Since website design is such a complex process, it can be difficult to understand the scope of web design services. So, here’s your guide to everything a web designer does; and everything they don’t do.
Let’s start with one of the most frequently asked questions small business owners ask themselves: do I need a professionally designed website?
Well, we’ll let you decide.
- 38% of visitors will stop engaging with a website if the design is unattractive, and 48% say the design of the website is the most important factor in determining a business’ credibility (Blue Corona)
- 98% of people who’ve had a bad website experience will shop with a competitor (Web FX)
- 61% of consumers plan to spend more time online post the covid-19 pandemic than before it (Salesforce)
And the list of stats goes on. With more people online than ever before, more websites, the standard for web design is very high. If you want your business to succeed, you must have a well-designed, technically optimized and mobile-friendly website.
If you’re reluctant to hire designers and developers, due to the amount of time and money this requires, you can still try to create your own website or landing page with the help of some online tools. Wix and Shopify are among the most popular website builders, while Elementor and Instapage are just a few of the many great platforms for creating landing pages.
If, however, you want something that looks professional, is user-friendly and perfectly captures your brand image, then you will need to hire a design professional for the job.
Let’s take a look at the design process: what is the scope of work for web designers and developers, and what responsibilities a web design client has.
Identifying the goal of your website: client
Before a designer starts working, or before you even consider hiring a designer, you need to properly identify the purpose of your website.
It’s easy to see how a SaaS business that operates fully online will require a different website than, say, a local coffee shop. In order to properly define your website’s purpose, you should answer the following questions:
- Who is your target audience
- How will they use the website: (for information about the business, purchase, online tools, etc.)
- Is it a website or landing page: if you need a company website, you might need to include all the relevant background information about your business; in case you just need a page for a product or campaign
- In the case of a landing page, what is the main call to action (CTA)
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There are many more questions you might want to consider such as how are you different from your competitors, or what kinds of feelings do you want to evoke with website visitors. However, the 4 points mentioned above are absolutely essential for properly identifying your website goal.
Defining the scope: client & designer
Scope creep is the term used for additional tasks that come up as the project is already being worked on. It’s a very common part of the project, but if the scope creep is very big, it means the project scope hadn’t been defined properly at the beginning.
With a project as complex as web design, it’s absolutely essential to define exactly what the expected deliverables are, and in what time frame.
For example, do you need a mobile website, as well as a desktop version? Do you need custom design elements created, such as fonts, graphics etc? All of this should be outlined in the design contract that needs to be approved by both the client and the designer. Once the expectations are clear, it’s finally time to get to work.
No design project comes out of thin air. After the client has done the necessary research in order to write a good design brief, a designer also needs to dedicate time to find relevant project and research competitor websites (remember, professional designers will be able to get a different insight than you regarding design).
Wireframes are visualizations of the basic look and layout of your web pages, and together they create a complete sitemap. This is a critical step in ensuring that the website goals are evident for anyone landing on it.
This is often something whole design teams work on together: UI designers ensure that the layout makes sense and that the site provides visual guidance for visitors. UX designers are concerned with information architecture, or grouping the information in a way that helps visitors have the best experience.
Image source: G2
Content creation: client/marketing team
While the design is without any doubt critical for the success of any website, without SEO it definitely won’t rank well in search engine results. Meaning, potential clients won’t even have the chance to discover your beautiful website.
Before the website can actually be designed, designers need to have all the copy at their disposal.
While minor changes can be made after the design is finished, adding or removing large blocks of text can disrupt the balance and layout, and require the designer to start all over.
Creating the content for the website is the job of digital marketing teams, as these professionals will have the knowledge of relevant search engine optimization techniques and industry trends which need to be included in the web design.
Designing the website: designer
Finally, your team is ready to start working on the actual graphic design part. For this part, they’ll need to have access to your brand guidelines, to ensure that the website matches the overall look and style of the brand.
Web design projects can be done in several different programs, and you ought to specify whether you have a preference beforehand. Here are some of the most popular programs for web design:
- Adobe XD
We’ve already talked about the importance of written content for your website, so it’s time to take a quick look at just how important visuals are in creating the perfect experience. In fact, it’s since we only remember about 20% of what we read, and 80% of what we hear, relaying key information in a visual manner is a great way to ensure a positive user experience.
This is where graphic design skills really pay off. Stock photos and product shots are great, but creating custom visuals that tell site visitors what your business is all about is another level altogether.
Another thing that a professional UI designer will have in mind is the importance of load time. Around half (47%) of consumers expect a website to load within 2 seconds, while 40% abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
All the graphics and images used on your website need to be of high quality, but remember that they should also be optimized (or compressed) for web use, so as not to slow the website down.
Site development: developers
Just in case you might be wondering about this, most UX/UI designers aren’t developers; meaning that while they are in charge of building a website, they can’t actually get it to work.
Web development requires knowledge of coding languages such as CSS or HTML, and there are specific professionals who do this, called web developers.
Since web development is more of a technical, and less of a creative process, expect to pay less for this part of the process than web design. If you require a very simple website (without things like web apps, dynamic content etc.), you can find affordable development services on many freelancing platforms.
Testing: developers, designers, client
When it comes to websites, and especially web and mobile apps, the work is probably never done. There are always new features to test out and glitches to fix.
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This starts with the initial testing phase. This is the moment where you want to check if everything is working properly, the pages are loading quickly, and the website looks good on all devices and browsers.
It’s a trying process for sure, but definitely worthwhile, as you don’t want to present a buggy product to potential customers.
At this stage, it’s a great idea to bring in someone outside the project, to test that the overall user experience is positive. Sometimes even the smallest change like making the font size bigger, or changing the color of a button can help users have a better experience.
And the big day is finally here! While it’s the developers task to actually make your site live, make sure that you and your team of digital marketers have created a buzz around the big launch. Send a newsletter to your contacts, or create a social media campaign.
Where to find web designers?
Now that you know what a web designer does, you might want to check out some major web design companies to work with. If however, you want to get a custom website without paying the big bucks some of these design agencies charge, make sure to check out unlimited design services! Depending on the service you opt for, you will need to hire an external developer, but for an affordable monthly rate, you can get all your web design needs met - and so much more!