The Process — Web Design Edition
It would be difficult for a brand to thrive without a digital or web presence in today's world. A web page or website often becomes a first impression, on behalf of your business, to a potential client or customer.
That is why we work with brands to create thoughtful webpages with carefully curated content in an effort to hand-off a site that well-represents your brand and drives viewers to your business.
When thinking about working with us to create a bespoke website for you or your company, there are some things we always like to share with you at the beginning.
At the moment we only use and trust Squarespace as our web hosting platform.
Squarespace is a web hosting platform, that we Shore—Creative, use for our website. A web host, or web hosting service provider, is a business that provides the technologies and services needed for a website or webpage to be viewed on the internet. We have a blog post up about why we love Squarespace, you can read that here.
Squarespace services are a cost separate from our web design services. They are highly competitive in their pricing and offer the best bang for your buck, when it comes to their delivery and track record. As a Squarespace Circle Member, we can offer clients 20% off annual pricing for new websites. Since they are highly flexible, Squarespace does also offer monthly pricing. For the most recent hosting prices, those can be found here.
Squarespace sites are all based on templates that can be manipulated. We use these templates as foundations for building your unique website. We can even inject custom CSS/HTML code to further alter your site and deliver to you a one-of-a-kind website upon finalization. Since each site is based on a templated format, there are some design elements that cannot be altered.
That covers the basics on our information regarding web hosting. Now, here is the step-by-step run down of our process:
As with our branding services, the initiation of our web design process always starts with your need for a new website, or an updated one. We then connect and have our first meeting to discuss our compatibility. When we work with branding clients, compatibility really means we like you to have a clear understanding of the design services we offer, our philosophical design approach and your needs. With web design, it works the same way, with some added particulars. For instance, as mentioned above - we only use Squarespace - so we work with you to make sure this is an appropriate fit for your web needs and goals.
Whenever possible, we love to sit down with potential clients. However, a lot of our clients aren't nearby, so a Skype or phone call is also a viable option! This conversation also serves as our audit of what you'll need and how we will interpret that information into deliverables and services which we then provide a quote for.
Once approved, that quote becomes an invoice and contract (terms and conditions, file sharing, asset delivery specifications, etc.) that we send your way. In order to secure the time in our calendar for your project, we require a 50% deposit up front. The remaining balance is paid out in installments that are scheduled, with the last installment due the day prior to your site launch. That way, we can transfer site ownership over to you on Squarespace.
2 Domain Name
Now the work begins...
The first step, whether you have done this on your own or if you plan to do it with us, you purchase a domain name. This will be your url, web address, web name, etc. For example, www.shore-creative.com. It is the name that a site viewer will type into their search bar.
The more directly related to your business name, the better. This is always the first step because you need to first make sure the domain name you desire is available for purchase. We recomend using Squarespace or GoDaddy to purchase your domain name. We trust both sources.
3 Project Definition + Scope
Once your site space is parked (purchased), we can begin to discuss the structure of your site and what you want to accomplish. We will work together to narrow down a summary of what you are looking for, what your goals are, who your target audience is, what type of copy/information you'd like to exhibit, and what the websites of your competitors look like.
Part of a successful site means getting to know the particulars of your brand and business, so that we can translate that information into a hardworking website that will educate it's viewer and provide calls to action that will translate to direct sales or inquiry.
We will also discuss and come to an agreement on project scope. We will define the deliverables for your website, things like; required pages, information, capabilities, and content inclusion. We will also work with other creatives involved in your site design. For instance (with your permission), we might reach out to photographers you have already hired or work with to begin a relationship with them that allows us to take the reigns and keep a direct line of communication between all those imperative to your site completion.
4 Research + Aesthetics
Using the same techniques as our branding process, we will get to know your personal design preferences and those that relate to your brand. The best websites are for businesses that have already undergone some form of professional branding. This means we essentially have all we need, as far as design assets, in order to give you a beautiful website. It also allows us to use your brand manual - if you have one - to provide guidelines for what typefaces, colors and imagery we use on the website.
We can work together using tools like Pinterest to narrow down a look and feel for a website that best suites your brand and work to give you a custom version based on design inspiration.
5 Testing + Revisions
Once we have all the above worked out, we begin to build out your website. We will chose a template style that best aligns with your provided goals and design preferences. We will then present to you the first round of your website. This initial round is for general layout and information approval. It will be our modern version of a live wire-frame of your site. We want to make sure you like how the site functions, how it seamlessly converts from desktop, tablet to mobile layout and that you feel the site includes all of the pages, calls to action and information you feel is vital to your particular business and brand.
From there we fine tune and move on to implementing your brand colors, styles, typefaces and logo and iconography. This step always works best when you have gone through the formal process of branding - all sites with full branding content always end up looking the best. We work with you to help curate your selected imagery for your site, or we work with you to hire photographers that we know and trust in order to create one of a kind media that makes your site better than you could have imagined. The bottom line here, is that sites with quality content ALWAYS impress you and your potential customer/client.
6 Launch + Deliverables
Once your quoted number of revisions is reached, or we have finally come to a place of finalization - we set a site launch date. In the days prior to this date we work to run through the entire site, check for spelling/grammar issues, test buttons and forms, make sure scale and layout works on all device platforms and triple check our work. We ask you to take time to do the same, so that you know exactly what to expect when your site is made public.
Then...you're live! You can announce your new website however you'd like. We are happy to create original content for social media or an email campaign to help announce your launch and celebrate your new web presence.
7 Maintenance + Sessions
Part of why we love Squarespace, is it's user friendly back door interface. It's a drag and drop platform that allows for ease in editing and layout. When you start to add things like custom code and CSS editing to provide a client with a more unique and bespoke site - like we do - it can start to get more complex, but the foundation is built out to serve those without much web design experience. For that reason, we will usually offer two web design packages when we quote your project.
One will include Squarespace Sessions where we work with you in three parts to teach you the fundamentals of Squarespace, your site layout/functions and it's design. These are meant to give you the tools to execute minor edits to text, compose and publish blog posts, swap out or add imagery and make changes to type and color.
The other quote will only include the site design and build out. This sort of implies you don't want to do site editing or updates yourself. Whenever you need a change, minor maintenance or re-structuring, we can do that for you. We have a web maintenance rate that we charge hourly (in quarter hour increments) for such work. This is a great option for those business owners that just don't have the time and are happy to have it just done for them.
Whether you opt for the post-launch training or not, all of our web design projects come with a 30 day grace period (beginning the day of your site launch) where we make any minor edits or changes, in an effort to leave you with a site you absolutely love!
We hope this post helps you better understand our overall approach to beautiful web design and construction with Squarespace. Think we left something out? If you have any questions, leave us a comment, send us an email or dm @shorecreative.