A comprehensive website design project will usually have many different moving parts. Sometimes the client will “know” exactly what they want, provide mock-ups and a full functional specifications document. This can be very helpful to the design and development team…or it can be troublesome because the client might micro-manage the project so much that it is pushed out of scope. On the other hand, many clients have a general idea of their vision but seek the expertise of the designer in how to properly implement it. The best case scenario usually falls somewhere in the middle and the designer is given creative license to excercise their skills.
Any well-rounded Internet marketing company will approach a website development project in specific steps in order to develop a full FSD that the client and the firm have agreed upon. A good design team will create a website that is good to look at, functional, fast, and SEO friendly.
Website Design: Website design is like an art project for the designer. They will go through sketches, mock-ups, use various different color pallets, try different calls to action, font, CSS formatting, and layout schemes before deciding on the final version and presenting it to the client. Even then, the designer will have to respond to what the client wants. It can be frustrating because the designer wants to produce a site that compliments their portfolio AND that the client loves. Clients may not always have a good design eye which can take projects off in another direction, but good tactful communication and education from the designer can keep things moving.
A website with an amazing design and beautiful animation has to also be functional, fairly fast, and perform for the basic applications that will result in some kind of conversion. A great website that no one sees is like having a Ferrari and keeping it in the garage. Therefore, the site must have a solid optimization platform so that it can rank in the search engines.
Functionality: One of the important aspects to keep in mind when optimizing a site for the search engines is that it must be functional, quick, and provide a valuable user experience. If the site speed is slow, too much Flash animation is used, and the general site structure is disorganized, then the search engines can not properly “crawl” the site…and will therefore not provide decent rankings. Solid site structure and proper functionality give the site a foundation from which to build an organic search engine optimization campaign. Without the framework, the site will only suffer in the long run. That is why there is almost always some website development work that needs to be done before a website can be properly optimized for search results.
Optimization: Once the foundation and structure are in place and the site has a nice balance between “look” and “function”, the optimization can begin. When referring to optimization you can look at it in a couple ways. There is the optimization for the search engines required to natually build first page search results for desired key words; and then there optimization (in more of a design/development aspect) that is done to the layout and functionality of the website pages to foster conversions. There is no point in building great traffic coming in to the site if the users do not become a customer or turn into some kind of conversion for the company.
For example, a company might be spending $20,000 per month in PPC but sending all the traffic to a landing page that has a Flash intro that takes 30 seconds to load. This will usually result in VERY high bounce rates which means the company is bascially wasting all that money. That is why website design must encompass all aspects of Internet marketing to ultimately achieve the desired goals.