04 Aug Web Design Process – The 6 P’s of the Website Design Process
Have you ever wondered where to start when designing your website? It can be a daunting task for even seasoned web designers, and yet it often consists of a set of common steps. We’ve broken it down into the six P’s of the web design process.
A website without a purpose will work for a while but before too long will lose interest and scope. The purpose can usually be written in a sentence. HomeStarRunner.com might have a purpose statement like, “To provide a fun and safe website for people of all ages to enjoy original cartoons of Home Star Runner and his friends.” This purpose statement tells us a number of things about the website:
- It will have content suitable for all ages
- It will be a fun website where people laugh and want to come back
- The focus of the website will be Home Star Runner and his friends
- The website will feature original cartoons. Cartoons are usually shorter in nature.
- The main objective of the website is not necessarily to make money, although that could certainly result from a popular website like homestarrunner.com
Some important questions to ask when writing your website purpose statement:
- Who will be your audience?
- Is the website for fun, for research, to inform, to generate revenue, etc?
- Will the website be free or cost a fee to use?
Planning may seem a bit redundant after spending some time to write your purpose statement but it takes your purpose to the next level and provides greater detail. The goal of the planning stage is to outline the structure of your website. What will your website contain? How it will it be laid out? What colors will you use? Do you have a logo or branding that you want to convey? These are all important things to plan for before you get into the design. Thinking about these steps now will be save you time later.
Some other questions to think about are:
- What is my website’s name?
- What will I use as my domain name?
- What kind of hosting platform will I use? Windows or Unix/Linux?
- What server technologies will I use? ASP? ColdFusion? Java? PHP/MySQL?
Although not all of these questions have to be answered now, it is important to be thinking about them as you progress through the website design process.
Probe for Resources
This step can be done in conjunction with the planning step. Probing for resources is all about ideas, inspirations, research and finding out what’s already out there. You want your website to be unique and original and you want to be able to leverage as many available resources as you can. Are there similar sites to the one you are designing? What do you like about them? What do you dislike? Are there technologies or resources that you can leverage to make your site more quickly and more effective?
Produce a Design
Once you have thought about your website’s purpose, made a plan and probed for resources, the next step is to produce a design. For me this is almost always a result of finding several website designs that I like a lot and taking elements from each along with a few original ideas I have and merging them into one concept.My favorite design tools are Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver. Photoshop allows you to unleash your creativity while Dreamweaver lets you make it come to life with CSS and HTML. One technique that I highly recommend is using a CMS like WordPress to power your website. This will make it much easier to maintain your website and sustain it over time.
Post the Pages
After nailing down a design and creating a template, you want to post your pages. This step usually involves creating initial content that will be featured on your website. The easiest way to do this is to start small. Of course it’s great when you can start your website with hundreds or even thousands of pages and resources but more than likely this will not be possible and will result in frustration and abandonment. So start small, with a handful of effective pages, products, or articles and go from there.
Pile on Current Content
Piling on the current content refers to the tragedy of many websites in that they start with great content, ideas and goals and then before too long become out dated, stagnant, old and just plain boring. So it’s important to continually update your website with new content. Think about the websites you go to the most… what do they offer? Why do you go there? What to do they provide you that no other website provides you with? Think about those things and then make your website that desirable.
Now that you’ve read through the six P’s of the web design process, start making your website design today.