The 10-Step Design Process

Not every designer is the same; some begin designing a website by laying out the content, while others start in a fresh Photoshop document. Each has their own way of dealing with clients and each charges different rates. While it’s hard to say what you should charge, it’s rather easy to find a pattern and stick to it.

I personally begin in Photoshop, but there’s a lot that comes before that.

1. Initial Contact. Your initial meeting with your client is very important. It’s important that you pay close attention to the way the client speaks and presents his or herself. It’ll help you get a feel for what they’re trying to do with their website.

2. Planning. Before you begin any drafting you need to ask your client some essential questions concerning materials, payment, colors, logo, content, etc. Everything you need to know prior to doing any actual work should be gathered in this stage. It’s also a good idea to get a down payment to prevent the client from dropping out of the deal after you’ve done all your work. This money should also be used for materials like fonts, brushes, any outsourcing, etc. All contracts should be signed and even notarized in this stage.

3. Drafting. Based on the information you’ve gathered you should now begin drafting a sample website for the client. Start with a simple grid you’d like to follow and from there add colors, effects and any other specialties you’d like to add to give life to the design. Fill in any content areas with Lorem Ipsum text as well.

4. Variations and Client Approval. After you’ve created multiple variations of the same basic design present them to the client. To prevent ripping you may wish to watermark your images. At this point no coding should have been done. Once the design has been selected and approved you should discuss a final website launch and payment date, along with any other services you may offer. Now is a great time to tell your clients about copy writing if they haven’t already provided content, and telling them about Search Engine Optimization is very important. Make sure they know it is the key to the success of their website.

5. Coding. Now that you’ve gotten approval on the design it’s time to chop up the design and begin coding it in your favorite editor, preferably in CSS, but to each his own.

6. Presentation. Present the design once more to the client now that it’s been fully coded and see if they’d like any minor changes such as width, colors, etc. Make sure your launch date is finalized by this point.

7. Launch Preparation. Now that the website is complete make sure the server and all other components are ready, such as Content Management Systems, Flash Applications, JavaScript’s, etc. Also begin optimizing the website for search engines and get it listed on any design directories and news websites that will help with the promotion process.

8. Launch. Launch the website by removing the holder or teaser page on the date you agreed upon.

9. Payment. Shortly after the launch or on the same day you should receive final payment from the client. To get on their good side it may be a good idea to throw a tiny party for the website launch (if dealing with a large or medium sized company) or purchase a tiny gift like a cake (when dealing with small companies)

10. Gather References. As I’ve mentioned, it’s important that you gather any references or quotes now that the project is complete. Make sure you add all this to your portfolio.

Follow this simple set of steps from start to finish and you should be able to easily and effectively complete a website and deal with your clients too. Like I said, everyone has their own methods, but I find this way to be extremely easy to follow.

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3 Comments

Filed under business, Design, Graphic Design, Media, Web Design

3 responses to “The 10-Step Design Process

  1. I’ve made so many mistakes designing websites for clients (eg performing SEO after the design and not making Photoshop mockups before coding). Great list!

  2. Hmm…Zeerus I think this is a great list. I will definately jot those down, It can prevent careless mistakes.
    P.S Im not on your blog roll? …..ouch

  3. Sweet new blog design. hey email me, i want to syndicate this article on logopond in the resource area

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