elements been taken care of?
  • Have the technical elements been thoroughly checked and tested?

It should be noted, however, that the project doesn’t end when the website is launched. Website maintenance is crucially important, and it’s an ongoing process that needs to be addressed for as long as the website is up and running.

Maintaining a website usually involves the following:

  • Continuous testing for technical glitches, broken links, unresponsive forms, etc.
  • Updating existing and adding new content
  • Adding and testing new features/plugins
  • Updating the website according to user feedback and/or current trends

Need help with your web design or other business website needs?

Web design and development require not only knowledge, skills, and experience, but also the dedication to see through every step of the process with excellence and compassion towards the client’s business.

If you want more information, or for Ilfusion to help you with your web design and other business website needs, give us a call at 888-420-5115, or send us an email at creative@ilfusion.com.

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