Designing a beautiful website that is pleasing to the client takes multiple steps. The design of the site is very important and designers will naturally want to make the site aesthetically pleasing, but the highest priority should be to meet the needs of the client. Sometimes the information given by the client is detailed and elaborate, but they could also just give essential information and leave most of the details to the designer. Failing to listen carefully can lead to the failure of the entire project and won’t do justice for the designer’s reputation. There is a process for creating a successful design comp that deals with three key tasks: Discovery, Analysis and Implementation.
You might be asking, “What’s a design comp?” Well, a design comp is an image layout of what the client wants, which is created before beginning the prototype design in HTML. This is also known as a mock-up of the design. Below is an outline of the three key steps in building a design comp.
The discovery phase of the design process is when St Pete Design meets with clients to learn what the clients do exactly. Gathering information about who your clients are and how their business is run is essential to coming up with a suitable and effective design.
Before we have our first meeting with clients, we spend some time researching their business. If the client asked us to create a website, it’s a good possibility that they do not already have one or their current website is poorly designed. We gather as much information as possible about the client’s business and their industry before the first meeting. We Google the client to see if they already have a website, but if they don’t, then we try to gather additional information from other sources.
We prefer the first meeting with our clients to be in person. If the client is not located within a close distance to us, then the meeting will take place over the phone, or on Skype. This first meeting is all about communication, listening and establishing what the client wants. We emphasize listening more than speaking, which allows our client to get their wants and needs across effectively, and then writing down the details of that conversation. Meeting with clients in our offices, in cafes for coffee or over lunch is an effective way to make a business meeting more personal.
Here are some questions that we ask clients, even if we know the answer from our research:
• What does the company do?
• What is your role in the company?
• Does the company have an existing logo or brand?
• What is your goal in developing a website?
• What information do you want to provide online?
• Who comprises your target audience? Age, sex, location?
• Who are your competitors and do they have websites?
• Do you have examples of websites that you like or dislike?
• What kind of timeline do you have for the project and what is the budget?
For a redesign of an existing website:
• What are your visitors usually looking for when they come to your site?
• What are the problems with your current design?
• What do you hope to achieve with a redesign?
• Are there any elements of the current site that you want to keep?
The next phase of the design process is to take the information that we received from our clients, analyze the info and then use that to build the website. We get an understanding of the products and services the client offers and then analyze how that information can be arranged within the website. We put ourselves in the shoes of the users ( the people who visit the website) and try to grasp what these people are looking for. If users are thinking about buying a product, what information they need to know before they buy it? If users are signing up for a service, where they can learn about the service and which level of service they need? Create the clearest possible way for a user to get where they need to go the website.
To do this, we use information architecture, or IA, as the beginning process for a website, which gives you the guiding principles to provide a solid foundation. The Exploration stage focuses on organizing the content and flow of a website into a structure that we can then design around. You don’t want users feeling overwhelmed while searching the site. It is crucial that all the information they desire is one click away from any page on the website, essentially having all information as easy to reach as possible.
Now that we’ve gone through the first two steps, the next phase is the Implementation of the design process, creating the layout. Creating the design for the interface is the most important step because every user is going to see and be on that page, so the overall look is critical. Do not worry about the technical abilities of the website until we get an approval of the actual layout, which should first be presented to the client. This will give them an idea of what the design is going to look like and then give them the chance to change anything.
While there are many stages in the design process, these are the most important steps that need to be taken in order to implement what the client wants. The process may seem simple, but it is a process that takes patience and creativity in order to wind up with a pleased customer.