Blog

Creating a website design concept in 5 steps

 

Sometimes it’s easy to jump into a new piece of work without stopping to think. Budgets, scheduling and resources may be such that your initial response is to simply work - fast!

However taking some time to think and create a strategy for your approach can only help, as it gives you confidence that what you are doing is considered and appropriate. Following the 5 steps shown below (or most of them!) will help you.

1. Understand the brand and gather your assets

Get your hands on all you can. Hopefully a brand will have a set of guidelines and at the very least brand colours, fonts and a logo. But there may also be other marketing materials which have been produced that can guide your interpretation of the brief.

Try to find answers to questions such as how the organisation views what has been done in the past, whether there is any design direction they went down previously that they’d rather not emulate, if there are any examples of previous communications that were felt to have nailed the right tone of voice (visually or otherwise) and ask yourself what you think worked best.

Preferably meet with the person who is going to review your designs and essentially interview them. Ask them their opinions on competitor websites or other sites which could be valuable as sources of inspiration.

2. Research the market and find out who is at the top of the game 

Look at the websites of direct competitors and similar brands or businesses all over the world. It’s easy to forget about what’s happening in other countries when search engines tend to return results from your own locality.

If this part of the process gives you nothing specific to apply to your new project it will certainly reignite your passion and creative ambition and get you excited about setting off on a new design adventure. Document, sketch and screenshot. Put together mood boards and collect visual references you can look back on. They will help you in moments of doubt when you feel like you’ve lost your way a bit.

3. Collaborate and get some heads together

Depending on the size and the nature of the project it may be that your chums in UX have been planning and putting together a strategy for a while but before things go any further make sure you catch up with them and review what is in the pipeline. You may have ideas that will need to be fed into them at this stage or there may be user insight they have acquired that you need to be familiar with before you start to work on the front end design.

Whatever their level of input or the stage of the project design and UX should influence and inform each other - so stick your beak in now! You may be working with signed off wireframes but they are not design blueprints.

4. Think grids, layout and structure

Before getting into the detail, think about what basic structure and navigational presentation will suit your project. A series of questions like this should run through your mind:

  • What is the nature of the content?

  • Will there be reams of text that needs to be easily read?

  • How experiential should it be in approach? Should it be ‘conventional’ in tone or push boundaries?

  • Should the grid used be fully fluid?

  • How important are big images?

Once you have thought about issues like these, you will probably have a better idea of how you are going to deliver the initial concepts.

It will also become clearer if there is a case for putting two or more approaches in front of the stakeholders. This will show them they have options and make them feel they can be actively involved in the creative process by choosing between them. But be careful, sometimes this can create confusion as elements of both designs might be equally appealing, resulting in a muddled combination of concepts.

Finally, think what pages and breakpoints you need to visualise in order to get your concepts across. Don’t forget mobile - or even better start with mobile.

5. Move forward and keep the end goal in mind but don't forget to look!

You may well have a favourite idea or be keen on what the project should entail and ultimately look like but keeping an open mind and constantly thinking of what the alternative could be can help. Refine, question and develop. You’ll think you’ve cracked it. The next morning you’ll open the file again and notice something that can be improved.

Don’t get distracted and confused by changing things all the time but try to assess your work as objectively as possible and be honest with yourself when you know it’s not quite right. If you’re feeling brave, ask the next person that walks past what they think. With any luck they’ll love it and then you can move on!

Of course, the next step is receiving and responding to feedback but hopefully, if your concepts were well thought through, sign-off is just a short step away.

www.webincorp.com

Add a comment
Websites can be one of the greatest tools for a business, but if you go down a path that is not a good match for your purpose and budget it can be an expensive and time consuming nightmare. Buying a website can be tricky, simply because sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know and that can make it difficult to ask the right questions. So to help you out and get you oriented we have put together this awesome guide of what you must know before choosing a web design company.

1. Is the web company established and experienced?

It’s important to find a web design company that has experience. You can measure this in years, number of clients and also through the quality their web design portfolio.
Years in business indicates that the web design company is a stable and successful business and that they will be able to competently work with your business for the long term. Number of clients indicates that the company should be very familiar with the full spectrum of website projects and won’t take on a project that they don’t have the experience in completing. It also indicates that they have had the opportunity to iron out their work processes and are familiar with deadlines and timeframes.
Three important questions to ask are:
  • How long has the company been designing and developing websites?
  • How many clients do they have?
  • How many employees do they have?
In order to try and save a little bit of money there is often a temptation to get your website designed and developed by a small company, a freelancer or a friend of a friends nephew that’s just graduated from university. Often freelancers and small developers just don’t have the experience they thought they did and what seemed like a money saver can become an expensive repair job as you will often need to start from scratch again.We have heard these unfortunate stories time and time again and we have found that going with smaller companies and freelancers is often a short-term approach for ultimately what is a long-term project. Realistically a website is an ongoing project and it is important to partner with an experienced and established company that will be there for the long term and has the experience to offer you ongoing support and advise.

2. What should I expect to pay?

A question we often hear is – “how much should I pay for a website?”
Website prices can range a lot, you can get a website for as little as almost nothing and just pay for hosting, or the price can go all the way through to 100,000 QR and beyond. One of the interesting things about the web design industry is that you can get quoted a considerably different amount for the same job depending on the company that is quoting you.
As is the case when looking to purchase anything there can be a temptation to go with the cheapest option. You can buy websites from between 2500-5000 QR, however it is important you understand what you are purchasing as these products always have limitations. Another important thing to consider with these products is that they are often out of the box solutions and you won’t get the consultation and customisation that can be important so that the website is best serving your business interests. These cheap options can still work for some people, but not for all.
To some degree the saying “you get what you pay for” holds true in the web design industry. However there is a point where the price just keeps going up and the quality of the work or expertise doesn’t justify the cost.
Obviously price is highly dependent on the specific functionality that you require, but if you have a budget of between 6000 QR – 15,000 QR , and if you follow the points in this document when selecting the web design company, you should be able to get a professionally designed and developed website for your small business.
The best way to look a website is that it is a long term project and an investment in your business. If you are prepared to pay a little extra and choose the right company your website can be an asset and money making tool for years to come.

3. Can you update the website content yourself?

Ensure you will have access to update and edit the content of your website 24/7 on the fly. This is achieved by software which is called a content management system or CMS. Regardless of whether you intend to edit and upload the content of your website yourself or hire someone to do it for you, it’s important that your website is built on a content management system so that it is easy to make changes.
This is considered as best business practice in website development for small businesses and has become fairly common these days. It is something important to consider because if your website isn’t on a CMS, it can create a lot of expense later on when you’re wanting to change or add content. You will also want to make sure that the CMS is an industry standard platform and you also want to make sure that it’s easy to use and that good training and support materials are available to you.

4. Will you get support when you need it?

Does the company you’re purchasing the website from offer ongoing support? When you purchase a website, it is very important that you choose a web design company offers reliable, generous and cost effective support on an ongoing basis. This is incredibly important because a website has a lot of different functions and aspects to it, and it helps to have professional assistance available when you need it.
Things you might need help with:
  • your emails
  • your domain name
  • your hosting
  • how to use the content management system of your website
  • ecommerce setup
Without good quality support, you can find yourself in a predicament where you need to then outsource to an additional developer to fix the problem that you have encountered. This can lead to an extraordinary amount of frustration, wasted time and additional expense on your part..
A story we hear often and our clients have experienced repeatedly is with freelance developers or small web design companies who start working on a project and are fantastic in the beginning, but within 6 to 12 months their enthusiasm and commitment wanes. Often they’ve started a steady job or taken on new projects and then old projects are not as fun to work on, or they don’t have time to work on them anymore. So make sure that the support is in place with a company that has support as a part of their business practice.

5. Keep it all in one place

It’s very helpful and convenient to be able to simply have one company handle everything that relates to your website and online presence. Secondary services are anything that will support your business and your online presence. That could be graphic design services, copywriting, domain names, hosting, support, and most importantly online marketing. You want to know that the company you’re dealing with can offer you a full range of services that relate to your website and that they have good solid marketing skills.
Your website is an investment into the future of your business and you are going to want to make it work for you and it’s going to have a life cycle alongside your business. It’s a long-term project for you and as you develop your business, you will want to make the most out of it using different services to promote your businesss, as you grow professionally.

6. Are there any additional or hidden charges

When you are purchasing a website and receiving quotes, in addition to getting a fixed project price, it’s important to be aware of any limitations, ongoing charges and costs that may be related to the website.
For Example: hosting and support fees. But you will also want to know about additional development costs or future design costs. It is good to know how much the ballpark studio rates are per hour to cover your expectations. It’s also important to establish the project scope and prices straight up.
Sometimes without correct management, a company can allow a project to go out of scope and budget, or get escalated due to unexpected challenges, and suddenly you’re in a situation where you’re 75% invested in the project and now it’s more expensive than what was originally quoted. And this can also happen because you have decided mid way that you want more functionality too.
Another thing to consider are the particular limitations of the service, for example, limited hosting space or design revisions. If the company is placing limits on these you can guess there’s a chance that you will be charged extra if you exceed these limits.

7. See samples of their work

It is important to review and see samples of the work and craftsmanship that the web design company has produced in the past. This will give you a good reference point for what they can provide for you. It’s important in these cases to not only look at the quality of the design, but also the functionality of the websites. Any good web design company should be able to show you a large amount of work that they have done. This will be a very good indication of the service and quality that you’ll receive from their company and it’s a great place to start in terms of evaluating the company.
Along with this, it is also good to review any testimonials or case studies that the company may have from their clients. It is good peace of mind to know that their clients are actually happy with the service that they’ve provided.

www.webincorp.com Add a comment
For those of us who want to build powerful websites without having to worry about all the coding, and technical aspects of it, there are three main options.

WordPressJoomla and Drupal have established themselves as the leaders for online content management systems. There’s no need to look for another CMS as those three are the most popular ones (great features, easy to manage, secure & free to use).
 
To be honest, they are all incredible systems, and can make creating a website quick and easy, no matter how little one knows about computers and technology. Even, better – they are all open-source with means they are all FREE to use.

Choosing which system to use can be difficult, but it is an important choice to make. For most people, once they’ve started with one, they won’t want to change, so let’s take a few minutes to review each of these three content management systems to see which one is right for you.
 

Quick overview:


  • WordPress – Best pick for beginners, works well for small to medium sized websites, blogs and stores.
  • Joomla – Great for e-commerce type of sites, but require at least some level of technical coding.
  • Drupal – The most difficult one, but also the most powerful CMS.

CMS Comparison Chart
 

… and now for the more in-depth review
 

WordPress

WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system. It started out as a platform exclusively for blogging, but has grown and advanced significantly over the years. Today, over 40% of sites using CMS’s are using WordPress. In addition, over 60 millions websites are using WordPress which shows just how popular it is. WordPress offers many advantages to those looking to create a website or a blog, including the following:
 

  • Easy to Install – Many web hosting companies (also Bluehost) offer automatic installation of WordPress sites, which means you can have a new site up and running in well under five minutes. Even with manual installation, you can create a new site in less than a hour.

  • Customizable – WordPress has significantly more plug-ins, themes and other customizations available for it than any other CMS. This is largely because it is the most popular, so the designers of these items almost always create them for WordPress. You can also create a blog with WordPress.

  • Free – WordPress is free to install and use for anyone who wants it. There are thousands of free plug-ins and themes available to choose from. In addition, there are also paid premium themes and plug-ins, which some people will want to use, but they are not required, especially not for beginners.

  • Community Support – With millions of people using WordPress, there are a lot of people out there to help you through any problems you may have. Several websites are set up by users offering free support to other WordPress website owners. If you have some time, you can check out their support forum where contributors can help you within minutes. Awesome, right?

Of course, WordPress isn’t perfect in every way. Some common complaints about WordPress are that if the site grows to large, it can require significant server resources to keep up. The framework of WordPress is also difficult to change, so those looking to make back-end changes to their websites may have some trouble using WordPress.

These concerns are much more significant for sites that start getting hundreds of thousands of visitors per day, at which point a more robust server may be required to run the page. However, for a beginner, this is probably the most suitable platform to build a site.
 

Drupal

Drupal is the second most popular content management system available today. It is a fully open source program, which many people prefer, especially those who are more technically minded.

The Drupal platform is extremely powerful, and is less resource intensive than that of WordPress. Drupal can be set up for anything from a simple blog to a content portal used by large corporations. Some of the most significant benefits to Drupal include the following:
 

  • Technically Advanced – Drupal is the most technically advanced of these three content management systems. It doesn’t use nearly as many system resources as WordPress, so people won’t have to worry about upgrading to a more expensive hosting option as quickly.

  • Improved Performance – Drupal pages typically load more quickly, and have faster response times than those made with WordPress or Joomla. Of course, as you add in plug-ins and make other changes, this can quickly change.

  • Customizable – Drupal is easy to customize with many different plug-ins, themes and other configurable options. For those with sufficient programming knowledge, it is possible to edit even the root files of the program, making it the most flexible of the three content management systems.

  • Free – You can download the Drupal software for free, and install it on your own hosting server. There is no option to have a website hosted on Drupal servers, however, so you will need a web hosting available to run the site. You’ll also need your own domain name, which typically costs some money.

Drupal is the most powerful content management system out of the box, but with that power comes some additional difficulties for the website owner.

Having at least basic knowledge of HTML, PHP and other common web programming languages is highly recommended for anyone considering using Drupal. You don’t need to be an expert, but being able to troubleshoot error messages, and identify problems with coding will be a significant benefit.

If your website grows beyond a basic blog or small business page, you’ll likely require some technical support to run it properly. If you don’t have those skills yourself, that may mean you need to hire someone, or outsource the support of your page. Another potential concern is that since Drupal requires some in depth knowledge of the programming and technology behind it, finding support can be more difficult. If you run into a problem, you may have to pay someone to log on and help you fix it.
 

Joomla

Joomla is often thought of as the compromise between WordPress and Drupal. It is a powerful content management system, which can run smoothly on most web servers without any problems. It doesn’t require the same level of technical experience to run as Drupal, but it still offers many of the extra features. Like Drupal and WordPress, Joomla does have a lot of plug-ins and themes available to choose from, so you can customize your site to look and function in any way you desire. Other reasons people choose Joomla include:
 

  • Social Networking – This is perhaps the biggest benefit of Joomla. Of the three, Joomla makes it the easiest to create social networks. Social networks can be a powerful asset for many sites, and with Joomla, you can have one up and running extremely quickly and easily.

  • Commerce Sites – If you want to set up an online store; that is also very simple with Joomla. While it is certainly possible with Drupal and WordPress, Joomla makes it faster and easier, and has more native support for these types of things.

  • Not too Technical – Joomla has, in many people’s opinion, found that middle ground between the ease of managing a WordPress website, and the power of a Drupal site. Most people will be able to run a great Joomla site without any significant technical support, though there may be some issues which you’ll need to reach out for help on.

  • Help Portal – Joomla offers a great help portal for asking questions and getting technical support. It isn’t going to be as fast or extensive as the community based support pages of WordPress, but it is quicker (and cheaper) than technical support most people get for Drupal.

  • Free – Like Drupal, Joomla is free to use on your own web servers, but there is no option to have it hosted for free like WordPress offers.

Many Joomla users love Joomla because it is powerful, yet easy to use. Joomla has done an excellent job at combining the benefits of WordPress and Drupal, and adding in some great features of its own. It has been growing in popularity over the past several years, and it is likely to continue to do so. Joomla seems to have found a big market of people who are ready for something a little more powerful than WordPress, but easier to manage than Drupal.
 

Making your choice

Fans of each of these three content management systems will argue fiercely that the one they prefer is the best option out there.

The fact is, each situation will require something different, and taking the time to look at all your options is the best way to go. For those looking to set up a small, personal blog, or a website for their small business, WordPress is likely the way to go.
If you’re setting up a site which you believe will grow rapidly from day one, and require extensive features for the users, Drupal may be more in line with what you need. Joomlais great for those somewhere in the middle, or anyone looking to add social networking to their pages.

It isn’t an easy choice to make, but if you take the time to look at your specific needs, and have an honest look at your own technical abilities (or your willingness to pay for technical support), you can make the right choice.

www.webincorp.com

Add a comment