What is web development?
Web development is a broad term used to describe the work that goes into building websites and web applications, from coding and build to debugging and maintenance. Having an online presence in the shape of a website can have a massive impact on business credibility, brand awareness and the generation of leads and revenue, so it’s definitely worth exploring if you’ve yet to make a website for your business.
Websites are hosted on servers and can be accessed through browsers by anyone with the website IP address or domain name. They’re also searchable through search engines like Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo, which can bring organic traffic to sites dependent on search engine ranking.
The majority of websites are developed using a website builder, the most popular being WordPress which currently hosts a whopping 64% of all websites. The second most popular website builder is Shopify, which hosts 6% of all websites as of November 2022. Choosing the right website builder is often the first challenge in a web design project as the type of website you’ll need is dependent on your company type and desired outcomes.
It’s also possible to develop a website without the use of a website builder. Custom sites are entirely unique but the process to create them is usually far more time-consuming and expensive. And you’ll still need to pay for a web hosting provider if you build a custom site, unless you have access to a private server. Create8 is here to help if you need support getting set up with a host.
Web development projects vary in size, from single, static brochure pages to complex, interactive social networking sites. But no matter the size of the project, all involve a mixture of front-end and back-end development…
Front-end vs. Back-end Development
All websites have two sides to them: the front end and the back end. Front-end development is a term used to describe the work carried out on the ‘client-side’ of web development projects, i.e. the parts users see and interact with, whereas back-end development covers the work that happens behind the scenes on the ‘server-side’.
Front-end and back-end developers must work together to ensure a website can function as intended, and neither is much use without the other (unless we’re talking about full-stack developers, of course, who can do it all)! Without carefully crafted back-end code, the layout, buttons and graphics on the front end wouldn’t be interactive, and without user-friendly navigation and content organisation, the website won’t attract or retain users, rendering the code pointless.
What’s the difference between web design and web development?
The internet is littered with contradictory opinions on the difference between web design and web development. For some, web design is synonymous with front-end development (since it’s concerned with layout, usability and visual aesthetic), whereas others make further distinction between the two, classing web designers in the same vein as graphic designers and leaving front-end developers to sort out the code.
At Create8, we believe there’s no development without design and vice versa. Our web design packages include front-end and back-end development as well as the design and implementation of content and graphics, so you can be sure your website will look great and function as expected.
Do I need a web developer?
While it’s possible to design and build a website using a website builder without knowing how to code, the functionality and customisability of that website will be significantly limited without some insider knowledge. We recommend that all businesses hire a web design agency for the build and maintenance of their website, if it’s within budget.
We have both front-end and back-end developers in house with the skills needed to tackle any web design project, as well as graphic designers, a UX specialist and a creative content writer on hand to bring your site to life. Get in touch with Create8 today to find out what we can do for your business.
What is UX design?
User experience (UX) should always take priority when building websites because it’s about providing a seamless and relevant user journey. Closely related to theories of psychology, UX design shapes the layout and function of web pages to determine how patrons use and connect with the elements on your site.
Optimising your website for UX requires several considerations, the first being knowledge of your audience – website hierarchy and user flow must make sense to visitors to keep bounce rates at a minimum. Usability should always come before aesthetics because, no matter how stylish your website, customers will leave if it’s too complex or convoluted to achieve their goal. And accessibility is yet another facet to consider – as many people as possible should be able to use your website, including those with disabilities.
Is SEO part of web development?
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is closely related to web development because both help to determine whether your website will be successful or not. If your website is inadequately designed for UX, for example, quality content and fast loading speeds will do little to boost your search engine rankings. And if you’re not maximising on long-tail keywords or appearing on the first few pages of Google, then you’ll miss out on conversions from organic traffic, no matter how stylish and functional your website is!
UX, SEO, front-end and back-end development – it’s all getting a bit complicated now, isn’t it? If you’d rather leave it to the professionals, get in touch with Create8 today and don’t forget to check out our previous web design projects to see what we could do for you.
The Web Design Process
Whether you’d like a new website or are looking to redesign an existing one, we’ve developed an effective strategy for building websites that really pack a punch. And once you’ve solidified your online presence with a top-notch website, you’ll have a wider reach, better credibility and a place to showcase your identity to increase brand awareness and position yourself as an authority in your sector.
The Create8 web design process for Shopify and WordPress consists of 8 phases:
- Wireframe Development and UX Design
- Style Guide Development
- Content Collection and Visual Design
- Website Build and SEO
- Host and Launch.
Each phase is detailed below to help you understand exactly what you’ll be signing up for when you start a web design project with Create8.
Shopify vs. WordPress
First things first, you’ll need to decide whether Shopify or WordPress is more suitable to host your website. If you have a store and want to start selling products or services online, Shopify is likely to be your best option. If the goal of your website is simply to represent your online presence and inform people about your business operations, WordPress is probably more suitable.
You’ll be able to chat about your options with your dedicated Create8 account manager if you’re still unsure.
Phase 1: Scope
During this phase, you’ll speak with your account manager to talk about your vision for your website and what you hope to achieve from working with Create8. You’ll let us know the type of website you require (e.g. informational, membership, eCommerce) and we’ll liaise internally to work out a bespoke solution to suit your needs. We’ll create a proposal outlining our recommended approach, as well as an estimated price and timeframe.
Once you’ve read through the proposal, you’ll have a secondary call with your account manager and discuss the outlined approach so that we can amend it if necessary before you receive the full spec, quote and finalised price. Then, your account manager will hand the project over to your project manager.
Phase 2: Discovery
For the discovery phase, you’ll join your project manager and members of the Create8 web design team on a discovery call (approx. 2 hours). During the discovery call, we’ll ask questions about your business and the products or services you offer so we have a clear idea of the content you’d like to push and at what volume. We’ll also discuss how best to structure the navigational experience.
We’ll explore graphics styles that are in keeping with your brand and find out your aspirations for the website’s look and feel. We’ll ask questions to determine where your company fits in the market, discussing competitors and the composition of your sector so we can see exactly where you sit. We’ll even ask what you think of competitor websites so we know what you like and what you want to avoid.
Finally, we’ll define your target audience so we have a clear idea of who to focus on and what their needs and motivations are. This will also inform us about the actions customers should take when they visit your website.
Our discovery call questions are extensive and specifically designed to help us build a clear picture of your brand so that we can develop something that’s truly a cut above the rest.
Phase 3: Research
Using the information gathered during the discovery phase, we’ll start to envision how your website will look. Our UX specialist will conduct independent research to find out about the websites your target audience favours and how they typically interact with them. From style and layout to user flow, we’ll piece together what competitors in your sector and beyond are doing right and what they’re doing wrong, so we can be sure to build something that works for you and your customers.
If we’re building your website on a Shopify theme, we’ll explore them at this stage and discuss our suggestions with you to ensure everyone is on the same page. We also offer completely bespoke Shopify and WordPress builds.
Phase 4: Wireframe Development and UX Design
The next step is for our UX specialist to create a wireframe of your website. A wireframe is a low-fidelity design (‘skeleton’) of your site that maps out its structure before visual elements are included. Wireframes allow us to focus on website functionally and user flow to make sure your site is designed with UX in mind. We’ll also create a wireframe for the mobile version of your site.
Using Adobe XD, we’ll mock up each page and include boxes and dummy text to show where content will appear. We’ll tweak and rearrange until you’re satisfied with the pages and layout and present this to you to confirm we’re on the right track. When you’re happy, we’ll add functionality to the wireframe to test the hierarchy and user flow and see how visitors will click through your site to achieve their goal.
Phase 5: Style Guide Development
Next, one of our graphic designers will develop the visual design of your website. We’ll also explore design styles and a visual direction for your website, all in keeping with your brand guidelines. This will allow us to implement your extended identity. Using your brand guidelines and assets, we’ll add relevant imagery, graphics, fonts, colours and icons to 3 folds of the homepage (a fold is everything visible on a web page in a single screen orientation). We’ll choose folds that incorporate different style elements so you can get a solid idea of how the entire website might look and feel.
The wireframe folds will function like a style guide, dictating the design and rules for your website to ensure all of the elements can be executed consistently and in accordance with your brand guidelines. We’ll present everything to you so you can clearly see our visions for yourself. We pride ourselves on our collaborative approach and welcome your feedback at this stage to make sure we’re meeting all of your expectations.
Phase 6: Content Collection and Visual Design
While your graphic designer is hard at work, we’ll use the wireframe to create a written content collection form that maps out all of the text needed for your website. We’ll share the collection form with you so that you can add text, as desired, to replace the dummy text on the wireframe.
All of our web design packages include proofreading but we also offer content editing and content writing as an add-on service. Speak to your account manager to discuss your options.
Once the style guide is finalised, we’ll roll out the visual design to the wireframe homepage, followed by the other pages. This will provide you with an accurate representation of your entire website, including brand elements, colour scheme, graphics, imagery and finalised written content. We’ll present this to you for sign off before we start the website build.
Phase 7: Website Build and SEO
Once everything is finalised, we can finally begin building your website! Our web developers will use their expertise to build out your website on a development server so that everything can be viewed in real time.
We’ll fully actualise the visual into a working website model inside WordPress or Shopify and give you the ability to update the content. We’ll check that the user flow works as designed, and to ensure your website ranks well on search engines, we’ll optimise the website speed, image file names and URL structure. Everything on the website, from images and search bars to menus and buttons, will become functional as well as look good!
We’ll also set up Google Analytics, Google Search Console, third party connections and plugins, if required. We’ll check browser compatibility to ensure the site works with all modern browsers and that the layouts are responsive for mobile, tablet and desktop devices. Lastly, we’ll carry out our ‘before live checklist’ and produce a non-live testing environment to allow for feedback so that final tweaks can be made.
Phase 8: Hosting and Launch
Once you’ve signed off on your new website, we can also help host this for you, ensuring there’s enough server space for all of the necessary files and data as well as space for the site to grow. Finally, we’ll set a launch date for your website and launch your site so that it’s live on the internet. From there you’ll be able to grow your online presence, express your brand identity and turn website visitors into leads!
We offer website training packages so that you can learn how to use and update your website yourself, and maintenance packages to keep your website performing at its best. Have a chat with your account manager to discuss your options.
Get in touch!
A fast-loading and visually appealing website that’s optimised for UX is essential to any business. Whether you want to sell physical or digital products or services, shout about your company’s achievements or boost your business credibility, our web design team is here to help.