After I have spent time learning about you and your company I will then begin the process of designing your website.
Throughout the design phase I will frequently ask you for feedback & approval. Your feedback and comments during the design phase are extremely important as it will be used to make amendments to the layout and design before the start of the development (coding) of your website. It is vitally important to be 100% honest with me during this stage (and all stages I hope!).
Sometimes clients love the first version, other times they hate it but generally it is somewhere inbetween. I will always justify why I have designed things in a certain way but it doesn't mean I don't take your opinions on board. I like to collaborate with my clients and always welcome your suggestions, there are always alternative ways to achieve a goal.
The design phase is done over two steps. The first is where we create a wire-frame (or a series of, depending on the complexity & size of the website) which is basically a schematic layout of your website, like a storyboard. Depending on resources, time and budget these can either be produced with paper and pencil (I'm a bit old-school) or digitally on my computer. The wire-frame will show how parts of the website will function and how certain elements will be positioned on the page. It deals with the basic and fundamental parts of your website such as layout, composition, navigation preferences, collation and presentation of content and organisation of the website. Basically, all the important foundations of the website before we start to think about the more visual aspects.
The wire-frame acts as a building block to the next step, which is to create a mock-up. This is where we start to have fun and produce the visuals of the website that you and your audience will see and use.
This allows me to gauge how effectively your website objectives are being met.
The traditional method of creating mock-ups (in order to show the client) is done on Photoshop. The problem with that now is modern websites need to be optimised to work and look good on a variety of devices and screen sizes. Displaying this accurately on Photoshop is a time-consuming task and is also ridiculously expensive to do due to the time it would take to produce the different scenarios (and to be honest, they only give you as much of an idea like a photo of a meal). Depending on the size and complexity of your website, I will determine the best way to go about this stage of the process, whether we take a journey for a specific persona of your target audience or a selection of pages to be illustrated, there is a variety of ways to accomplish this. It is important to remember though, at this point of the design, unless otherwise agreed, the mock-up will only be coloured static images representing the working web pages. The amount and degree of involvement and intricacy will be agreed during the previous stage, where the design brief is written and finalised. The more exploration that is done in these early design stages will help the website in the long run by highlighting possible issues before coding begins.
This stage is normally produced iteratively: I submit a design and you make comments on it. I will then refine the design based on your comments (and my own creative instinct) until we come to the desired result that we are both happy with. I would also recommend that whilst I am producing the wire-frames and mock-ups that you begin compiling draft content for the website.