Despite the fact that there are tools and automated systems that almost seem to do the work for you, webpage design continues to be a highly skilled business endeavor. One of the reasons for this is because it’s one of the least-straightforward careers to master.
In any industry, to become more skilled, we tend to think about creating an optimal work flow pattern – but in website design, it’s more of a matrix.
If a typical profession were a straight line, then web design would be more of a tapestry. In this article, we’ll talk about some of the threads that are woven together into nearly every web design project.
Webpage Design Preparation
Preparing for a webpage design project requires considerable preparation both on the part of the client, and the designer.
There’s the consultation, the materials-gathering, the mock-ups, content research, web hosting “sanity check,” and more. Omitting any step can cause delays, wasted money, and in the worst of cases, an outright failed project.
When consulting a client, arriving at common ground about the language and expectations is a challenge for new web designers.
While this is true of any technology service, webpage design suffers from the appearance of being straightforward.
Few clients expect a programmer’s job to be as simple as the project’s outcome appears. But with webpage design, clients often fall under the impression that you, the designer, can just “slap it together” in a heartbeat. This can lead to issues during the project, if the client doesn’t appreciate the need for thoughtful foresight before the work begins.
All the other prep steps are similar, albeit less prone to miscommunication.
Without content planning, the structure of individual webpages within the site could change shape dramatically mid-project, affecting the original navigation decisions or even the templates as a whole.
Presenting alternative mockups guarantees that the client has a chance to give feedback before you’re too far in.
Doing a web hosting reality check to compare desired features, against actual web hosting features, saves costs and time.
Webpage Design Priorities
Every project has different priorities. We talked about this in detail in another article, “What to Do Before You Create a Website.”
In essence, the message of that article was this: Your client doesn’t really “Just need a webpage,” no matter what they say. In reality, they need a website that helps them accomplish specific business goals, and they’re going to want to prioritize certain goals to get the most out of their webpage design budget.
Webpage Design Niches
Which brings us to the topic of niches. Each niche comes with a handful of ready-made priorities for webpage design budgets.
For retailers, it’s e-commerce. For most service industries, the priority is gaining qualified leads. For events, it’s enabling reservations. For media outlets, it’s streaming audio and video.
It’s a rare business model indeed, that needs nothing more than a web-based brochure to do nothing more than advertise.
Entering into the webpage design field requires you to understand some of these built-in priorities before you serve a client in a given niche, in order to become truly successful.