Developing a purposeful website that provides value and drives conversions is an ongoing process that every business must undergo. Once your organization knows its purpose, direction and voice, it’s time to start building a quality presence on the web

Although web design is ongoing, the beginning stages of such a project require careful consideration and attention to detail. After reflecting on the websites we’ve developed for clients, here are the five most important steps to the web design process.

Remember, for many websites, the web design process is centered around driving conversions on the site. 

Site Map

Creating a site map benefits both the site user and search engines in finding content and navigating your website. A site map is generally an XLM document that organizes content in a hierarchical manner, based on what’s most important to your business. Site maps also identify pages that are able to be crawled, so search engines can understand your content and present it to  high-intent audiences. 

Generally, search engines don’t check for a new site map each time they crawl through your site. To ensure the bots are seeing your new or updated site map, you’ll need to submit it to Google, Bing, or whichever search engine you’re focusing on. 

Content Strategy 

‘Content Strategy’ encompasses the organization, creation, delivery & maintenance of all digital content posted on a website. Developing a content strategy and abiding to it will make it easier to provide valuable and relevant content in a consistent manner. 

Keyword Research

Keyword research is an essential early stage of web development that many agencies and individuals skip. Creating content that will reach a highly-engaged audience is only possible through extensive keyword research. Understanding your audience’s pain points or gaps in knowledge will set you up to create more relevant content & place higher on Search Engine Results Page (SERP.) 

Information Hierarchy 

When you’re developing a content strategy for your website, consider what information is most important to your business. Ask yourself – when a user comes to my website, what’s most important for them to understand about my business? Each page should be approached with this question in mind  while enabling users to find the solution they’re searching for through clear calls to action. 

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Design & Style Guide 

Developing a style guide for your organization’s website will help your content remain consistent. A complete style guide will include guidelines for visual & written content – both crucial for brand-recognition. 

Brand Positioning

Brand positioning refers to your organization’s placement in the minds of its customers. Strong brand positioning is developed through the dependable presence of a meaningful brand, delivered primarily through a website. 

Here are some key considerations to keep in mind when developing your brand positioning:

  • Mission statement – A mission statement defines the ‘WHY’ of your organization. It shares what your company’s goals are, and the motivations behind those goals. 
  • Color palette – Choosing a cohesive color scheme for your website will help users recognize your brand. Colors can conjure feelings and other connotations that will ultimately be associated with your brand – so choose carefully! 
  • Editorial guide – An editorial guide, or style sheet, is a set of guidelines for writing, designing and formatting written content to your website. An editorial guide will help your organization’s voice and tone remain consistent.
  • Typography – Choosing the right font can attract or repel your target audience. A font can convey an impression of playfulness, professionalism, or creativity to users.
  • ‘About Us’ Pages – An ‘About Us’ page is an opportunity to share a part of your organization’s culture with visitors to your site. Share the background of your business, and more about why your organization does what it does. 

Visual Identity

Your visual identity is important to guide website expansion and the creation of advertising assets. Beyond color palettes & fonts, your organization’s visual identity includes promotional assets such as your logo & other identifiable icons. 

Before making headway on the development stage, creating high-fidelity mockups of your site can make it easier to test designs without disrupting the website itself. 

Development 

Now, the fun part – building your website. In this article, we won’t get into lessons on HTML, CSS, or cybersecurity, but will primarily focus on front-end development (what users actually see.) 

For these efforts, we here at Breezy Hill employ either WordPress or SquareSpace to tell our clients’ stories and drive their business. These development platforms, combined with our staff’s coding knowledge, allows us to streamline our web development process & start building our client’s presence immediately. These intuitive development platforms make the process far easier, and allow for easy updates to your site once it goes live. 

Your website is your first point of contact for prospective clients, investors, future employees, vendors, and more – which is why it’s crucial to have a professionally-developed website. There are advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing marketing projects in your business, but web development is simply too important to exclude professional help. 

Testing & Deployment 

Once your website has been drafted & fully designed, it’s important to thoroughly vet the site for bugs or other issues. This quality assurance testing involves four key functions, which every site should be proficient in. 

  1. Functionality – The website works as intended. All links work as they should, and the site’s appearance is as desired. 
  2. Compatibility – The website works across all possible browsers, screen sizes, and devices. Responsive web design is crucial for a successful website in 2021.
  3. Interface – The website is capable of interacting with APIs and other web services. An API (Application Programming Interface) serves as a middle man for applications to talk to one another.
  4. Performance – The website is capable of hosting the expected amount of traffic without misbehaving. Improving website performance can be done multiple ways such as reducing image size, or eliminating unnecessary code. 

Regardless of where you see your business in this process, your website is a powerful tool for generating business & finding leads. It’s crucial to go about the web development process knowing that it’s an ongoing project. If you’re finding a certain step challenging, Breezy Hill is ready to jump in and help with your website development anywhere along the way.