My web design process, idea to execution. Part one of three. - Jason Baldacchino

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My web design process, idea to execution. "The Why” - Part one of three.

26th May 2018

Did you know that there are over one billion websites on the internet today? That's not to say all of them work per say, but in the last few years, numerous services have been created which allow just about anybody with a minimal budget to get their business or concept listed on Google. The irony about this is that it means more and more websites are flooding onto the web, digital competition is soaring and a general web user’s patience for bad design or for a confusing user experience is now wholly non-existent... After all, with over one billion websites to choose from, there's probably numerous alternatives which don’t suck.

Websites should strive to be different. It’s imperative they stand out from the clutter and cookie cutters and function exactly as they should. You instinctively know when a website is good, because you've experienced so many bad websites; what you may not know is that the reason it’s good all boils down to the process behind it.

For my first ever set of blog posts, I’m going to break down my design and development process because process is where a project begins. Here’s a short anecdote.

A business emailed me and they wanted a new website. They were sick of their current website and they were very clear with what they now wanted. A sleek design, five pages, a contact form, social media links and a gallery to upload their service images to. I visited their current website, it wasn't mobile-responsive and they could no-longer edit it because it hadn't been updated in years (yes, this is quite a common occurrence). I made a note of the requested items, but then I put them to the side. Why?

It’s true that their new website would probably end up containing all of these requested features. The problem is, we hadn't discussed “the why” behind the project. What is the purpose of this work? We shouldn’t invest in a new website because we’re tired of looking at our current one. We needed to first look at who is going to be viewing this thing. We needed to establish who our target is, and we couldn't be too vague about this... I understand that most businesses have all kinds of people walk through their doors, but there is always a target audience which a project should ultimately be geared towards.

I explained that their website should act as a bridge between the service they are selling and the customer. It’s a bridge which, while being crossed, begins to answer the main questions and queries the person is currently seeking an answer for. It’s also a bridge that evokes an emotional response and guides them to their desired answer. This answer is the action—a sign up form, class times page, product purchase page etc.—in a clear, unambiguous way. We really had to establish the questions which our customers were asking before we undertook the project.

A website connects your service to your customer

This business is a new martial arts club (one of my main niches is martial arts, fitness and well-being businesses) looking to get more students to sign up through their website. We began discussing all the aspects of their business as it currently stood, and a more in-depth picture of what we could actually offer was formed. We then explored why people sign up to martial arts clubs. We learned that sure, the prospective student wants to learn self-defence, but they also want an environment they can trust and which has their best interests in mind. This simple thought process established a clear project goal of building credibility which resulted in us asking about what actually makes this business credible.

We delved into the emotion behind signing up. Why are martial arts attractive to our students? What's the most compelling way to tap into these emotions? What kinds of linguistic themes should we use, what colours match our brand. Hey... What even is our brand?

A brand is not a logo. A brand is not a website. A brand is the interaction between our business and the customer. This includes our logo and website, but it could even be the way our staff speak to our customers, the interior design of our venue, the attention we give to email responses. Websites in 2018 are a crucial extension of your brand, aside from a customer actually coming in and speaking to you, it's where they are going to look to learn more.

Personally speaking, I’m not a design agency and I do not pretend to be, I create simple brands… Simple. This word should NOT have a negative connotation because simple really means: easy to digest, easy to understand and easy to buy into. Some of the most hard-hitting brands in the world are incredibly simple in form on their surface, but are heavily thought out and well-researched underneath. If we can think deep, we can build a website which acts as an effective branding tool, conveying emotions of consistency, trust and passion which our customers will be able to touch base with.

This concludes part one of my web design process, idea to execution. In this post, I've explained how I get started on a project and it includes asking a bunch of the right questions and brain storming religiously. The bottom line is that we need to really pick apart the business we're trying to improve as that’s how we’re going to establish "the why" behind the project. Doing this lets us build a clear picture of what somebody is coming to our website to find—now we can think about how best to present the answers they're looking for. Let’s create a website that's catered for our customers in part two of this series.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. I do masses of content writing for my clients' businesses however blogging in this capacity is something which is totally new to me. I will keep practicing so I can bring the best content I can to you on a regular bases. Thank you for understanding and stay posted for more.

Jason Baldacchino Malta based freelance web developer

I am a web designer and branding specialist living in Malta for the last two years. I help businesses improve their digital presence and land more conversions through their websites. In my free time, I study Latin and Ancient Greek at the University of Malta. If you have anything you want to talk to me about, get in touch, I'd love to speak with you!