The process of hiring a web designer can be a confusing one.
What exactly do we do anyway?
What is expected of you, the client?
What steps come first?
I want to take the time to demystify the process by giving you a peek into my recent project for Mike Beeds Music.
We recently launched the blog for electronic musician and DJ Mike Beeds. Mike came to me not wanting just another EDM or electronic music blog. He sees music heading in a different, indefinable direction and needed a stylish place to report on this and build his audience while simultaneously offering his DJ Services and selling his own music tracks.
It was a fantastic pairing from the start, as we are both of the entrepreneurial spirit and have a high taste level. We began by Mike filling out my Client Questionnaire, an in depth form of questions intended to get at the heart of who his target market is, how he can cater to them, and the goals he had for his project. I ask all my clients to create a Pinterest Mood Board to give to me as a deliverable along with the finished questionnaire before we get started.
I consider this phase to be the most crucial. It may look different for each project, but will consist of digging deeper and consulting with my clients to extract what makes them distinctive and how to translate that to their new digital presence. With Mike, we got to talk about the new music landscape, the concept for the image he wanted to project with his branding, and where he wanted his business to go in the future.
It didn’t hurt matters that I got many awesome tracks of his to listen to while I brainstormed:
The results from our sessions was a mix of organic, atmospheric elements. He wanted his blog to be a place where young music appreciators could come for a breath of fresh air among all the bright, loud music blogs out there. This would be a place they come on the weekends to discover a curated selection of music they wouldn’t hear about elsewhere. Mike’s mood board images included desaturated images of the beach, global locations and empty weathered spaces.
Below is the initial concept with his inspirational images, fonts, and color palette to get us started.
Mike Beeds Music needed a logo to help solidify his brand and stand out from the competition. Working with the idea of organic, global elements and a light font, we were able to collaborate and come up with a few different versions for different uses. It was so helpful to get feedback, tweak, feedback and tweak some more, although we are both perfectionists so had to stop at just the right point. I think we did quite well:
Armed with a concept, color scheme, fonts, and now our shiny new logo, I was ready to design the website. Traditionally, web designers would create a mock-up of the front page and maybe an interior page in a program like Photoshop or Fireworks. This is basically a flat image made to look like the website, and when the client approves it, the website would be built according to these specifications.
However, these days having a responsive website that looks beautiful and is functional across multiple devices like tablets and phones is essential. Going through the process of creating multiple mock-ups for each size is incredibly tedious.
My approach in this new age is one that is catching on in our industry. When you think about a website now, it’s not just a page on a computer screen, it’s essentially an assortment of components that are served in different formations depending on what type of device you are viewing it on. This will only get more complex as we are now talking about viewing the web on watches and glasses, to name only a couple. The answer is to design the “components” of a website for my clients and present them in what is called a Style Guide. This covers the most common components that will be on your website so you can approve the look and feel before development begins.
Below is the style guide that Mike signed off on before I began building his website in WordPress. I designed what the container would look like, a large background image, fonts and sidebar widgets among others.
Herein lies the meat of the project, my turn, the nitty-gritty, what have you. I develop a web presence out of seemingly nothing. As I’m creating the pages and look, I’m constantly thinking about the goals of Mike, but more of his audience and how they will best be served by each part of every page. Not only what will look the best, but when will they need information? How should they be guided through a process? What will prompt them to find out more about Mike and want his services? This is strategic thinking that is the real reason why you hire a web designer and developer. Yes, we want things to be pretty, but true design comes in knowing how to make a project effective and usable for your business to thrive.
In the end, thanks to Mike’s feedback, we decided to ditch the bright orange color as it wasn’t serving the mood we wanted. We also went with a different background image of palm trees that conveyed that beach-y organic feel he wanted. Collaboration once again came out ahead as I couldn’t have come to these decisions without my client’s input. The result is a fresh and modern blog to launch Mike Beeds Music into the industry in true, authentic style. He has custom forms for his service inquiries, a way to easily upload and sell his music files, and sign up forms for his newsletter, The Weekly Recap.
Hopefully this has helped demystify and open up the process of hiring me as a web designer for you. The art of collaboration is not lost on me, that’s why I love working with creative entrepreneurs with a distinctive vision for their business.
Do you need a new blog or website of your own and don’t know where to start? Take a look at what it’s like to work with me and fill out my Start a Project form at the bottom of the page to get started!