Anatomy of a Website Design Project

One of the most common questions we hear from new clients is, ‘how will the web design process work?’  Read on for an overview of the phases of a typical web design project.

Discovery & Requirements

This is the ‘get to know you’ phase, and it begins the moment we first speak with you about your organization. We ask you about the purpose of the website and how it factors into your business goals. We also ask about what you will need functionally in order to reach these goals. We offer suggestions and best practices along the way to help you work within budget and time constraints.

Functional requirements dictate to a large degree which technologies we use to build the site. Depending on your needs we may recommend a simpler minimum viable product (MVP) version of your big vision so you can get launched early. and start collecting feedback.

During the discovery phase, we explore any existing materials developed for your organization to learn about the tone and branding, as well as any information regarding the target marketing, competition and industry setting.

Information Architecture & User Experience

Once we’ve agreed to the functional requirements,  we go deeper into planning the web experience by defining the sitemap, navigation, wireframe layout. To build a stable and beautiful house, we must first draw the floorplans.

How should it look and how do users travel through the site?  The navigation, the content, the context, and how these elements interact with each other are all part of the website architecture and user experience.

Visual Design

With wireframes or a prototype in hand we are ready to start the visual design of the website. The end result of this phase is a set of design mockups for key pages to convey the proposed look and feel for the site.


Moving into development, we gather all digital assets, including the graphics as PSD files, plus content for the site.  We slice and dice the graphics and optimize them for use on the web – what we call front-end development (also referred to as ‘coding’, ‘markup’ or HTML/CSS).  Next, we address any backend development, which refers to database driven applications and other more complex functions.

We most often apply our code within an existing framework, or Content Management System (CMS). A CMS is a system that enables non-tech savvy admins to manage web content on a day-to-day basis.  WordPress and Shopify are two popular CMSs.

Testing & Training

The end result of all of our development work is a fully functioning test site. You are able to review and test prior to approval for launch. We invite administrative users to the website’s dashboard to learn how to perform content updates on the site.   A good site is one that empowers a business.


Once the test site is approved,  we configure your hosting based on predicted traffic and usage, then set the Domain Name Servers (DNS) to point your url to your brand new site.  With that, the site is launched and monitored closely for any hiccups.


A website design project doesn’t end after launch. The launch is the end of the initial development, but the beginning of an important feedback period. Real users will provide valuable feedback on the site and whether it meets their needs. The trick is to listen and be prepared to make subtle or sometimes large tweaks to the site. Provide opportunities for feedback, and watch your analytics for clues.


All websites require maintenance, since technologies change and improve over time, causing compatibility issues that are best resolved on an ongoing basis. Sites that don’t keep pace with technology best practices can frustrate users or worse, break completely. Plan a monthly run through of the major site functionality, watch for update messages within your dashboard, and plan to make a more detailed review of how well the site is performing every 6 months.

This overview should help you understand what to expect during a typical website design project. Still have questions? Give us a call at 604-200-0100 or send us an email at [email protected]! We’d love to learn about your project.

story written by Elizabeth MacDonald