How a web design expert recommends approaching site redesigns
An interview with GA Creative principal Jeff Welsh, a master of design who helps businesses tell their stories.
There’s no question that having a user-friendly website is an important business asset. Often, teams know their current site isn’t meeting expectations, but aren’t sure when or how to embark on a redesign. That’s because designing a website requires an investment of time and budget. It’s a worthwhile investment when the resulting site will pay off in terms of supporting your business strategy and enabling more effective branding, marketing and lead generation efforts. But what does a website redesign process entail? We turned to GA principal Jeff Welsh for his insights.
When a client asks you to design a website, what are the first questions you ask? If I’m talking with a client that feels a website redesign is in order, the most important thing for me to understand is, “What do you want your new website to accomplish?” Does the site need to:
Present information in a new way about your products or services?
Generate inbound leads?
Enable customers to access/send account data or support information?
Knowing what functions the site needs to have informs the technical requirements and impacts the way the site should be designed.
The other question I ask is, “What’s not working with your current site?” The answer tells me what the client likes and dislikes and helps me understand what a successful website will look like for them.
Lastly, I ask, “What other websites do you like and why?” This gives me a sense of what style, image type, colors or even layouts they respond to.
Walk through GA Creative’s design process. What steps do you take and how involved should clients expect to be? Clients are very involved in each step of the process. It’s important for us to get as much information as possible before we start designing. We start with a creative brief. To inform the brief, the client can fill out a questionnaire, or we can interview all the key stakeholders and compile the findings. This document serves as the designer’s guidepost for developing creative concepts. Every design decision, including fonts, color choices and style, maps to the direction provided in the creative brief.
How do you incorporate current design trends in your work? While it’s important to stay abreast of current trends, incorporating trends into your work is a way to guarantee it will become dated sooner rather than later. Trends by their very nature are fleeting and they often won’t reflect your client’s brand values. Trends also are what everyone else is doing, so if the point is to stand out, I would avoid what’s trending. It’s more about following best practices.
How do you make sure that the developers understand your designs and implement them correctly? Good communication is always key. Before we present anything to a client, we share our design ideas with the developer to make sure we’re not proposing something that is impossible or very expensive to create. Later when we’re finalizing the design, we meet again with the developer and walk them through the site and go over all the various details. We also create a detailed document called a red line that tells the developer everything they need to know: all the measurements, fonts, colors and images so they can refer to it when they are building the site.
Talk about one of your web design projects and what made it successful? We recently designed a website with the purpose of generating sales leads using content marketing—and it needed to be live in 4 months. In order to meet the aggressive deadline, we designed and built sections of the site on a rolling basis in sprints. In order for this to work—building pages before all pages had been designed—the design not only had to satisfy the creative brief, but also needed to be simple and flexible enough to allow for just about any type of content and functionality required.
The design we used broke the content into individual sections on the page. Each section could be added to or removed from the page without affecting the overall design. It was immensely freeing to be able to move content around easily and allowed for quick design of the pages.
This process also required weekly meetings with the client and developer, which eliminated miscommunications along the way and resulted in a smooth build. The finished result was a fantastic new site that met the client’s needs and aggressive deadline.