What if you could have a jaw-dropping website at the click of a button? When you hire a professional for WordPress web design, you can get some amazing results. But to really get the most out of the experience, you need to understand how the process works.
With our comprehensive guide, you’ll learn all about the WordPress design process. And along the way, you’ll learn the secrets to help make your website dazzle.
It’s easy to imagine the design process as something mystical. Someone meditates under a tree like Buddha until they achieve a real epiphany.
In reality, most great designs come from borrowing an idea. For both the client and the professional designer, it’s common to see a really cool WordPress site and think, “we should do our own version of that.”
Don’t worry: along the way, you’ll be tweaking and adding things to make your own site unique. But there is nothing wrong with having a clear design influence when you start out.
Build Around A Goal
Before you get too far into the process, it’s important to ask yourself: why, exactly, do you need a website?
Your goals should be clear and specific. Is this about generating more leads, boosting sales, or just building your brand? After you identify your goals, make sure you fully understand your core demographics and customer segments. This will determine things like your specific content, imagery, tone, functionality – the list goes on!
A good professional designer can create an awesome site based on your goals. But they’ll never be able to do that if you don’t have a clear idea as to what your goals are. Once you’ve established your goals, you will work with your designer to develop a scope of work. “Scope” is like a blueprint for your website. It’s where you and your designer specify all the goals and objectives of your website and how to meet them.
Master the Tools Of the Trade
Your WordPress designer is going to use a number of professional tools to bring your site to life. But for the best results, you should be familiar with these tools as well.
Why? Simple: the more you know about these tools, the better you can communicate your needs and desires. It’s tough to tell someone what you want from Photoshop if you’ve never used the software before!
In addition to learning the basics of WordPress and programs like Photoshop, you should learn to use cloud storage and file management systems like Dropbox and Google Drive. They can help you and your design team communicate and easily pass files back and forth without having to send an endless chain of emails.
Tighten Scope and Deadlines
At this point, it’s time to tighten a couple of things. Specifically, it’s time to tighten your website scope and also design deadlines.
A review and tightening of the scope are important because it will help you avoid “scope creep.” Scope creep is when you start off with a tight set of criteria and goals; however, as you build out your site, you begin to add more and more to it, trying to make it do a little bit of everything. Remember, your site can’t be all things to everyone. It’s much better to do a few things really well, rather than doing a lot of things just “okay”. You need a thorough understanding of your users and what they value. Then focus on those things and nothing else. If you try to have it all, you’ll end up with a gigantic site that is cumbersome and not very good at anything.
Tight deadlines can help you stay focused on those things that matter most and, of course, they keep your project on time. Its harder to get lost in “well, shouldn’t we consider adding this?….” when you have deadlines to meet. And to be clear, this is not to say that you shouldn’t think outside the box or consider making changes even after the project has started. It’s just that after you’ve established your goals and scope, stay focused and only allow for deviations from the “blueprint” for extraordinary developments.
Tweaking a Theme
Remember when we said it’s okay to borrow a good idea? In some ways, that design philosophy is built directly into WordPress.
While it’s possible to build a site entirely from scratch, most sites use one of the pre-made WordPress themes. From there, you can modify as much as you want without having to build the base functionality from the ground up.
Another reason this is a good idea is that professional designers are already familiar with what these themes can (and can’t) do. Furthermore, the existing themes have already been extensively tested by other users, so you know nothing will be broken coming out of the box.
Make It Easy to Navigate
The best sites are built around user needs. And the most basic user need is being able to navigate around your site.
This is why you and your design team should focus on a sitemap. This is your opportunity to make sure your site doesn’t have any annoying redundancies or unnecessary extra features.
To map this out, you may want to create a wireframe model of your site ideas. While you can do this with software, you can also map things out with paper and pencil. Visualizing your site in this way can help you make it easier to navigate.
Plugins Make Your Life Easier
Right now, you’re mostly focused on getting the site off the ground. But have you thought about how to make your life easier once the site is live?
WordPress Plugins can do a lot of the “heavy lifting” when it comes to designing and maintaining your site and even sharing it with others. For example, the Revive Old Posts plugin can automatically share your posts to social media, helping you publicize your content without you lifting a finger.
Advanced Custom Fields is a plugin that helps you further refine and customize the user interface for site visitors. And Smush Pro is a plugin that helps you optimize your imagery, which is great for enhancing your site’s mobile-friendliness and reducing the bounce rate. There are thousands of plugins to choose from – your WordPress web design expert will make sure you use the right ones.
During the design phase and certainly before you test and launch your site, there is one more thing you should do: make sure your site if Search Engine Optimized.
You’ve likely been focusing on SEO with the content that you create. But to really hit the first page of those search results, you need to properly optimize everything from website titles, to image alt tags.
And this is where a professional design team comes in. They can help make sure your site conforms to the best SEO practices while making sure your site looks stunning.
Remember, good SEO is an ongoing battle. An SEO tool that we love is Yoast. It’s simple to install and super easy to use. While you’re working with your website developer, ask them to give you a quick tutorial on Yoast. If you’d like to get into the SEO weeds with Yoast, check out their comprehensive WordPress SEO guide.
WordPress Web Design: Make It Happen
Now you know more about the WordPress web design process. But do you know the professional WordPress web designers who can help you craft the ultimate site?
We specialize in hosting, design, and management services for your WordPress website. To see how we can team up to create your dream site, drop us a line today!