Every creator has a process. Building a website might feel like a big task to fulfill, but it can be a straightforward, creative and rewarding process. Setting up your digital storytelling platform with the 5 simple phases below will result in a cohesive and easily scalable web platform, and a reusable process for any future projects. Let's dive in.
The web creation process I use at feathermode to create custom, unique and performant websites and web apps is what I call the 5D Web Process. It is a streamlined process that breaks down how I think about and build web platforms for my clients. You can use this process to better understand how to think through your future website and have a pathway towards a live and growing web platform.
We first focus on scope, purpose, content, and background information of the project. Ask yourself what you plan to do with this website or web app. Have a fine tuned goal for the website. I often use the "SMART" acronym when establishing goals for the website or app. "SMART" stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Here is an example of a goal that is "SMART": I want to create a blogging website in one month that engages with 80% of my consulting clients who depend on me for career advice.
Use the Discover Phase to find out the following:
- the information and content you already have for the project
- the information and content you need to gather before the platform launches
- the audience you will target with the website or web app
Once you have an overview of the data, content and general information you will require for the project, it is time to start visualizing how this website or web app will take shape.
First, gain inspiration and insight on your preferences by pulling from websites and apps that already exist. You might like how a blog post is arranged from a website you visit frequently. You might be captivated by the home page of website you stumbled on and bookmarked a while ago. You can also use website and web design aggregators to gain insight on the different ways content comes together on the web.
After wetting your feet in the vast, digital sea, you can gather example content that you feel fits your voice and visual style. You can pull images from the web that have a specific look and feel to create a Mood Board or Style Tile with a collection of images, videos, copy, fonts and symbols that work well together. At feathermode, I guide you through this process with a professional eye and a plethora of inspirational resources to choose from.
Once you have a good idea about how content will mesh with each other on a page, it is time to create the structure of the website as a whole. Think about how pages flow from top to bottom, the various interactive elements and sections you will have across your website, as well as how pages may link to other pages on your site. If you partner with a studio or agency like feathermode, they will provide you with mockups and user experience (UX) models to aid in this decision making.
These general steps to web design provide a preliminary understanding of the topics you will want to look for and how to think about the architecture of your website. If you are building your website on your own, you will also want to learn more about the following:
- Color theory
- Font combinations
- Responsive/adaptive design
- Design systems
- Spacing and layout
- Interactivity and accessibility
- Design patterns
- Web design best practices
At feathermode, I handcraft websites to create finely tuned platforms. I code everything from scratch and use external integrations to connect your web platform with other web services such as payment vendors and email automation providers. You may use a website builder to accomplish this or you may hire a studio or agency like feathermode to handle this for you. Regardless of your approach, the most important aspect of this Phase is to always keep the user experience (UX) as the deciding factor when it comes to making your designs a reality. How accessible is your site? How fast does your site load? Is your app available offline? Are your animations and interactions getting in the way of your users' ability to digest content? How are all of the elements on the page coming together? Are there parts of your website that are reusable? Think about the user when finalizing your design decisions in this Phase.
Get your website or web app up on the web! If you are using a website builder, the company will have a hosting plan that you will pay for so they can manage the space your website takes up on the web as well as the security and required updates. If you use a studio, they will create a hosting environment that fits your needs and scales elegantly as your website or web app audience grows. No matter the path you take, be sure to look for hosting environments and plans that have a large reach, have little to no downtime and are protected by multiple forms of encryption and security features.
Once your website or app is live, you have a digital space that is all your own. Like with anything you own, it requires maintenance, upgrades and ongoing attention. It will need to adapt and grow as your ecosystem changes. If you surf the internet long enough you will come across a website that looks like it was made in the 1990's. It looks out of place, is unreadable on a phone, has outdated content or has stopped working. You can choose to abandon your website as soon as you create it, but I include this phase as the last one, because it is the one phase that has no end. Keep creating. Keep nurturing your digital story.
Those are the 5D's of website creation. I find that it helps to simplify a process that has a lot of moving parts and can quickly become a mountain of tasks. I hope this process helps you craft focused, unique and poignant stories on the World Wide Web.