I get 3 questions about web design more than any other: What is the process? How is a site maintained? and When is it time for a redesign? These questions sum up the 3 Big Picture phases of a web site’s life.
Here are my answers to the questions above about web design from a Big Picture point of view:
Phase 1. Design, Development, Deployment
The web Design phase consists of creating how it looks, Development is the code behind a good site, Deployment is when we officially launch the site.
Web design begins with fleshing out a concept for your business’ website. Through various rounds of revisions the sites user interface (UI) – the graphics that make navigating your site intuitive – become final, and once you’re satisfied with how it looks we focus more on Development, or how it operates. Development often has periods of silent time where the developer is working on code to make sure that the site is going to work perfectly once deployed. The code also plays into how the site is found by search engines. Once Design and Development are complete we sometimes launch a beta version of the site for live testing. After bugs have been worked out we encourage businesses to make a formal announcement through various media (traditional and social).
Keep in mind: Your branding partner or designer should either have a strategic partnership with development resources, or be able to do it themselves. Make sure this is covered in writing in your agreement. Know the costs for URL reservation, hosting, email, etc. before moving forward.
Phase 2. Maintenance: DIY or Tune-ups?
Free and open CMS resources like WordPress and Joomla allow business owners to update their content the DIY way. Some business owners prefer to contract their designer for regular website tune-ups such as quarterly or monthly updates to the site.
Before you head into a website design project you should talk with your designer about how the site will be built. If you want to maintain it yourself make sure your designer knows. If you want to leave maintenance to someone in-house or your designer, make sure they know that, too. There are cost-saving measures that can be taken advantage of no matter how you want to keep your site up to date. Point being, a site can no longer be deployed and left standing. It must be maintained, or it becomes stale.
Phase 3. Redesign: When Is It Time?
If your website was designed more than 3 years ago, there’s a good chance it’s due for a redesign. Aside from style changes to how sites are created, the back-end technology has changed too, and that is impacting how your site is being found via search engines.
A redesign is not starting over. There are myriad ways to refresh your site using existing branding. It’s like holding a box in your hands. You can look at it head-on for a while and after a while that perspective gets old and boring. Simply turn the box to a different angle and now your experience of the same box (your brand) is different, refreshing.
If any or all of these resonate with you, and you’d like to talk further about how any or all of these impact your specific business, we can set a time to talk.