Website design is an important part of a website’s project cycle. Here are some approaches to the design process.
Hire Designer or Design Agency
Designers must be held in the highest regard. They find an aesthetic that reflects your company and ideas. Doing this can be very difficult as both parties need to be in sync and on the same page. Probably the most important aspect of working with a designer is the personal relationship. We recommend that you chat with a few and see if there is any chemistry.
Willing Web works with a number of designers and design agencies, turning their website designs into fully functional WordPress themes. Try to work with a designer that is accustomed to designing for the web. Often print based designers have problems with the dimensions and envisaging how it will be rendered on a screen (comes with experience and research). The design also needs to behave well on mobile devices. We use a framework called “Bootstrap” (rows and columns) developed by Twitter to ensure it’s compatible at various sized screens. It’s common for the designer to provide a separate design for one of the pages (usually homepage) indicating how it should look on a smaller sized device.
A great option to find a remote designer is through the platform “99Designs“. It allas we can do much of the legwork and guide the designers on something that works with the web saving time in development. Let us know if this is something you’re interested in and we will guide you through the process.
Willing Web can assists in running the design competition on 99Designs for a management fee. It helps as we can do much of the legwork and guide the designers on something that works with the web saving time in development. Let us know if this is something you’re interested in and we will guide you through the process.
WordPress web design on 99Designs starts at about $800. For us to then code this into a theme it can take 1-4 weeks depending on the complexity of the design. You can see our developer rates on the Website Development page.
Replicate Another Website or Websites
In some cases, it makes sense to skip the design process. Usually for budget reasons or the website design isn’t required to be as individual. In this case, you can use example websites to indicate how it should look. It’s a good idea to look at businesses in the same industry perhaps in a different location. Make a list of links as you browse the web in general. What we are looking for is a website that looks like the one we are going to build.
We can change the colours, fonts and content easily but we want something we can replicate to save time in going back and forth. If different websites portray how different sections of how your site should look then we can mash them together in the final design. However, it’s still good to have a single website example that reflects the overall feel that we can then drop the other sections into. That way the design doesn’t end up confused.
Also, consider your logo. If your logo is large or square, have a look at designs with a similar shaped logo. Logos with a similar height as width are often better centered on the page or above a left column main navigation. We don’t want a design where the name and branding don’t flow through the site. Website for the logo or a logo for the website.
When we can see your vision through example we can build it into a theme. It can take 1-4 weeks depending on the complexity of the design. We may recommend an existing theme that could be used to cut corners but this will limit the ability to make design tweaks easily or add custom functionality. You can get an idea of cost from our developer rates on the Website Development page.
Purchase An Existing Theme/Design
We wish this was as simple as it sounds. Purchase a design and fill in the blanks seems like a great solution for many. Sadly, this comes with its own set of problems but many can be avoided if precautions are taken. It’s unlikely you will see the same website performance levels on a purchased theme versus a custom build. This is because a purchased theme tries to cater for a wide audience and therefore includes a lot of code under the surface that is obsolete. A good analogy is an iceberg compared to a boat. The boat or custom build is constructed for its sole purpose and easy to maneuver, changes to an iceberg however maybe a little slow but if you’re happy with an iceberg and it doesn’t need to move much then why not!
The goto marketplace for themes seems to be Themeforest. There are definitely some great works of art available.
Here are some tips when selecting a theme for your needs:
- Start with themes made for your industry.
- Check the popular ones and those with high and plentiful reviews.
- Do some research on the theme developer.
- See if the theme is responsive and loads quickly.
If this is your chosen direction, then you want to have a theme that will stand the test of time. Sales are a good indication of this as the developers have the funding to continue to support the theme in the future. One of our go to themes is Avada, it has been the most popular probably due to its flexibility for a few years now and they are always improving.
Custom functionality must be seriously considered as modifying existing themes can be very cumbersome and time consuming but at the end of the day, if you want something that looks good, up quickly (often cheaply) and don’t care greatly about control over the minor details then jump right in.
When we quote on setting up a purchased theme we give an estimation of time and offer optional and unlimited five-hour review rounds after that. That way you’re in control of your spending and can decide going forward on where the time should be spent. Typical theme setups are 15-40 hours with one to two five-hour revision rounds on top. Our hourly pricing can be seen here.