If you’ve heard that first impressions matter, that’s because it does. But first impressions isn’t the only thing that makes your users love your website. It’s about making the website seem familiar, easy to navigate in and making the user feel a genuine connection with it. This is easier said than done as each website attracts different types of users, so our end goal in any design work is to make sure it delights the majority of users. In order to do this, I have a design process that has been tried, tested and proven to work.
Stage 1. The briefing
At this stage, the sole purpose is to ask the client as many questions as possible in order to understand their vision for the product they want my help with creating. This session is somewhat similar to a discovery session as its important for me to know your business, the website you want, the functionalities it has to have, its design aspects, colours, layout and anything else that prove to be important. If the client cannot answer any questions (and there will be some of those) I request the client to do some research and get back to me. The session ends with a commitment on both parties to do some research on other websites that match the vision the client has for the project so that we can compare notes in stage 2.
Stage 2. Sharing notes
It is at this stage that the client produces the findings from his research for websites that are similar to his/her idea. At this stage, it is important that the client be able to pinpoint the exact reasons these websites are inspiring and the elements that they would like to see in theirs as well. It is then my turn as the designer/developer to produce the websites I discovered via research and ask the clients opinion of them. The elements that the client likes in them are again made note of as they will be taken into consideration when creating the wireframe for the project.
Stage 3. Wireframes
The wireframes are like the skeleton of the website. They provide you with an initial look of how the layout of the website will be, thereby helping you visualise the look and feel of the end product. These wireframes are inspired by the websites that I scoped together with the client and is very helpful in seeing how all the pages will be navigating the user to the end goal you’d expect of them. Since this is still a wireframe, there is a lot of space for modifications to it, unlike the next stage in which we flesh out this skeleton of the website with designs.
Stage 4. Mockups
This is the stage where the wireframe is now being integrated with images, colours, backgrounds and other layers that give you an idea of what the final product will look like. The colours that are used here will be dependent on the brand guidelines provided to me, or inspiration from other websites if there are no brand guidelines. At the end of this stage, it is imperative that the mockups be finalised as it is these mockups that will be used as the guide when the development of the website begins.