For the past few years, I’ve gone back and forth offering website design. I know that a website is one of the most crucial components to building an online brand, but the process always felt confusing and stressful for both our team and our clients. I believe that a website primarily needs to WORK for your business, not just look pretty. We’ve collaborated with some amazing contract designers and developers over the years, but an opportune trip to Yellowstone in February became the start of a wonderful web partnership. My friend Joel is the co-founder of an app called Sellout. His background is in UX design, which means he’s an expert when it comes to organizing information digitally so that a viewer has an enjoyable experience, resulting in a sale. Turns out, this was the missing piece to our process, as tools and design trends change, but human behavior remains fairly consistent.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve worked on two initial projects and solidified a process that we think will take out the stress and confusion that often arises when setting up a digital home base. Today, I’m excited to share that process with you and officially say that our web services are open for business!
Step One: Initial Inquiry
Our process starts with filling out a form. In the past, the inquiry process has felt very disjointed, so this time we’ve split it into a few steps as you’ll see below. There are so many details to capture in the early stages of a website, and we never felt like we were able to grasp the full scope of work with our previous process.
Our goal with this inquiry form is to get a general sense of what a potential client is looking for. Once the inquiry is submitted, an automated email will be sent that includes a link to schedule a 15-minute “Get to Know You” call.
Step Two: ‘GTKY’ Call
You might be wondering how we schedule so many inquiry calls. I’ve fallen in love with an app called Calendly that syncs with my Google Calendar and makes it really easy for someone to book a meeting without the back and forth of comparing schedules. Whether we jump on a call or FaceTime, this is a chance for me to connect with the potential client and see if our personalities are a good match for the collaborative approach we take to design.
It’s hard to get a sense of someone’s style and personality through email, so this call is an important way to align before any work begins. The call usually lasts about 15 minutes, and during that time I ask questions about the current state of the business, website, or idea and the target market, as well as answer any questions the client might have about our studio. This information will help us determine if the project is a good fit before we dive into the details.
Step Three: Deep-Dive Discovery
The Deep-Dive Discovery is one of Joel’s ideas and an addition to our process. One of our pain points was the length of time it took to understand the scope of a website before we were able to provide an accurate estimate. Then came the problem of communicating what content we would need and when. Basically, before we were even able to begin design, there were so many opportunities for frustration and miscommunication to happen and derail the entire project.
With the new Deep-Dive, Joel and I will jump on a video conference with our client to talk in-depth about what we want to accomplish. We’ll go through every function and feature, look at inspirational websites, and talk about ideas. The goal for this meeting is to determine the architecture of the site – determining each page and the content that will be needed in order to make it an outstanding brand asset.
Once the Deep-Dive Discovery is complete, we’ll send over two web planning tools:
Sitemap – a PDF that shows an overview of the entire site, and includes a content checklist
Wireframe – a digital presentation of how each page will be organized and relate to one other
At this point, we’ll provide an accurate estimate for completing the website in-house. However, the client can also choose to take the wireframe and sitemap to either complete the site on their own or hire a different team to execute. This adds to the collaborative and transparent approach we’ve always had in our branding process, and eliminates any confusion or hesitancy with a web investment. No matter if a client chooses to work with us on the full project or not, I know we’ll have given them a valuable tool for creating a site that’s sure to convert.
Step Four: Home Page & Style Guides
Our next step in the process is to design the home page. A home page is important for setting the style and tone for the rest of the site. During this phase, we establish how the navigation and footer will look, and determine most of the style preferences that will translate from page-to-page. I’ll also design both a desktop and mobile view so that we can have a conversation about each experience and how the content from desktop will translate over to mobile viewing.
We include two rounds of revisions to the home page and style guidelines so that we can solidify a general look and feel before designing the rest of the site. This is the first impression of the site, so nailing down the look and feel is important.
Step Five: Full-Site Design
Once we’ve landed on a home page we’re all excited about, I move into the full-site design. Content needs will continue to be refined as each page comes to life! While it’s much easier to work with close-to-final photography from the get-go, it’s not always possible. We tend to like the creative freedom of working with placeholder text and filling in later, and often we’ll find opportunities for visual reference (like photos, illustrations, or infographics) and add it to our list of content needs as we go.
Once we present the full-site design, it’ll feel like a living, breathing website. You’ll be able to interact with each page and experience the site in a nearly-complete version, so editing becomes much easier. We’ll go through two rounds of design revisions to refine all aspects of the site, and get final approval before moving on to development.
Step Six: Website Development
During development, we give Joel some space to make the website legit. There’s not much to review at this point, so it’s a great opportunity to finalize all of the copy for the final site. Joel will integrate any third-party apps that need to work on the site, and make sure that each component is responsive, each page SEO-friendly, and each detail works together to create a strong and cohesive experience. Once he finishes developing the site, we’ll review as a team to troubleshoot and look for any errors before launching.
Step Seven: Prep for Launch
It’s almost time to launch, and at this stage, we begin to talk about a launch strategy. We want to drive as much traffic as possible to your new site so that you can begin seeing the results of the new design. This is also a chance for us to provide site training, and talk about a maintenance plan moving forward. Our goal is to create a website that improves your business without adding stress to your day.
Step Eight: Launch & Maintain
And finally, it’s time to share your site with the world! We’ll blast an announcement on social media, give you beautiful graphics to post, and check in periodically to make sure everything is running smoothly.
I am so excited about this new process and getting to work with such an amazing team. Our calendar is filling up fast for the spring, so be sure to click the link below to get on our calendar!
Want your own website?
If this looks like just the customized, hands-on
website approach you’ve been looking for, we’d love
to work with you!
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