26 Jun ‘18
Web Design for Clients: What to Expect When You’re Expecting
26 Jun ‘18
In: Client Services, Content Management Systems (CMS), Nonprofit Resources, Web Design & Development, / By: Chris Simental
Every year we complete over a dozen web design and web redesign projects. The experience level of each of our clients can vary greatly—some have participated in several web design projects, others have never gone through the process at all. This article is meant to provide an overview of the web design process, specifically to give clients and potential clients with limited experience some insight into what to expect when they embark on a new project with us.
The Web Design Process
We’ve seen that an enthusiastic, productive start is one of the keys to any successful endeavor. During the Discovery phase, Ripe will conduct a brainstorming or kick-off meeting in which we will spend significant time discussing the desired project outcomes, risks, and success factors as well as identifying team members, roles, responsibilities and overall process. At the conclusion of this phase, the scope of the project will be fully determined and the team prepared to mindfully move forward.
User Experience / Information Architecture
The UX/IA phase is where the groundwork is laid for a successful launch/relaunch. This phase is critical for meeting your desired goals. The below tasks all build upon each other and incorporate UX best practices while focusing on the target audiences’ point of view.
Ripe’s user experience process:
- Conduct Stakeholder Interviews: These are individual, one-on-one interviews with you and your stakeholders.
- Business Requirements Document: This outlines project scope, restrictions and constrains. As well as project assumptions, cost, stakeholders, and project completion criteria.
- User Personas: Personas are fictional, generalized characters that encompass the various needs, goals, and observed behavioral patterns among your real and potential audience members.
- Site Map: This deliverable identifies the hierarchy of content that supports the project objectives and will most clearly communicate to users.
- Wireframing: Ripe will produce static wireframes of unique site page templates.
Once the wireframes are developed it’s time to inject the copy and content into the site structure. Sometimes clients handle the copywriting themselves, but we offer our copywriting and copyediting services in cases where they are needed. Client’s often use our copywriting services as a way to add flare to the messaging and to confirm that the copy is uniform in style, voice and grammar.
Once the final copy is ready it is put into Ripe’s GatherContent tool which allows for a smooth, efficient transition from UX/IA to final copy for the website launch.
No web design project would be complete without visual design! Ripe is known for award-winning art direction and design because we understand the context of design and see each communication piece as an enormous opportunity to elevate and further cultivate your organization’s brand.
Ripe has valuable experience working with existing client style guidelines and developing a fresh, new take on them. Our creative venture begins with Ripe designers becoming fully immersed in a Creative Brief we develop through collaboration with you to gather visual style preferences, define the expectations of your audience and cite industry-specific examples. Internally, we conduct research and develop preliminary sketches, explore stylistic themes and brainstorm to produce innovative approaches to the strategically branded user experience.
We then provide 1-3 different homepage web design “comps” along with 1-3 interior pages to share, revise, and finalize the look and feel of the site.
This is where we put all of our assumptions and user experience thinking to the test by getting our work in front of actual users and where Ripe’s strategic approach and promise of producing a fresh, exciting design comes into play.
Usability testing includes:
- An in-person, moderated usability study
- 4-6 participants (one day of testing, usually at our office)
- Interactive comps (developed by Ripe)
- 3-5 main tasks and up to 10 follow-up questions used in this study will focus on gathering qualitative user feedback on the main tasks commonly performed using the site
Based on what the usability test reveals, we’ll make adjustments and determine how and when to integrate any larger changes or features.
Front-End Development: HTML/CSS/jQuery
Our HTML markup includes the following key features:
- Responsive design for an optimized experience across desktop, mobile and smartphones, all from a single code base.
- Fast loading pages & W3C Valid XHTML
- Compatibility with IE, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome including mobile devices
- Built to the accessibility standards as established by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
- Table-less Coding (Note: We do use tables for tabular data.)
- SEO Optimized Semantic coding
- Separation of content and presentation layers
- Code that ensures the privacy, security and integrity of the site’s content
Back-End Development and Content Management System (CMS) Integration
A Content Management System is a crucial part of a website’s sustainability. A CMS must be easy to use, flexible, scalable, available at all times, and cost effective. Ripe has worked with just about every major CMS platform including WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Expression Engine, SquareSpace, and Wix.
There are pros and cons of each platform and sometimes the decision simply comes down to the level of comfort your team has with either platform. We are also always open to considering other platforms if you have a specific preference. If a CMS hasn’t been decided upon by the start of the project, our preliminary meetings are a great time to discuss the possibilities.
Final QA Cycles
Ripe will conduct quality assurance and platform testing all along the way. But once the site is fully built, we’ll confirm all the viewports for the responsive displays are working properly and that content is being displayed beautifully.
You will have complete insight into our process and sufficient time for your own QA, reviews, issue/change logging and approvals. Once Ripe has completed QA, you will conduct your final round of testing in preparation for launch.
If this is your first time participating in a web design or redesign project, we hope the above overview has helped you better understand what to expect. We’re always available to chat and help you see the possibilities, so feel free to contact us any time or, if you’re in the Los Angeles area, we can set up a meeting at our office.
Happy web designing!