My approach to website design and development comes in many well thought out steps. The development process involves strategic planning and implementation to create a website that is perfect for your company and will serve you well for many years to come.
The first step in the design process is to gather information. Many things must be considered when developing a website that is customised for your company and for your industry, in order to best serve your website visitors. This tends to be the most important phase because it involves me getting to know your company and you, learning what your goals are for your new website, understanding the purpose of your site, who your target audience is and what kind of content they will be expecting when they visit your site.
I believe that making sure we are on the same page is the key to keeping you happy with my work and avoiding unnecessary delays due to miscommunication. I conduct solid research to better understand and align what you and your end users are looking for in a website. This saves you time and money in the long run.
If you aren’t willing to work through the discovery process with me, then you might as well find someone who will do a cheap website for you.
Listen, I’m going to be frank, in order to make sure your website will yield the results you want to see, it is imperative that I get to know your company, and what your goals and expectations are, so I can develop a website that works for you.
As a freelance website designer, I don’t take on every client that comes my way. It’s imperative that my clients are willing to put in the work to help make their websites a success, just as I am willing to put in the required effort to deliver a product you will love. So this phase is very important to the development of your new site.
Using the information that I have gathered in the first step, I now put together a plan for your website. I begin by developing a site map to serve as a guide for what content will be on your site and how the navigational system will be set up.
During this phase it is key that I keep your end user in mind when creating the site map. These are the people that you will be targeting your website to, so it is important to gear the site and navigation towards them, the end user.
I will also offer suggestions, or critical reasoning, as to why or why not something should be included in the design of your website. Often times clients want all the “bells and whistles,” without realising that bogging their website down with all the fancy sliders and heavy scripts could actually hurt them in SEO, damage their page speed load times, or do other things that hurt their conversion rate. Just because something can be done doesn’t necessarily mean it should be done on each and every website. The goal is to determine what your site actually needs to be functional and user friendly.
Sometimes your preconceived ideas of how the website should work aren’t necessarily the best ones to accomplish the goals you have set for your website. My years of experience in internet marketing come into play here. I can guide you through the thought process as to why a website should be built a specific way to satisfy those visiting it and, in turn, increase your sales or customer acquisition rate.
I will also explore the best method of deploying your site, whether it be a static HTML website or a comprehensive CMS (content management system) that you can update yourself, what contact forms, if any, will be needed, and any additional features that you may want incorporated into your site
Design & Development
Using the information above, it is now time to get down to the design and programming of your site. Again, your target audience is always my first consideration.
Generally I will develop the framework for your site, including a navigational system, a home page, a blog, if you require one, and your interior pages. This will serve as a template for the content of your website. Elements such as the CMS, forms, shopping carts, etc. are implemented at this phase, as well.
Don’t be fooled by website developers who tell you they will just take a free or £30 WordPress theme, and for a couple of hundred pounds, change it with your information and photos. While I may, at times, use themes as a base in my designs, generally they are highly customised by the time the entire site is completed, bearing very little resemblance to the original theme.
And, I never use “free” or “budget” themes as a starter base. Only highly rated and reputable theme works are allowed in my arsenal of web tools, as I want to make sure they are updated for security by the developer, when needed, and that I have the full support from the original developer if something should go wrong, which you won’t get with a free or budget theme.
Designing a website properly involves an understanding of how to write valid HTML5, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and PHP, that complies to current web standards, understand what responsive design means and how to design for it, and knowing how to maximise functionality and accessibility of your site to the largest audience possible.
If your website developer doesn’t fully understand what all that means, then I suggest running as quickly as possible to someone who does.
This is where the final site is moved to the server, if it wasn’t already being developed there, or moved to the root directory, if needed, and I begin the testing of its functionality and adding the finishing touches.
I make sure all forms and scripts work, as well as test for last minute compatibility issues, which includes viewing the site on different browsers and devices, ensuring it is optimised to be viewed properly on the most recent versions of browsers.
If you have an existing website, I make sure that page redirects are in place to your new site and set things up so you have minimal, if any, loss of SEO that has already been built up with search engines.
Delivery & Deployment
Once the site has final approval, I will deliver the site to you via an FTP (file transfer protocol), if you are handling the install yourself, or install onto your current server (log-in information will be needed to do this).
Even better would be if you decide to purchase your monthly hosting from me! This means your server will already be in place and ready to receive it with minimal downtime. I can help with transferring your domain and/or requirements to get the DNS pointing to your new server, if hosting is done through me.
My hosting packages start at around £10 per month, keeping me very competitive with traditional hosting. I also have website monthly support packages, which include hosting plus lots of other useful services in one bundle. Ask me for details.
If you are tempted to go with a free or “budget” website host, please read this valuable information before doing so. Save yourself the hassle and set your website up for success from the beginning.