My Process Before I Create a Website

Why should you have a process?

I think being organized is the most important step of any project. If you have a process and follow the same steps over and over, it becomes second nature and you’re not scrambling trying to figure out everything. 

I like to follow the saying “You have to know the rules to break the rules.” I like to follow certain steps, and then revise them to make it more efficient. Efficiency makes you and your clients happy.

Here is my process before I create a website.

Knowing your target audience and the company style

After I receive the contract and payment from a client, I like to send out a questionnaire to get to know the company. One of the most important question is who is your ideal client or who is your target audience.

Knowing the audience will give me an idea of the types of styles and colors I can use for the brand. The same thing in knowing the company’s style. I don’t want to use something bright and colorful for a company that is more conservative and business-like. Just like I don’t want to use dark, gloomy colors for a company that markets to children. Well, unless it’s kids who love Tim Burton movies…

Creating a Sitemap

A sitemap is basically the map of your website. It maps out where each link takes you. 

For a simple site you might just have a Home, About, F.A.Q, and Contact page.  If your website  is complicated, it is better to create a sitemap of all the pages you need. After creating the main pages, make a sub navigation and categorize the other pages that are important.

If you have a big corporation, you will usually hire a company to create your website. They will in turn do card sorts and reverse card sorts with the ideal customers for the company.

Basically a card sort is made with actual cards (like note cards) that have the tasks that the website will do or answers to questions that the website provides. The participant will sort those cards into categories and write the name of the category. A reverse card sort will have the actual names of the categories and the participant will then sort the tasks to those categories.

The purpose of those card sorts is to create the perfect navigation for the customers. If your website is confusing, then people will leave and find an easier site to use.

A simple sitemap for Natasha Lane Design Co. I didn't end up following
A simple sitemap for Natasha Lane Design Co. I didn’t end up following.

Wireframing or sketching the website

After the sitemap is created, I know how many pages to create. Then I can start wireframing each page. I usually just roughly sketch out how the page will look. This includes drawing where the navigation, logo, and etc will go on the page.

Creating the Prototype

After I finish wireframing the website, I start designing how it will actually look. I use either Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign to create the prototypes. 

Then after I create each page, I save them as pdfs and send them to the clients for approval. Once they are approved, I start creating the website.

Prototype of the Service Page for Natasha Lane Design Co.
Prototype of the Service Page for Natasha Lane Design Co.

If you have a different process you go through before designing the website, let me know. I would love to know what other people are doing.

-Natasha Lane Design Co.