Our Step-by-Step Website Design Process

January 12, 2023




Website Design, Branding, Photography, Videography, Visualization, Care Plan, Website Audit

At the heart of every successful website design is a streamlined and efficient process. Sure the deliverable is important but it should always be coupled with an exceptional client experience.

That’s why, since opening my website design business in 2016, I’ve been dedicated to streamlining every aspect of this journey – from the initial inquiry to launch to continued support. Over the years, I’ve learned that the process is just as important as the result.

By focusing on delivering an outstanding experience from start to finish, it ensures every client feels heard, valued, and supported throughout the entire process. From setting clear expectations and timelines to providing regular updates and opportunities for feedback, my process is designed to ensure that every aspect of the design journey is smooth and stress-free.

A website design process that aims to deliver a beautiful, functional, and effective website that exceeds client expectations and achieves their goals is my top priority.

This process is split into two parts: the prep and the project. But there’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes before, during, and after each of those parts. This article will break down this entire process.

Every project begins with a conversation during a discovery call.

Most of my clients come from referrals or SEO. Regardless of the path that gets them to me, they’ll begin by reaching out to me via my contact form. As soon as they submit the form they’re redirected to my online scheduler where they can immediately book a day and time that works best for your discovery call. They’re also sent an automated email with a link to my scheduler in case they’re not in a position to book their call at that moment.

Once their discovery call is booked, they’ll receive a confirmation email with our appointment details and a Zoom link to join the call. They’ll receive one more reminder email the day before our appointment with the same details.

During the discovery call, I’ll ask a series of questions so I can fully understand their business, their project goals, and if I’d be the right fit for their project. This is also when they’ll get the chance to ask any outstanding questions and for them to get a sense if I’d be the right fit for them.

After the call, if the fit is right, I’ll send them a custom proposal outlining the details of their project. This also includes tentative project start and launch dates. Then, if they decide to move forward they’ll submit the proposal, review and sign my services agreement and submit a 30% deposit.

This then kicks off my onboarding process.

Once a new client moves forward, I’ll send them a welcome email with our next steps. This is usually a short and sweet “here’s what happens next” email. The goal of this email is to confirm their project is officially booked and invite them to book our project kickoff call.

Behind the scenes I run through my onboarding checklist getting them setup in Dubsado (for internal client management), Asana (for collaborative project management) and Google Drive (for sharing all the files).

The client is then invited to join the newly created Asana project. We’ll then meet for the project kickoff call. During this call, I’ll review how Asana works, discuss the project timeline, go over the prep work, discuss their tech stack and answer any outstanding questions.

After this call, the client will begin the assigned prep work.

Peek at my client prep work inside my website design process.

Client homework, or prep work, such as brand questionnaires and style preference forms, is essential in my website design process. This information provides a clear understanding of my client’s objectives and established a solid design direction.

My Brand Questionnaire helps kickstart the client-designer relationship and ensures I nail their project deliverables. Inside they’ll share key details about their business, brand, target audience, website goals, and more.

The Style Preferences form requests specific details on the desired aesthetic and vibe of the project. They’ll also find detailed instructions for creating an inspiration board on Pinterest to assist with the visual direction of the project.

My website design process requires all website photos and website copy to be shared prior to agreed upon start date.

Professional photography for your website is a must. Polished photos coupled with strategic copy and a solid design, your website will be attracting dream clients in no time.

During this phase, my clients will share their favorite shots and I’ll strategically place them throughout the website during the design and development phase. For clients with a portfolio, they’ll organize these photos in folders so I’ll clearly know which photo belongs to which project.

Website copy is also due during this phase. Messaging and copy should always come before the design. Placing website copy before the design phase ensures a user-centric approach, where the content drives the design decisions, resulting in a cohesive and engaging user experience.

We never want the copy to feel forced into predetermined design elements, compromising the clarity and effectiveness of the client’s messaging.

Clients have the option to work with our in-house copywriter or an outside copywriter of their choice. While they’re welcome to DIY their website copy, I alway recommend they at least explore investing in a professional copywriting.

The prep phase is then wrapped up with a website strategy session.

The website strategy session is a segway between the prep phase and project start. During this call, I’ll solidify the goals of the project, outline the website pages, discuss search engine optimization (SEO), review the submitted prep work and answer any outstanding questions.

With the prep work complete, we’re ready to kick off the website project itself.

This part of the process is also carefully structured and designed to be completed in about 30 days. I have found that this is the ideal timeline for delivering a beautiful, functional, and effective website that exceeds my clients’ expectations.

On one hand, it’s long enough to ensure that every aspect of the project is given the necessary time and attention to detail. On the other hand, it’s short enough to maintain momentum, stay focused, and avoid unnecessary delays.

This timeline allows me to stay fully immersed in the project, providing my clients with my undivided attention and creative energy. It also allows my clients to maintain their own focus on the project, knowing that they’ll have a fully functional website they love in a matter of weeks.

Here’s a week by week overview of a typical website project:

Week 1: Brand Design & Homepage Mockup

Rather than designing the entire website at once, I start with just the homepage. An effective homepage with a great design is paramount to the success of a website. When the design is nailed for this page, the rest of the site effortlessly falls into place.

If visual branding and logo design is a part of their project scope, I’ll begin sketching ideas for their new logo design. Once I have a concept I’m ready to run with, I begin designing it in Adobe Illustrator. Then, I’ll create logo variations and brand marks. During this time, I also browse hundreds (if not thousands) of fonts to ensure we have the perfect fit. Lastly, I create a custom color palette with their desired style and vibe in mind.

Once the brand identity is established, I’ll begin sketching the wireframe of the website homepage. This page sets the tone and captures the essence of the brand, making it crucial for the overall design. 

Just one week after their start date the client receives the first deliverable. I’ll record a video review walking through the design and a link for them to submit their feedback right on the homepage mockup.

Week 2: Design Refinements

Week 2 begins our first round of refinements. At this phase, the client will receive two rounds of refinements to submit their feedback and change requests. They’ll be able to submit their feedback right on the design itself, inside of the project management system, or live during a Zoom check-in call.

At the end of this week, the client approves the design direction and I’ll move onto the staging site.

Week 3: Website Design & WordPress Development

During Week 3, I will begin designing the rest of the website pages. I’ll create cohesive designs that align with the overall project goals. I’ll start by sketching and reviewing the designs before proceeding with the development phase. 

The development will take place on a WordPress staging site. This is where I’ll ensure that each brand element is carefully infused and the site is fully responsive. SEO is also implemented according to the agreed-upon strategy.

As the week progresses, I will continue to fine-tune the website design and development. Here I’ll make sure that it aligns with the client’s brand and desired aesthetic. By the end of the week, I will share a link to the staging site for the client to review.

Week 4: Website Refinements

During Week 4, I continue to collaborate with the client and make refinements based on their feedback. The typical project scope includes two rounds of refinements. At this phase, clients can easily click and submit feedback and change requests directly on the staging site. Then, at the end of the week, once the website is approved, I begin prepping for launch day.

Week 5: Launch Day!

On their launch day, they are my top priority. This whole day is dedicated to them. Following a series of quality checks, I walk through a thorough testing process. Then we move the approved staging site over to its live domain. I follow this by linking their Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts. I’ll also add all relevant keyword phrases and meta descriptions.

Support & Training

To ensure they’re comfortable with their new website, I’ll provide them with a Website Owner’s Manual. This includes their login credentials, video tutorials, and additional frequently asked questions.

Each project includes 2 weeks of follow-up support and a final Zoom strategy call. This grants space for any last-minute questions that might pop up as they dive into their new website.

Moving forward, they’re welcome to roll into a Website Care Plan for worry-free, expert support any day of the week. Or for a one-time update or refresh, they can utilize my hourly support services.

A new website is usually just the beginning of the relationship. I love working with clients on an ongoing basis.

Dedicated to providing a website design process that is personalized and carefully crafted to produce results.

I firmly believe that a well-designed website can make a significant impact on a business. This is why I take the time to understand each client’s goals. Then, I work with them to bring their vision to life. With a focus on collaboration and communication, my process allows my clients to provide feedback and make changes throughout the project.

Whether it’s a brand new website or an overhaul of an existing website, every aspect of my process is designed to help my clients succeed online.

If you’re looking for a website designer who will work with you every step of the way, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I would love to discuss how I can help you achieve your business goals through the power of great design. Click here to book a Discovery Call.