An Inside Look at My Design Process
The more projects I complete, the more I’ve been able to refine my process to help it be as smooth and enjoyable as possible. With my administration background, I am obsessed with thorough, organized and predictable processes. A streamlined process makes for a more positive client experience and provides quality control. To give an idea of what its like to work with me as your website designer, I thought I’d provide an inside look at my current process.
STEP 1 - INQUIRY PHASE
Potential client lands on my website and wants to work with me.
They click on the Work With Me link via my Contact form or Work With Me buttons and are taken to an Inquiry Form.
The Inquiry Form includes a link to my Service Guide.
The Service Guide includes all the details about the services I offer, my process, and pricing. As of now, I offer three different design package options with a flat fee pricing structure so that the cost is predictable.
If everything sounds good to them, then they can complete the Inquiry Form.
I’ll read over the inquiry form and if it sounds like we may be a good fit, I’ll send a link to my online scheduler for them to make an appointment for an inquiry phone call.
On the phone call, I’ll ask follow-up questions to make sure I understand their project needs, we’ll discuss the project timeline, and make sure that we’re a good fit to work together.
After the call, I’ll send over a proposal.
Once the client accepts the proposal, the contract and first invoice are magically generated, allowing the client to immediately sign the contract and pay the first invoice. I typically require 50% at signing and 50% at launch.
STEP 2 - CLIENT PREP PHASE
When I see that the client accepted the proposal, signed the contract, and paid the first invoice, I’ll send over a Welcome Packet.
The Welcome Packet clearly outlines the design process, goes over my studio policies (such as how I batch work to specific days), how we will communicate, the project timeline, what I need from the client, how to provide feedback and the next steps in the process.
The Welcome Packet also includes a link to their Client Portal. The Client Portal is kind of like an online folder that holds all the important project documents such as the executed contract, invoices, the design questionnaire and content worksheet.
The Design Questionnaire asks questions about the client’s brand identity, target market and project objectives. The answers on this questionnaire guide the design of the website.
The Content Worksheet helps the client collect the photos and copy.
I do not start on the design until both the Design Questionnaire and Content Worksheet are complete.
When I see that the client has completed the Design Questionnaire and Content Worksheet, I prepare The Design Brief.
Using information from the initial inquiry form, inquiry call, design questionnaire and content worksheet, I write up a Design Brief that outlines the brand identity and project objectives.
The Design Brief provides the client an opportunity to make sure I completely understand their brand, the goals of the project, and the requested design and function specifics before I even start on the design. If I’m missing something or didn’t totally understand, the client can provide clarity before we begin. This ensures we start out on the same page and shores up expectations.
STEP 3 - DESIGN PHASE
Once the client approves the Design Brief, I begin researching and gathering design inspiration. I start a Pinterest board for the project and pin away.
Next, I refine the Pinterest board, keeping only the most relevant images. I use these images, to create a Mood Board. From there, I develop the color palette and select font pairings.
Then I write up a presentation to accompany the mood board that explains the rationale behind my design decisions.
I send the Mood Board and Presentation to the client for their approval.
If this project includes a logo and brand design, I will start on the logo design and brand graphics.
Once the mood board (and logo design) are approved, I will launch a Coming Soon page to build anticipation for the new site.
Now the website design begins:
First, I set up the site navigation and create all the necessary pages.
Second, I resize and rename all the images so that they are SEO-friendly.
Next, I work on the layout, page by page, adding in all the content as I go, and designing the footer that will be seen on every page.
Then, I go through and adjust the styling on each page as needed to make sure everything looks good.
Next, I make sure the site is optimized for mobile and tablet use.
Finally, I go through my backend checklist to make sure all the settings are optimal for your business and SEO.
STEP 4 - REVIEW STAGE
Once the design is complete, I send the first preview of the website to the client, along with a little presentation that walks them through my design decisions.
The first preview of the website is available for 72 hours. The first preview presentation includes questions for the client that are focused on the overall look and feel of the website.
Once I receive the feedback from the client, I make any necessary changes and then we move into the second website preview.
The second preview of the website is focused on all the small text changes or minor edits that the client requests.
STEP 5 - LESSON & LAUNCH
After I complete this second round of edits, I send an email to schedule the Lesson & Launch Party! This email includes the final invoice and the lesson notes along with a few steps to prepare for the lesson.
The Squarespace Lesson & Launch Party typically takes 1.5 hours. During the lesson, I teach how to use the new site, help hook up social media and Google analytics, launch the new site, and transfer site ownership over to my client.
After the lesson and launch, I send over any relevant design files to the client along with a guide including tutorials to help you maintain the new site moving forward.
A few weeks after launch, I reach out to the client to make sure the site is functioning well for them and to gather their feedback on the process. I continue to work on improving my process so that it is as seamless, thorough and enjoyable as possible.
I am passionate about providing my clients the best experience possible. A website is a big investment and I want to show that I respect your time and money. I want my clients to trust that their website is in good hands. A clear, predictable process is an important part of making this a positive experience and giving my clients peace of mind and confidence that they are making a sound investment when they choose me as their designer.