When you first hire your web design company–or if you’re bravely embarking on this journey yourself–the first step is to have excellent communication and a clear plan. If you’re hiring a company, be sure that you’re on the same terms as to what can and will be accomplished, and how quickly. If you’re working with yourself, be honest about what your website will reasonably fulfill, and how much time you have to dedicate to it. This first step is really about forethought.
What is your website’s main task? What information should be shared online? What is the tone you’d like to convey to your site visitors? These are all vital questions that many companies skip over. By asking these fundamental–but often difficult–questions right from the start, you’ll streamline the actual design process.
After the planning and research has been completed, it’s time for you (or your design company) to begin sketching out what your website might look like. This stage varies greatly from designer to designer. At our firm, we tend to go straight into a mockup, which is a visual aid that shows what the home page of the website will look like. This is because we’ve done hundreds of websites before and are fairly experienced at putting doctor websites together. However, someone else might sketch out a wire frame on paper, which is a black and white simple drawing of how information will be organized.
It doesn’t relate to the visuals very much, but purely the organization. After the wire frames have been worked out for each page, the designers create a mockup that show what the design will actually look like, with photos and font choices, etc.
If you are designing the website yourself, you should decide what colors you want to use, how photos will be arranged, and what fonts will be used universally on your site. You can also create drafts of each page of your site using a program like Photoshop, or even with a paper and pencils. By the end of this stage, the look of your website should be completely settled, which will make the coding stage incredibly easier.