Blog:

Our website design process

Whilst not set in stone, as each client is unique, Hot Lemon likes to use this process when it comes to designing a website for our clients. We’ve structured our process in this way so that we can get an in-depth understanding of our client, what their objectives and preferences are and to be able to design and deliver a finished website that fully meets the client’s requirements.

Understanding the challenge

The first part of the process, discovery, is in two parts. The first part is getting a clear understanding of what the client wants the website to do, or in other words - objective setting. Whilst the second part is getting to know the client, the market it operates in and the challenges they face to understand what will or will not work – aka research.

Objective setting

Seemingly the simplest part of the process, but arguably, the hardest – setting objectives for what the new website should deliver.

Firstly, what is the overall objective of the site:

  • Business generation tool
  • Business support tool.

It can be both (most sites are), but the overall focus (and importance) should determine the level of resources which should be directed at the site, both initially and ongoing.

Secondly, what are the more specific objectives of the site:

  • Increasing sales
  • Reducing costs (of sales/support)
  • Developing customer relationships/customer support
  • Developing/supporting the brand.

There are many variations here, and again, it could be a combination of many different ones.

Thirdly, what is the target market, and how can it be defined in terms of:

  • Geographic
  • Interest
  • Demographic.

The target market is perhaps the hardest to define. It needs to be as specific and granular as possible – whilst still being realistically targetable.

Fourthly, what is the ongoing marketing strategy/investment for the website:

  • Actively or passively managed
  • Linking into other marketing activities (social media)
  • Search Engine Optimisation

Research

The next step of the process is research – understanding our clients better, their business, their existing customers, their target customers, their competition, and their market.

The Business

Understanding our client’s business:

  • Type of business
  • Corporate identity / Brand profile
  • Resourcing levels / Technical expertise
  • Strengths & weaknesses.

Existing customers & target market

Understanding the existing and potential market of our clients:

  • Type of client:
    • B2B – size / type / industry sector
    • B2C – socio-demographics
  • Geographic location
  • Attitudes / preferences / behaviour.

The competition

Understanding our client’s competitors:

  • Type of business
  • Current online / marketing activities
  • Strengths & weaknesses

The market

Understanding the market the client operates in:

  • Market size and distribution
  • Market trends
  • What’s worked elsewhere (hasn’t worked)

By understanding our clients better – their capabilities and their market, we can develop more effective online (and offline if needed) solutions.

Developing a proposition

Having a clear understanding of the objectives that the client has, their business, and the market they operate in, allows Hot Lemon to develop a proposal in conjunction with the client.

As part of this process, we ascertain how much involvement the client wants in creating the new site in terms of structure and content. For example, some clients have a firm view of what they want to communicate and how to communicate it, whilst others only have an outline.

For example, does the client:

  • Want the website structured in a specific way
  • Want to write their own content and provide their own artwork & imagery
  • Provide draft outlines and/or suggestions for content
  • Want Hot Lemon to manage the whole process including the creation of content and sourcing of imagery

The proposal

Having ascertained the level of involvement the client wants in the process; Hot Lemon can then develop a detailed proposal for the client.

Usually, this proposal will consist of the following:

  • Outline structure of the proposed website (pages and the like)
  • Content outlines for each part of the site (and who has responsibility for that creating that content)
  • Outline functionality requirements (social media integration / eCommerce / integration with other systems etc.)
  • Proposed timeline

If the above can be defined sufficiently, we will provide a fixed-cost quote for the design, development, and launch of the site (subject to some limitations).

Creating the dream

Having done the basics of identifying the client’s objectives, researching their market, and getting a good understanding of the content for the site, we start putting “pen to paper”. 

Design concept & development

Initially, we will develop a range of “home page” concepts for the client (as the home page usually defines the look and feel of the rest of the site). These will be in the form of static graphic files, so the client can get a feel for how the site might look.

Once a particular design concept has been chosen, we will then create outlines of the page types within the previously agreed structure of the site (for example, a service page/contact page/blog page, etc.).

Depending on the complexity or required functionality of the site (and budget), we can also develop a simple “live” mock-up of the site, so the client can play around with it and see what it feels like in real life.

Development

After agreeing on the outline designs, we get to the nitty-gritty of coding the site itself.

We develop our sites using a Content Management System (CMS) so that when the site goes live, the client themselves can easily manage the site themselves if they wish. If the client has a specific requirement for updating the site (for example writing blog posts and the like), we can adapt the CMS to make this intuitive and easily accessible for the client.

The site will be developed on a test server, which the client will have access to during development, allowing for regular reviews if necessary.

On completion, the client will be invited to review the site on the test server, before signing it off for go-live.

Into the wild

On signing off the development site, the new website will be transferred to the live environment.

Hot Lemon we give a minimum period of two weeks as the launch window for a new site – where we will amend, tinker, and adapt as the client requires – cognizant that they will be receiving feedback and may want to make minor changes as they experience the live site.

Search Engines & Analytics

All our sites are submitted to search engines and by default come installed with Google Analytics tracking software (we register the website with Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools). We then set this up, so the client has full access to their analytics data if they require it.

Marketing & promotion

Depending on the client and their market some prefer a soft launch (where they don’t announce the new site initially – letting the site get bedded in and indexed) while others prefer a hard launch – where they actively promote it.

Hot Lemon can help with both. Either marketing and promoting the site to existing clients or developing campaigns and strategies to promote the site to a wider audience.

Managing the site

Regularly updating a website is critical – both in terms of updating existing content and adding additional relevant content. Not only for visitors – but for search engines too.

As mentioned, all our websites come with an easy-to-use Content Management System (CMS) so that our clients can update their websites easily themselves. However, most of our clients choose not to, instead getting Hot Lemon to manage the site for them.

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