The process behind designing a website

Most clients have little idea of what exactly goes into designing a website. In this new series, I unpack the process we use at Headscape.

As web designers we love to emphasise the creativity of designing a website. We often portray ourselves as artists who have a moment of creative inspiration and then spontaneously produce the perfect design.

In reality design is a process that draws upon many tools and techniques. We use moodboards, stile tiles, wireframes, design testing, usability testing, split testing, element collages, design comps, prototypes and more.

Design is also much more effective when done in collaboration with the client. The client feels a greater sense of ownership over the site and the final result is normally much more likely to achieve its objectives.

I am starting a new series on designing a website

In this series I want to breakdown the elements involved in the design process and explain which tool is most appropriate in which circumstances.

We will also look at how the design process differs depending on the starting point. For example, there is little point in creating moodboards for a site that already has a well established brand.

Get the basics in place before you start designing a website

Before we jump in to our first post its important the basics are in place. Before we even start discussing design we must establish two things; your business objectives and user needs.

This is something we have talked about many times before on this blog so I won’t repeat myself. However I do want to give you a little advice on each.

  • When setting business objectives, always prioritise them.
  • Business objectives shouldn’t be vague. Make them as specific and as measurable as possible.
  • Like business objectives, prioritise your user groups. Accept that you won’t be able to create a design that appeals to everybody. If you try, you will create something that is bland and nobody will like. My adage is “design for somebody, alienate nobody.”
  • If you are going to create user personas, don’t obsess with their demographic details. What users want to do is more important.

With that in mind, before we kick off this series, read the following two posts:

Those articles should keep you busy until I return next wednesday with a post on creating online brands.

“Portrait of a little boy enjoying his painting. Education. Isolated over white background.” image courtesy of

Related Post

Never wireframe alone Most web designers consider the creation of wireframes an important part of their web design process. However, less consider it a group activity.
Why user personas are not enough User personas have become a staple deliverable for branding and web agencies. But, how useful are they really and what other tools help us understand users better?
Testing design: Testing users impressions of a design We all know that testing the sites we produce is important and there are well established techniques for testing usability. But what about testing aesthetics? What about testing design?
  • Andrew Micallef

    Great article, it’s all about User Involvement!