Table of Contents
Hey biz owners, are you curious about what the web design process looks like? This episode is for those that are looking to get a professional web design for their business, but are unsure what to expect during the project.
In this episode of Your Sparkly Brand, we unlock the web design process involved in the design of a new website by breaking them down into step-by-step actions needed to be taken by both you and the designer. We also discuss why you need a professional website for your business and how you can choose the perfect designer for your web design project.
From a brand questionnaire to a kickoff call to design mockups to launch, I’m explaining my exact web design process from start to finish.
Disclaimer: this web design process is what works for me – Megan Gersch – as I work with my clients. This process may differ on a per-designer basis. Meaning that if you go to someone else – they may have a different way of getting the job done.
Watch The Episode
Key Points For This Episode
- Meg launches a website she’s been working on for a client for a couple of months.
- Lauren makes herself a Limited Liability Company (LLC).
- How the web design process works.
- Create a contract for the web design process.
- Get the client to pay the invoice upfront.
- Create a shared Asana project and Google drive folder for the client. Asana is where the bulk of communication will happen for the web design project. Google Drive is where the project files will be stored.
- Send the client an email with onboarding instructions for the web design process.
- Get the client to fill a brand questionnaire to get a background knowledge of where they’re at with their brand.
- Have a kick-off call with the client to better understand their needs.
- What to prepare for before jumping into the web design process.
- Put together a website outline for the client to review. This helps to organize the website content into logical flow – a critical step to finalize before jumping into design.
- Begin the web design process. Send the client mockups of their website and integrate revisions.
- Get into the actual web building once the website design is approved.
- Run through the pre-launch website checklist – an important part of the web design process.
- Launch the new website design.
- Create a post-launch video for the brand.
- How SEO works during the web design process.
- Web design process timeline.
- What makes a great experience for a web designer and a client.
- How to choose a designer for your web design.
- Meg’s advice to someone who’s on the fence about getting started with their website design.
Did you enjoy this episode? If so, please leave us a 5-star rating! Ratings & reviews will help this podcast grow so we can make the world a little more Sparkly!
Lauren: Hello and welcome to Your Sparkly Brand. We’re here to inspire and empower entrepreneurs like you. This podcast is all about delivering no-fluff, high-value content that helps you grow your business. It doesn’t matter if you have no budget and are still DIYing everything on your own. We’re giving you the tips, tools, and strategies you need to build a sparkly empire.
I’m Lauren Tassi, your copywriter and launch strategist, and I’m here with my co-host, the brand design queen, Megan Gersch. Hi Megan.
Megan: Hey, how are you?
Lauren: I’m doing great. How are you?
Megan: I am great as well. Thank you for asking.
Lauren: Awesome. I love it. So, what is your sparkly moment?
Megan: So we actually just launched a website that I’ve been working on for a couple of months.
It’s the Shapewear client I’ve mentioned on a few other episodes and yeah, I’m just so excited with how the site turned out and just really excited for the clients. It’s like a big upgrade for them, on Shopify, and yeah, just super thrilled with like how everything turned out. So, What about you?
Lauren: Awesome. I’m excited to see it. I love when you share your projects. So mine, I had a sparkly moment and it’s good and we’ll, well, maybe it’ll be next week’s. But literally, 15 minutes ago I got this email. I made myself an LLC.
Megan: That’s awesome.
Lauren: Yeah, it’s been one of those things that’s been in the back of my mind for years.
Here in California, it’s expensive to do it right? The actual filing is free, but like you have to pay $800 a year in taxes to do it. But I want legal protection, especially as I’m like growing and doing more things. So I literally just got the email that it was approved. I’m good to go. I’m now all you know, don’t sue me because you can’t get much.
So I’m pretty excited about that feeling very.
Megan: Love that for you. Congratulations. Thank you. So what are we talking about this episode?
Lauren: Well, we’re talking about your stuff. We’re talking about the web design process, and I’m excited to talk about this because while it’s not on the top of my priority list, I definitely, and I think maybe this is probably where a lot of our audiences at, or the people you work with.
Like I have my DIY website, but it’s definitely maybe in the second half of this year. hiring someone to do it for me because I know I want better. I want a better presence on the internet than just the Squarespace website I built myself five years ago.
Megan: Yeah, definitely. And I think I wanna start things off too by just talking about, like, this is like my specific web design process.
Any designer that you work with is gonna have a different web design process. So like what you hear today might not be what you get if you work with somebody else. Just because, you know, we all work towards pretty much the same goal, but we, you might not have the same process of getting there. So. So, yeah, let’s, let’s dive right into it.
The first thing that I always start off within the web design process is the contract. Obviously, I never do any work until a contract is in place. Never had a problem with that, with any client or anything. So, the other thing that I require upfront is for the invoice to be paid. I typically do the invoice paid in full.
Sometimes that can be a good chunk of money depending on the project. And then once those two components are squared away, I create an Asana project for the client. And so basically I set up, each of the tasks that I will be tackling in the web design process and assign due dates to each of the tasks and essentially share the project with the client so that way, we can both be on the same page for the different milestones that we’re going through.
You know, it’s just a great place to kind of house all of the feedback. You don’t want feedback getting lost in emails and stuff like that. Like it’s good to have everything in one place during the web design process. One of the things that I also do, like within the Asana project is I’ll put a task that is just labeled, with assets.
And so like I will put a link to a Google Drive folder that I will create for the client, as well as a link to a brand questionnaire that I send over to. So once all of that is set up, essentially I will send the client an email to say like, here’s your onboarding and kind of run them through the steps of the web design process and our Asana project.
If you have any photos of yourself that you want to use on the website or you know, throughout the web design process, like, please put them in this folder. I also get them to fill out that brand questionnaire that I’ve mentioned, and this is just for me. Kind of get a sense of the vibe of what they want for their website.
So it goes into like what the main goals are, who their target audience is, and kind of gives me a little bit of that background. If I’m just doing the website for the client, if they already have branding in place, most of the time we’ll do branding first and then the website together.
But there are rare cases where the client already has branding and so they just wanna get the web design process done. So, this is also a place where they can submit that branding to me if they have gotten the branding done by somebody else. So they can put it in that shared Google Doc folder. A couple of other things that I cover in the questionnaire.
So like, I like to get clarity about what assets the client already has. So like I mentioned a few of the photos. Any iconography, logos, you know, if they have a brand guide that’s really, really helpful. It generally for me is just to get a sense too of like what is actually gonna be included in the web design process.
So like what pages? A lot of the time I’ll have an idea of this, you know, based on our discussions that we’ve already had before we go to contract. But I just wanna make sure that we absolutely get on the same page before I go to design and build. So we get. Kind of a preliminary list of the content.
And I also share with them a website design process copy document. So this is essentially where the client can input any text that they want on their website. And this is probably where you would come in, Lauren. I have like somebody if they wanted to outsource their website copy. You know, a lot of clients won’t have this right off the bat.
And so like I can connect them with somebody that can help them with that. But you know, I like to get it all in one document and that. The document is not set in stone by any means, but it helps me to gauge how much content is gonna be on each page. And we might wind up reorganizing the content down the line, as I get into design, just from a strategic perspective.
But it is good to have, before I get into the web design process piece of it. And so once all of these assets are kind of in place they basically have gone through their whole onboarding email and completed everything. They write me back to say like, Hey, everything’s good to go. Basically, we get a kickoff call on the calendar.
So essentially on the kickoff call, I will have taken a look at all of the assets that have been submitted. And I’ll ask the client any questions about like, you know, like, I saw this. Do you have a higher res version of this? Can I get some clarification here? Et cetera. Usually, there are a few questions for stuff that they have submitted.
I also take this time to get access to anything that I might need. So this might look like their website hosting platform. It might look like their, domain, credentials. You know, we’ll also go through the Asana project together to outline the web design process. So I’ll show them how you can submit feedback, and how we’re gonna be using the platform.
And I’ll answer any last questions before I kind of get into the actual, you know, strategy and web design process.
Lauren: So I have a question. Let’s say you don’t have all this stuff brand new and ready to go, whether it’s the copy, whether it’s maybe like your product photos are coming and they’re just not quite ready yet, like should all this be ready to go before you come on board?
I guess I just wanna know what should we make sure we’re prepared for before we like jump into the web design process?
Megan: Yeah, it’s definitely helpful to have that before you go into the web design process. It’s been rare that I’ve encountered that scenario, but, a lot of folks will like, have at least preliminary, like product photos, let’s say, but they’ll say like, oh, like they’re gonna redo their product photos.
Like in the kind of process of like, kind of going in tandem with the web design process. Kind of one of those things where I just have to put placeholders for now. But it’s helpful to have all of that content upfront because honestly, especially when it comes to the photos that are gonna be one of the things that kind of helps you to envision that end product.
You know, like when it comes down to like, how I can, like the assets that I have as a designer to like, make your different promotions. Let’s say you’re running a Valentine’s Day sale or something like that. Like I can’t place, I, I could place an old product there, but it’s not gonna look as good as your new ones.
So it’s not gonna have that cohesive feel unless we have all of the assets.
Lauren: How much direction do you need? Like if I was literally just like, I need a website for my copywriting agency, do I need to like give you examples?
Do I need to like, or can you just be like, website? Got it. How much does your client need to come with in terms of what they want versus you just being like, this is what I do? Give me your take.
Megan: So some of that is covered in the brand questionnaire that I send over. One of the questions in there is, asking about what competitors you have in your field.
And so I, you know, basically asked like, what do you like about their website? What do you dislike? And I even ask about like, are there any other websites? It doesn’t have to be in your industry. Are there any specific websites that you are really drawn to? Are you really like the functionality of, so I like to get a lot of direction in that brand questionnaire, just because that’s gonna give me like, obviously there are a thousand different ways I could take a website, but I wanna make sure that it:
1. makes sense for your business and your target audience.
2. it’s something that makes you feel confident and excited about, you know, putting your business out there.
Like this is supposed to be a marketing tool and you should be excited about like, putting it out there and showing people.
Lauren: All right, so let’s get into your actual web design process then. If now you’ve got all the information, what happens next?
Megan: So then if it’s needed, and most of the time a little bit of this is needed, I will put together a website outline for the client to review. So basically this is me taking a look at all of the content that they have submitted, all of the copy, taking a look at the photos and all of that.
I will put all of that content. I’m basically laying out the navigation structure of the website. So like saying like, okay, you have products A, B, C, maybe they only need to be, in this page, or something like that. And like taking, a bird’s eye view of all the content and organizing it in a way that makes sense.
And so once we get that outline nailed down, obviously I send it, to the client to see like, okay, how do you feel about this structure? The client has to sign off before I go into the actual web design process. So once that is signed off, I will start the web design process. And the way that I like to work is I will design two pages first, to get client feedback first.
And what that allows me to do is it allows me to essentially give you a little taste of what is to come without basically, You know, going off in one direction and it being the wrong direction. I would rather design those two pages first to be like, what do you think about this? Am I on the right track?
Yes or no? Give feedback. Say like, oh, I like this part, I don’t like this part. So then I’ll take that feedback and integrate it into the full suite of pages in the web design process. That little kind of mini step has like really helped me as a designer just because it’s more of a collaborative process between the client and me, and it helps them to get what they’re looking for a bit faster.
We do revisions after that for like, you know, like once you have the full suite of the mockups, you can do revisions to that within the web design process. We have to approve the website designs before we go to build. This is a requirement. I require this for all my clients. This shows you what you’re going to be getting as close as we can get, to the actual build.
And so like, you know, when you see the actual build in action, there will be no surprises. We will be following the designs to a T as much as we can. And then after that, we go to build in the web design process. And so, lately, in my business I have been, trying to focus more on the design side of my business. So I have been bringing on contractors to help with the actual build part of it.
That being said, I have built many, many websites myself. Like I know how to code all of that stuff. I just, like, I’m shifting my focus and my business a bit to focus more on design because that’s what really ultimately lights me up. But when we go to build, basically, we purchase the theme for whatever platform that your website is on.
We build out all of the pages to match the mockups as closely as possible. Now that being said, there’s always a little bit of a discrepancy between like what you can achieve in a mockup because it’s a flat JPEG image versus a functioning website that you know you can make the browser different with.
So you can view it on different devices like. There are thousands of different, you know, phones and computers out there, and there’s literally no way to optimize for every single one. So there’s a little bit of a discrepancy and you have to understand that like, you know, with the flow of design like that, we try to match the mockups as closely as possible.
And we use it as a guiding light for how the design should look and feel. But you know, there it comes with that caveat. It’s like there’s always gonna be little minor changes that you’ll see from design to actually build so before we go to launch I have what’s called a pre-launch checklist. So basically this is, all of the pages are built at this point. I do a content check throughout the site, and check all of the stylings on desktop, mobile, and tablet. I also, depending on the contract, integrate SEO components within the web design process.
So I take a look at like, Are the headers in the right place? Like are we using the headers appropriately? Are all of the meta titles and descriptions in place? You know, taking a look at the mailing list, opt-in, like, you know, connecting that with the client’s mailing list platform, making sure that that’s working, doing a test there.
Also connecting their Google Analytics. Super important to do that check as well, so that way they can get any stats that they need from their website. And then we have one last client meeting before the launch. Basically, this is where I get on a zoom with the client, walk through the build, and kind of give them the first look at like their new website, get any final feedback.
Sometimes clients have like a minor copy change or two here or there. But for the most part, it’s pretty locked and loaded at that point. We then decide on a launch date, and a time to set the site live some builders can have like a little bit of wiggle room when it comes to that time. Just like depending on, you know, like propagation and stuff like that. It depends on what you’re doing. Like if you’re having to update the DNS, and this is getting a little bit technical, but if you’re switching platforms, let’s say you’re going from, Shopify to Squarespace or something like that.
There are just settings that I have to update from a web designer’s perspective that can take some time to propagate, which means that once I change it, it’s changed. However, it’s out of my hands how long that’s gonna take just because servers update in the background. I just don’t have control over that.
So it’s like, it’s usually less than a day that it takes for those kinds of changes to take effect. Lots of these types of services often say like up to 72 hours. And I think that’s just kind of like a cushion type thing, but it can take a little bit of time to kind of push that live. And then, yeah, once the site goes live, like time to pop the champagne, you know, like do a little happy dance and celebration.
Most of the time you know, the brand will want to promote their new website and say like, Hey, we gotta refresh and stuff like that. I’ll also. Create a post-launch video for the brand just because, obviously updating a website in the backend can be a little intimidating. So I like to walk through every single page of the website to try to, you know, trying to anticipate what the client might want to update in the future, you know, whether that.
Product listings or copy changes or how to change images or how to change the navigation. But I create a video in order to educate them on like how, you know, where to go to update certain things. it’s really helpful to have a video version of it cuz it’s something they can always come back to.
They can watch me kind of go through the steps. And yeah, I, I just kind of send that off to the client and let the celebrations ensue. Yay.
Lauren: Awesome. Okay, so can I ask you a couple of questions that are coming, coming to mind? Of course. So, and maybe you don’t even know this answer, but for SEO, let’s say you’re moving from Shopify, Squarespace or something where you are changing platforms.
Does SEO come with you? Are you building it up again? How does that work?
Megan: Yeah. So this is something that I’m actually going through right now with my own website redesign. So when it comes to your blog, especially if you’re doing your SEO with like a plugin or something like that, let’s say you’re on WordPress and you, you know, you’re using Yoast or something on WordPress.
That is not gonna carry over because it’s data within the plugin. So again, we’re getting a little bit technical here. So. The header structures and stuff within the blog will carry over, but the meta title, the meta-description, any recommendations and stuff like that are not gonna carry over. So it really just depends on what platform shift you’re doing, where your website exists, and where you’re taking it.
So some of that stuff will get left behind. again, this is a great opportunity though. I kind of look at it that way where it’s like, you know, maybe you quote unquote, like put SEO, you know, items on your website where it’s like you added meta titles, you added meta descriptions, but you kind of just like filled them in.
This is a perfect opportunity to actually do some keyword research and like really optimize those areas. That being said, for the pages, all of that stuff is gonna have to be like manually input. So it’s a process. Yeah, yeah. Definitely a process, but an opportunity. Yeah.
Lauren: The, and the other thing you can do too with blog posts and I started doing this, is just republishing them and putting like the new dates on them automatically gives you more authority in the Google search.
Cause it’s a fresher piece of content.
Megan: Mm-hmm. . .
Lauren: So I know it’s gonna be different for every situation and every client, but what’s like a speedy timeline for the web design process? Maybe from contract signing to popping the champagne, and then what’s maybe a drawn-out timeline for the web design process?
Megan: it really is gonna depend on how complex your site is.
And how, like how do you have a hundred products or do you have a thousand products? Do you have, you know, A hundred blog posts that we need to migrate? Like all of these things are kind of like things that we need to take into account in the web design process, like when we are kind of setting up the project. A fast timeline would be about six weeks. And a slow timeline. I mean, I’ve worked on sites that have taken over a year. So it really depends on like the size of the company, the size of the budget, what you’re trying to do with your website, you know, what kind of functionality you’re putting into it.
You know, if you have, like, I worked on this one website for a radio station that they had to build from the ground up, like a radio player that like followed you around the website and without interruptions when you went to different pages and stuff like that. That’s really complex.
So, you know, if you’re not building that, you know the web design process gonna go a little faster. But, you know, different functionality, things that you need to consider. All of those things kind of play into the timeline.
Lauren: You talked about having all your assets ready and stuff. What else makes like a great experience for you as a designer and also for the client?
Like, if we come to the table with this? What’s gonna just make it so much easier?
Megan: Yeah, definitely. So I feel like we always go back to this, but like knowing your target audience, really having like a vision for like where you wanna take your business and also having an idea of like how you wanna portray your brand.
So that’s why I always recommend we do the branding first because that is like the foundation for what you’re gonna need for this website design. Because like if you don’t have that in place, I can take your inspirational things all day, but like ultimately you need your branding in order to have like a clear vision and a clarity around where you wanna go as a company.
So I think that that is one of the most important things.
Lauren: So I have one more question in terms of like, Visual style and like, oh, I want it super modern, or I want it super girly. Like how important is it to pick a web designer who, that’s what their presence is, that’s what their portfolio is, versus somebody who can just like do it on their own?
Like when it comes to like a copy, right? You wanna pick somebody who has a similar voice, like a great copywriter who can do anything, right? But really finding someone who has an essence like you is important. When it comes to copy, how important is that when it comes to design?
Or is that a great designer can do anything?
Megan: Yeah, I would definitely say that that’s an important factor. The other thing that I would say, you know, like making sure that you look at their portfolio to, you know, make sure that you resonate with those samples that they’re showing. The other thing that I would say too is like taking a look at like what they offer.
Just because like not every web designer is gonna do SEO. Not every web designer is going to honestly have this knowledge of the strategy for like, how to lay out your website for conversion. This is like something that like, kind of fires me up, to be honest with you. There’s a lot of web designers, I say this in quotes, web designers on Fiverr that like, yes, they can technically put a website together and they can have a website to you in five days, and it might be at a very, very low rate.
But if your goal is to, let’s say you have an e-commerce business. If your goal is to make more sales from your products, you know, not all of these web designers that are shelling out websites for at that cheap of a rate are gonna know the strategy and like the, you know, the tactics around like building a website that will actually convert.
So I would take a look at like what clients, you know, they have worked with in the past. Take a look at, you know, like if you have access to like, how to optimize a website. Like I did a TikTok the other day actually, where I was like taking a look at, The, the top templates on Creative Market.
And I was like looking at like the top 20 website templates that popped up and I was like, geez, I, I’m looking at these and like, none of these are optimized for sales. So like, technically, can you build a website? Yeah. And I guess you can SEO your creative market listing to get you high on that, marketplace.
Some of it is like, this is why some folks like are like a little bit hesitant about like hiring a designer cuz they, there’s so many of these people out there that just like, honestly are kind of ripping people off. Like it’s, it’s sad. Yeah.
Lauren: And then they, and you’re the one that they’re coming to, to like fix the Fiverr website that doesn’t work?
Megan: In some cases, yes.
Lauren: Awesome. Well, thank you so much. Is there anything else you would tell to somebody who is like, you know, ugh, I need to do this, but you know, I’m not ready, or It seems like a big process? What would you say to somebody who’s like kind of on the fence about getting started?
Megan: Yeah. Well, I can only speak for myself. But when you work with me on a website design, it’s very much like you give me the assets. We have a few meetings, but then I do everything for you. So it’s pretty much kind of a white glove service in that kind of regard.
You don’t really have to do a ton. You just provide me the assets and the direction that you wanna go and, give me your feedback when ask for it. And yeah, I just pretty much take care of the rest. So it’s one of those things where if you’re in that position where you have like di wide it up until this point and you’re really looking for somebody to take the reins on, like, okay, I need a strategic website that’s going to convert, I’m your go.
If you’re interested in chatting about the web design process, I’d love to chat with you. We’re gonna include a link in the show notes where you can fill out an application to work with me.
Lauren: Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing all of that about the web design process. And thank you to our listeners for listening today. You’re a fan of the show.
Please leave us at five star review wherever you listen to podcasts. And until next time, stay sparkly.
About The Your Sparkly Brand Podcast
On Your Sparkly Brand, we aim to inspire and empower female entrepreneurs like you. This podcast is all about making your marketing & branding “sparkly.”
Each week we share valuable tips and tricks, discuss common mindset challenges, and interview inspiring female business owners. In a world that tries to pit women against each other, Your Sparkly Brand is saying NO to that B.S.
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