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Your business is different to everyone else’s, so your website deserves to be unique. It should fit seamlessly with your brand as a whole, and work well alongside your wider marketing plan, social media channels and your actual work.

Your website is a long-term project, changing and growing with your business. That is why I think it is so important to collaborate with a web designer you can trust, who understands your aims and with whom you can communicate openly.

My approach to design is considered, thoughtful, and based on building solid foundations for a website that will work well for you for a long time.

Over the years I’ve fine-tuned my design process to support this approach. It’s broken into four distinct stages: Scoping, Wireframing, Design and Build. This provides structure and clarity so everyone knows what’s going on, and the project runs smoothly and efficiently.

1. Scoping

The first stage is about discussing your business and its short- and long-term goals, and how your website can support those. I prefer doing this in person (if you’re in the Manchester area), but Skype also works.

By articulating your reasons for wanting a new website, we can shape the whole project.

At this stage I also explain what software I’ll use, and show you how similar websites I’ve built look and work. Typically, this is when ideas for your new site start flowing!

If we’re redesigning an existing website I will assess its current design, performance and usability, as well as study any existing usage data which will help show us where things can be improved.

If you don’t have a strong brand look, I will hook you up with a trusted graphic designer who can create branding for you (for example I worked with Greg Whitehead who designed the branding for the Furbellow & Co site).

The Scoping step is concluded when I send you a proposal outlining what I’ll deliver and when, what is required, and the payment terms. This is our project specification going forward.

2. Wireframing

Wireframes are unbranded layouts that show how the website will be structured and where each piece of content will go. I’m a huge advocate of wireframes!

I use them to ensure we have a solid structure and decent foundations for the site before getting caught up in how things will look (branding and aesthetics become important later on in the process).

The main aim now is working out the key content and website structure, which is where the wireframes come in.

Wireframes for the GoVida website, designed to promote their new app encouraging health and wellbeing in the workplace

When I show you the wireframes, I’ll explain how my designs will benefit your performance in search and how they will allow customers to easily complete their tasks.

It also makes it simple to see where there are gaps in your content.

If changes are needed, it’s much easier to make those now rather than when everything is designed and branded (this can cause delays).

3. Design

Once we move from abstract wireframes to full designs, it starts to feel like a real website.

With the content and structure nailed down in the wireframes, I create full web designs using your branding.

I’ll show you the homepage and one or two other pages to make sure you like the direction I’m taking before completing this stage.

When designing the BeerStork website, I created the layout during the wireframe stage before the branding was applied by Creative Wilderness. We also decided the right hand column was too tall so we moved the sale badge over to the left to save space.

4. Build

The finished BeerStork website, with lots of handy functionality  to make it work well on phones.

Once you’ve approved the designs, I build your functioning website. A good website should load fast, be easy to use, show up on search engines and perform well on phones. If the previous three stages have been completed correctly, the build is simply a matter of bringing it all together.

I typically program in HTML, CSS, Javascript and PHP, and use WordPress as a Content Management System. I don’t work with pre-built WordPress themes as they are typically inefficient and not conducive to fast load times or search engine optimisation.

I set up a development server for testing and presentation, and I’ll show you how to use the admin area to upload content.

After testing and sign-off, I’ll recommend a reputable hosting company to ensure website speed and security.

Time to launch! Once it’s live, I’ll run the website through a speed tester and perform any additional optimisation tasks as well as submitting the site to Google.

Ongoing

Remember how I said in the beginning a website is a long-term project? Ongoing website maintenance is a crucial part of your site’s success.

Part of this is measuring website usage and performance over time, and to continually make tweaks along the way to improve engagement.

By doing this you are providing a better experience for your users as well as showing search engines that you are a site worth promoting in search.

If you’d like to chat about a new website for your business, get in touch!

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