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A simple guide to the website design process

This guide details the steps you can take to redesign your website. It’s broken down into different sections to give you an overview of all the areas you need to be thinking about to build a site that is both future-proof and fit for purpose.

Creating a web design brief and selecting an agency

Generally speaking, a website design project will follow a certain structure. The structure will vary depending on if you decide to go down the self-build route, or with an agency.

In either case, to start with you’ll need to create a brief. If you need to write a brief for your project, then you can refer to these resources Writing a web brief and Selecting an agency. You might also find the webinar on How to plan effective and engaging content for your website useful too.

Website design process

Once you have the brief you can send it out to agencies or developers, or use it to refer to during the process if you’re going down the self-build route.

To give you an idea of the steps involved, the following is an example of the typical flow of a redesign project:

Discover – Define what the site needs to do and how it feeds into your vision

  • Establish the purpose of the website
  • Stakeholder interviews to uncover internal thoughts and gain buy-in
  • Website user feedback workshops or questionnaires
  • Research what similar projects have done both inside and outside your space for inspiration

Identify and audit – Establish where you are now and scope out the things you need to build the site

  • Decide the primary and secondary objectives for the site (you might like to use the MOSCOW process, (see this article)
  • Define audiences and who you are speaking to
  • Log the content you currently have
  • Identify the content you need to create, and what types (articles videos, images, etc)
  • Define the integrations and functionality needed (ticketing/eCommerce/newsletter/ticketing/CRM platforms, etc)
  • Agree on the scope of work and who will be responsible for what
  • Identify accessibility requirements
  • Agree on a timeline/roadmap/phased approach
  • Create a comms plan for the launch of the new site
  • Establish if your site visitors are mostly using computers, tablets or mobiles
  • Assess the effectiveness of your current content and decide if you need to keep, amend, or remove it
  • Create a plan for the things you need to track the objectives

Create – Bringing the plan to life

  • Create the sitemap
  • Draft wireframes
  • Create a more fully-formed look and feel
  • Initial sign-off of visuals
  • Initial build
  • Initial user experience (UX) testing
  • Stakeholder sign-off
  • Create any content needed

Curate – Populating the new site with content

  • Upload initial content
  • UX testing
  • Refinements
  • Integrate functionality
  • Sign-off initial build
  • Finish content uploads
  • Accessibility testing
  • User experience testing
  • Create accessibility statement
  • Create cookie and privacy policy
  • Refinements and sign-off

Launch – Making the new site live

  • Launch your new site
  • Create 301 redirects (instructions to send people to new pages that replace the old ones from a server level)
  • Integrate data analytics to measure objectives effectively
  • Final UX testing of website
  • Final refinements
  • Final sign-off
  • Deploy comms to publicise the new site

Ongoing – Post-launch activities

  • Measure, evaluate & experiment with your content to make it perform better
  • Maintain the site infrastructure and make sure the base engine and plugins are kept up to date with the latest releases etc.
  • Ongoing social media/comms/paid marketing to promote content
  • 6-month review of accessibility
  • 6-month review of cookie and privacy policy

Further Support

The Digital Culture Network is here to support you and your organisation. Our Tech Champions can provide free 1-2-1 support to all arts and cultural organisations who are in receipt of, or eligible for, Arts Council England funding. If you need help or would like to chat with us about any of the advice we have covered above, please get in touch. Sign up for our newsletter below and follow us on Twitter @ace_dcn for the latest updates.

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