the web design process

PlantAlthough every project is unique there are some common steps in the process of turning an idea into a working website.

1Discuss requirements & agree the brief

Through phone calls & emails I'll quickly be able to understand what you require. I am happy to meet if you require but it's not strictly necessary. I will ask you to provide a site map - this can be as simple as a list of page or section titles in an email or Word Document. This helps me to visualise the size of the site and menu layout. The site map becomes our 'blueprint' - we use it to agree how many pages there will be and what will be in them.

The agreed site map will also enable me to provide you with a firm quote, though without one I can still give you a reasonably accurate estimate. Once you have accepted my quote I'll move onto the initial design stage.

2Design of the look of your new website

We'll discuss colours - i.e. which ones you love & hate! We'll probably talk in semantics at first - e.g. do you like square edges or soft curves? I'll ask you to send me links to sites you really like & tell me why. This helps to ensure we are both seeing the same vision. Most customers have a good idea of what they'd like but don't worry if you don't - you can leave it to me!

I'll start with your logo (if you have one) and any important images you'd like to appear in the design. The designs are presented to you as single flat images which are 100% to scale and look as close as possible to your final site. I will usually lay out the home page and an example of a content page to show how sub-menus would look. If copy is not available I'll use Lorem Ipsum (dummy text). Based on your feedback I'll adjust the designs until you are happy. At this stage if it proves impossible for me to meet your requirements we'll agree to stop. There would be no charge for the work. This is very rare. Effectively this means you only pay if you are happy with the design.

If the design is approved you are committed to complete the project (or at least payment for the work to date if you don't complete) as the 'hard part' is over!

3Gathering together the website's content

If you haven't already written the content for your new site sent through images, video or audio, this is the point when it would be required. The more preparation you can put into gathering your content, the easier it will be to stay on budget. I prefer electronic copy (text) - paper documents can be supplied but there may be a charge for conversion to electronic copy. You can supply original photos or full sized images (in any format) from digital cameras, or scanned. Videos can be sent in most formats (except analogue or digital tapes) to be converted into Flash Video for your site.

The higher the quality of the original media the better the end result. When sending large files you can use your friendly postman, or the free service offered by www.yousendit.com which is ideal for electronically sending files too big for email. As with every stage of the process I'll be on hand to help with all of this.

4Build of a working website from the approved design

Once the design is approved I move onto 'coding' or building of the pages - this is turning the design into working HTML & CSS (or Flash). After creating the main structural code I create all of the pages and load in and format the content. Throughout this process your developing website is available to view online where the public and search engines can't find it on one of my servers. Your site is tested across a number of common browsers such as IE6,7 and 8, Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome and Safari.

A reasonable number of text changes are allowed (I don't put a strict number on this) and tweaking of the content until you are happy. When complete I help with setting up your hosting, configuring domain names and then the site is published. If you discover any overlooked typos or errors after publication these are fixed as a courtesy.