Every piece of a website can affect the way that visitors move through its pages. Even a simple change — like a navigation bar going from horizontal to vertical — can completely change your website user flow. To achieve the results your clients want, your website designs must be intentional.

Refining your website creation process is key to mindful web design. By taking the right steps to build a website, you can ensure your site is fully in line with your client’s vision. The step-by-step process we outline below can serve as your roadmap to a more effective site.

1. Define the Company

Great websites aren’t just the results of technical prowess. While you need to know how to execute great user experience design, you also need to take time to strategize. To start, get to know the company you’re creating a website for.

You should understand your client’s brand — from its mission and tone of voice to its visual aesthetic — as well as its goals. Ask your client what they want to achieve with their site. A website that’s built for fast product sales looks different from a B2B site that’s focused on creating value and gaining leads.

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2. Define the Target Audience

Helping clients achieve their website goals requires you to understand their audience, as well. If your client doesn’t already have a well-defined target audience, work with them to create one. Identify the characteristics that define their ideal clients, including:

  • Demographics: These include measurable characteristics like age, gender, ethnicity, income, and marital status.
  • Psychographics: These are characteristics that define a person’s behavior or mindset, like personality, values, lifestyles, and interests.
  • Geographics: Define where your target audience is located.

This step will come in handy as you create content and design your website user flows. You’ll be able to step into the shoes of your target audience and know what will motivate them to move closer to a purchase.

3. Identify Competitors

Getting to know your client’s competitors can help you build a better website, as well. This step can help you spot and capitalize on relevant website design trends in your client’s industry and market. All the while, it’ll help you find opportunities to differentiate your website.

Work with your client to identify at least three direct competitors. Go through their sites and take notes about their website user flow, content, and overall design. What stands out and what could you do better?

Asking your client to identify what they like and dislike about their competitors’ sites can be helpful, too. This will give you a more precise design direction.

4. Start Initial Designs

After you’ve collected key information, the more hands-on steps to build a website can begin.

For great user experience design, you can start by creating a sitemap, which defines how you’ll structure your site. List out the core pages of your website — the ones that will show up in your navigation — then identify the subpages that will go under each. For example, a “Meet the Team” page might go under “About.”

Uploading and sharing your designs will help you nail down the right visuals, aesthetics, and UI elements for your site without wasting time. With SimpleStage, your clients can leave feedback on your design, using markups and comment threads for visual context. If they request any updates, you won’t have to backtrack after you’re knee-deep in the development process, which can be costly.

5. Gather Content

Great user experience design includes the creation of effective content. Relevant content makes a website more meaningful — as well as easy to find on search engines.

Using your wireframes and designs for reference, you can have your clients start writing content for each individual page of the site. Effective content writing is clear and uses your client’s unique brand voice. If your client’s company is youthful and fun, product descriptions shouldn’t sound like academic museum labels.

For search engine optimization (SEO), don’t forget to include keywords in the content.

When you need to collect content from your clients, SimpleStage makes it easy. Simply request content for specific sections. You can give your clients suggestions like “this section should be two sentences long” or “use 50 characters or less for this section.” Once your clients have filled out the content for your specified sections, SimpleStage will alert you to let you know the content has been collected!

6. Develop the Website

With your designs and content set, you can bring your client’s website to life. This is the stage where the full website build occurs. Whether you plan to develop the website yourself or have a development team to build it for your client, this is where the website comes to life.

Work with your client to collect hosting and domain information. Pro Tip: If you collect this at the beginning of the design phase, it will allow you to move quickly rather than be held up by the client gathering this information for you.

7. Test, Test, Test

One of the most important steps to build a website is the testing phase. Once you

You will perform the first rounds of testing. As you do, look out for website bugs and general opportunities to improve the site. You can use SimpleStage to efficiently report bugs and leave feedback on each web page you test. If you notice an issue with the website user flow — for example, if a CTA isn’t noticeable enough to drive an action — you can leave feedback directly on the element.

Launch Upon Completion

Taking our seven steps to build a website allows you to launch a site that’s aligned with your client’s goals and design expectations. Start with strategy by defining their company, target audience, and competitors. Then, throughout the design and development processes, you can use SimpleStage to collect valuable feedback and content. An effective, streamlined launch is one tool away.