The Design Phase

Once the discovery phase has ended, it’s time for the designer to, you know, design the website. This is typically a fairly hands off part of the process for you. So today, let’s talk about a few things you need to ask the designs and the designer so that you end up with the best…

So the good news is that we’re about halfway through the number of steps it takes to build your website.

The bad news is that we’re sort of stuck in one of the hardest and longest phases of the entire process: the design phase.

That’s right. Once the discovery phase is done, it’s time to design the website. And the good news is that if you’ve hired a developer, you don’t have to worry about actually doing any of the designs.

But you still have to look over them and make sure they’re what you want. And there’s still that pesky thing of waiting for the developer to come back with the designs. And it can seem like it takes like forever.

So here are a few things to keep in mind during the design phase.

Patience is key

At this point we’ve reached the parts of the process that are going to seem to move the slowest. But they are the most important parts of the process, and they need to take their time.

Good web design doesn’t come in a day. It takes time to get it right. Depending on the size of your website, there can be a lot of templates that have to be designed. Take a look at my website. How many different templates are being used? It’s quite a lot.

Of course, my site is probably an outlier on the high end of things, but if you’re wanting to run a large-ish site with an online store, there are at least 10 different templates that have to be designed. And that takes a lot of time. That’s at least two weeks of work.

Plus, the designer has to think about other scenarios, such as what does it look like on tablet and mobile screen sizes, what are form elements going to look like and how are they going to make sure it’s accessible for everybody.

So, just like the discovery process, sit back and run your business. As long as the developer is hitting their deadlines, everything will come in due time.

Be open minded but critical

When the designer does come to you with the designs, again, keep an open mind about what they’re presenting. Again, they are the experts and they know what’s going to result in a positive user experience, and in the end, that’s what really matters.

That being said, again, you’re well within your rights to be critical and question different things about the design. If you see something odd, ask the designer about it and listen to what they say. And if they satisfy your question, then just move on. If not, then maybe press them a little bit further, but stay respectful.

A tough but fair approach to the designs (and really the entire process) will lead to a much better website for you.

Check to see if the design fits your business and content

Next, make sure that the design truly matches your business and your content.

If you have a sporting goods website, you’re probably don’t want an artsy design, unless that’s your aesthetic, which is perfectly fine. Likewise, you probably don’t want a straight-laced, suit and tie type website if you run a floral shop or something similar.

In that same vein, make sure the design matches the content that you have or want to have. If you’re wanting to show off more photos, make sure the design reflects that. And if your content is more text-based, make sure the design isn’t photo heavy.

If you don’t feel like the design matches your business or your content, talk to the designer about that. Be respectful, as always, but see if you two can sit down and talk about some things and get back on the same page. There’s still time to fix things easily if you need to.

Make sure it’s functional and practical

Also, make sure that the design is going to be usable on a real actual webpage. The design might look like the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen, but if it’s unusable on a website because of bad color contrast or other functionality issues, then it’s not worth anything.

Of course, the designer should have figured this out by the time they’re coming to you with the designs. But sometimes things fall through the cracks. The designer has probably been looking at the designs so much that sometimes they become blinded to different issues and having your second set of eyes can help both of you figure out what needs to be better. Trust me, I have been there before, and I have done that before.

Also make sure there are responsive elements. Make sure the designer has designs for both mobile and tablet screen sizes as well as the normal desktop size. How will the design look at smaller screen sizes? Does it still look modern and good at those sizes?

So go through the designs as if you were a completely new visitor to the website, and be critical about it.

Does it stand out?

Finally, you need to make sure that your website stands out from the crowd. If you’re paying for a custom web design, you need to make that your website doesn’t look like someone else’s.

And sure, you can have design inspiration from other websites. I’m sure you like the look of other websites and I’m pretty sure you’ve told the developer about those websites and what you like and don’t like about them. And some of those elements probably will be in the final design in some way.

But the website on the whole needs to stick out from other websites. It needs to be uniquely yours. When people are on your website, they need to know that this is your business.

So make sure it’s unique and if it’s not, again, sit down with the designer and fix it.

Next steps

So, that is the design phase in a nutshell. Again, make sure to be patient during this process and always respectful. I know you want to have the perfect website and so does your developer and/or designer. So be sure to ask questions and be critical, but also do it in a respectful way. That way all of you can help build a website that you all will be proud of.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in comments below or reach out on social media. You can also learn more about creating a website for your business over on my website. I have a bevy of resources and blog posts that can help you make informed decisions during this entire process.

When you’re ready to move on to the next step, I’ll see you in the next video.

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