So, you’re a shit hot, totally awesome creative entrepreneur and you’re absolutely smashing it in your small biz. You’re full of passion, positivity, drive and are so proud of how far you’ve come. Yet, you look at your DIY job of a website and your branding is inconsistent, it doesn’t showcase your vision or personality, and it just doesn’t quite reflect the absolute epic AWESOMENESS that is your business. You’re ready to invest in your biz and wanna take it to the next level. YASSSSS!!
You turn to good old Google and start researching agencies and designers so you can get on and book in for a redesign. But, wait! Suddenly you’re met with a sea of blog posts, articles, and websites, all with different information. Do you need a developer? Designer? Both? Say WHAT it’s gonna set me back £10k plus and take 6 months????!!!! Holy shit-balls. What if I want a brand redesign as well, how does that work? Will I be expected to be a tech whizz and be able to maintain my website? Or will it set me back another arm and a leg to pay for a developer to maintain the new site going forward? Do I need to write my own copy, where do I even start with that? GAH, HELP!!
Hold up, calm yourself. I’m here to solve your website and branding woes! Planning a new website and brand design project is overwhelming, stressful and darn right scary. Believe me, I’ve been there. I know!
Whilst I can’t speak for every designer out there, I can certainly take you step by step through my exact design process. Trust me, if you bear with me (grrrrr) I’ll take away that overwhelm and put your mind at ease.
*Spoiler alert – no, you don’t need to be a tech whizz, you’re not going to need to write all the copy by yourself and no, it’s not going to cost you £10k plus, or an arm and a leg for that matter.
So, let’s dive on in!
My Complete Brand & Web Design Process Step By Step:
1 | Free consultation
The process all begins when you make an initial enquiry on my website. This is usually through my contact form and online scheduler – here you can choose a time slot and a date that works for you. Once you’ve booked your slot, I will receive an email notifying me of the new booking and will add it to my calendar.
On the actual consultation chat, you’ll get an opportunity to ask any questions that you might have about the process, working with me and what’s involved, how long it might take, or anything else that’s on your mind. I can also ask you some questions about your business, your vision and what you really want to get out of the project. This call gives us both the opportunity to really get a feel for if we’re a good fit for each other. Don’t worry, I won’t put you on the spot or ask you to make any decisions on the actual call. You can go off to digest the information and decide whether you’d like to book a slot or not.
2 | Secure your design slot
Once you’ve confirmed that you’d like to book in with me, we’ll discuss a date that works for us both. Then, I’ll send you over your contract and invoice for your initial 20% deposit.
Because The Payment Procedure is:
1. 20% Advance payment of the total amount.
2. After 60% work done you need to pay 50% of the total amount.
2. After finished the whole project you pay the last payment.
Once I’ve received your payment, this will secure your spot. It’s official, yay!
I always recommend my clients booking at least 4-6 weeks in advance. This gives you plenty of time to gather content and prepare for the project.
At this stage, I’ll also set up a google drive for you. This is where all important documents (like your contract, invoices + feedback forms) will be saved in one, easily accessible place. Our main point of communication will be through Live chatting platform WhatsApp or Skype and emails also and video calls throughout the project.
3 | Brand & website questionnaire
Before you start with the process of website designing, you need to ask yourself these questions-
- What is your website?
- What is your target audience?
- What are the major objectives you want to accomplish with your website?
- What services do you want to offer to your customers?
- What are the benefits of your existing website, if any?
- How are your competitors performing?
Before your project start date, I’ll need you to complete some homework first. You’ll receive two questionnaires and a website content guide, all of which are designed to guide you step-by-step through compiling content to getting really clear on your brand vision, your site goals and who your dream client really is.
The first step in this discovery phase is for you to fill out a brand and website questionnaire. We’ll be getting right into the nitty-gritty here and determining your who, what and why. It always surprises me how challenging it can be as an entrepreneur to get clarity around your brand vision and business goals. At the end of the day, us entrepreneurs are busy. Real busy. Too busy wearing all the hats and doing all the things trying to get through the day to day tasks that keep our business ticking along. I think it’s all too easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and the reasons we started our business in the first place; which at the end of the day is what this is all about really. It’s really important to stay in tune with your why, and what drives you to keep going and stay passionate about your business. I’ll also ask questions designed to help me establish your brand personality, preferred aesthetic and colour palette.
This foundational prep work is so crucial to building a truly unique brand identity and website that connects deeply with your dream clients and sets your business up for true transformation and success in the future.
In your brand questionnaire, you’ll also be asked to create a Pinterest board where you’ll pin everything that inspires you and resonates with your brand vision. You can use your brand questionnaire as a guide to make sure you stay on track (as we all know how easy it is to go off-piste and down deep into the depths of a Pinterest rabbit hole!)
The goal here is to establish a visual guide for your brand voice and personality. So we’re not just looking for website examples or logos here – think colours, patterns, textures, lifestyle shots, logos, fonts, quotes and general vibe, mood and aesthetics. Don’t hold back here, the more pins the better! The more images you include, the easier it will be for me to find common themes that you love which will, in turn, give me the best starting point when moving into the design phase.
4 | Dream client questionnaire
Now it’s time to move on to the dream client questionnaire, which involves a series of questions designed to really dig deep and define exactly who your dream client really is. We’ll be getting really specific here and I’ll encourage you to focus on just one person and think about what their biggest pain points, needs and desires are, and exactly why they would want to work with you.
This part of the process is absolutely crucial as at the end of the day, if you’re speaking to everyone you’re speaking to no one. This foundational work will really help to hone in on your message and enable you to connect with your dream clients on a really personal level, which will make you in turn, unique.
Fancy a taster of my project prep work?
The Brand Discovery Workbook combines parts of the process I go through with my clients to create beautiful, standout branding and websites. If you’d like a taster of the prep work – sign up to my newsletter and grab your free workbook now!
5 | Website content guide & compiling imagery
So you remember in the introduction where I reassured you that you wouldn’t be expected to come up with the content for your new site all on your own? Well, this is where the website content guide comes in. Here you’ll find a complete guide to mapping out the content for each page of your site. You’ll be provided with strategic cues and prompts which are all designed to build the foundation blocks for clear, effective website copy that really engages with your dream client. There’s even instructions and guidelines for your website imagery too, along with links to a Google Drive folder for you to upload everything to.
Once you’ve filled out this workbook, you can rest assured that from here on in your new website copy will be taken care of for you by yours truly. 🙋
Psssst…I’ll also be researching behind the scenes and taking notes on our calls so I can infuse your personality and style into the copy too.
6 | Strategy kickoff call
On the first Monday of your project, we’ll have a one-hour strategy call where I’ll peel back more layers behind your business and goals, we’ll also go over any last-minute questions you may have. I’ll be busy taking notes in the background on your communication style and other details which will come in handy when I start to write your website copy and come up with your project gameplan.
7 | Research, brand strategy & moodboard
Congratulations, the challenging stuff is over, now you can sit back, relax and wait for exciting updates from me! I’ll dive into some extensive market research and review all of your questionnaires and conversations we’ve had so far. I’ll look for common themes both in your language, words and through your visuals on your moodboard and will start to summarise all of these key findings into a clear, easy to digest brand strategy document.
This document will serve as a way to bring you clarity around the following things:
YOUR VISION & VALUES
YOUR DREAM CLIENTS
KEY THEMES AND MESSAGING
I like to think of this document as your brand compass to keep you focussed and on track for all communication touch points within your business going forward.
Next up, the moodboard! I’ll take a peek at your Pinterest board and look for common themes that you love. Then, I’ll curate a selection of images to create your brand moodboard which will form the visual direction of your new brand and website, exciting stuff!
You may have noticed that a lot of work has been done so far without even starting on the design! There’s so much more that goes into brand and website design than meets the eye. I would go as far as saying the actual design elements (your logo, patterns, icons etc) are just the cherry on top for your brand identity. Surface level design will only bring about surface level customers. If you want to inspire, connect and set your business up for true transformation and growth – I strongly believe that all design decisions must come from a place of strategy, intention and a deep understanding of the client and their target audience.
8 | Designing the colour palette
Once the mood board is complete, this will then set the tone for the brand colour palette. I’ll experiment with a range of different colours, usually starting by selecting colours directly from the moodboard images and developing further from there. I’ll also look at the themes set out in your brand strategy to guide the colour palette creation process.
Once I’m happy with the final selection I’ll record a video walkthrough of the brand strategy, moodboard and colour palette which explains all of the meaning and intention behind the work so far. This will be shared with you via a feedback form for you to review and sign off.
9 | Logo design
Now it’s time for me to roll up my sleeves and get stuck into the logo design! It all starts with a good old fashioned pen and paper where I will sketch out a load of ideas and experiment with lots of different styles. I will then pick my favourite ideas and take them to the computer. If it’s a hand lettered style logo, I will scan the drawings in my computer and then I’ll refine and vectorise the sketch to form a digital version of the logo.
After years of designing many logos for many different clients I have refined my process and now adopt a ‘one concept method’. This involves me picking the strongest logo design which I feel will most effectively communicate your brand image. I’ll really hone in on this one idea and will refine until it has evolved into not just a finished logo, but also a fully fleshed out brand concept. I’ll create secondary logos, marks patterns and any other elements that I feel will help form your new brand image. I’ll then mock up the logos and elements onto various different items including business cards, stationery, and anything else I feel would help to bring this concept to life. This process will really help you to see how the concept could actually work across different formats in real life situations.
Phew, that was a lot of work! Now it’s time for me to put together your brand concept presentation, and send on to you for feedback. Like before with your brand strategy, I’ll include a video walkthrough talking you through the meaning behind the designs and how it all ties in with your goals and strategy.
10 | Develop the rest of the brand elements
Once we’re all happy with the brand design, I’ll move on to tweaking and refining all of the elements into final products. By this point, you’ll have a selection of fonts, primary logo, secondary logo, logo mark, along with any other custom elements such as patterns, textures and icons. I’ll bring all of these elements together into one beautifully designed one-page document (ya know, like those ones you see on Pinterest?!) called a brand style board. This document shows you how everything fits together in one easy to view document…plus, it just looks darn pretty!
I’ll also create an accompanying brand style guide which will offer you some further instruction around using your brand out in the real world! This document is designed to offer you total confidence in using all of your brand elements on your own in the future. It covers everything from colour and font usage, file formats, what file types to use when, and even a rundown of how your final files will be organised when I hand them over to you. This document will serve as your visual brand bible – this document + the brand strategy guide = unstoppable super-force for the success of your brand and business! YASSS!
11 | Website strategy & planning
Now it’s time for me to get to work on your website! I’ll start by mapping out the structure of your new site using all of the prep work that we worked on at the beginning stages of the project. I’ll establish a clear, simple site roadmap and ensure a seamless user journey too. No stone will be left unturned here – I’ll cover everything even the copy on the buttons on your site (also known as call to actions).
I’ll send you over a website direction document for you to review, which highlights your website goals, vision and the proposed structure of your menu and pages (aka – your sitemap). Once you’re happy with the website direction, I’ll dive into the copy and website build! Whoop!
12 | Write the website copy
Most website designers won’t offer copywriting as a part of their service but if you book in with me, you won’t have that problem! Using the website content guide I will start to draft out the copy for each page of the site. This is where all of the foundational strategy from your business and site goals to your questionnaires really starts to shape the key messaging across the site. I’ll write up all of the copy for each page in a Google doc and will go back to it, tweak and refine until I’m 120% happy with it. 😊I like to hold off on showing my clients the copy until it’s on the site. Then, I’ll send over a link to the first draft of the website so you can see everything together.
13 | Build out and design the website
Now, this is the part where I lock myself in a room just me and my laptop and get to work!! I’ll start building out each page of the site along with the header and footer menus. I always use my own Squarespace account to create my clients websites. I do this for various reasons. To start, I like to have all of my clients sites in one place under my own login as this makes things much easier for me rather than having to log into each of my clients individual sites. For the interests of my clients security, I would also rather not have access to all of their account passwords, just to protect my clients privacy and maintain trust. For my clients that already have Squarespace websites, this also allows for me to experiment and design the whole site whilst allowing for their current site to stay up and running in the meantime.
I will now start to design custom graphics, images and other elements for the site, and will also go in and edit all of the style settings which includes fonts, colours, button styles and site padding. This will allow for the site to start having a really custom, unique feel that reflects your brand image and personality. Then, I’ll bring in all of the images, graphics and copy to all pages of the site. If there are any integrations that need including such as an online booking system or online class scheduler, I’ll get these all set up as well.
14 | Client approval
Once the site build is complete, I’ll share a recorded video walkthrough of your site explaining all of the details and meaning behind the design and how it all ties in and supports your business vision and goals. Unlike many other designers, my process doesn’t have a limit on refinements. Instead, I have a dedicated feedback period also known as the ‘refinements phase’ of the project. (I should also mention, you’ll get two rounds of refinements during the branding phase of the project too).
I’ll provide you with a feedback form that includes a video walkthrough and screenshots of your new site along with feedback prompts to ensure the process is as straightforward and streamlined as possible. I always encourage you to be honest, specific and really explain WHY things do and don’t work. And most importantly of all, to always keep your target audience top of mind for every single decision made throughout the process.
To keep the project moving forward and stick to our timeline, it’s really important that you’re free over the whole period to provide constructive feedback in the most streamlined way possible. If there’s anything you’d like to discuss, there’s an online scheduler available where you can book in for a call during the project period. Sometimes it can be much easier to describe certain changes on a quick screen share video, so you can walk me through exactly what changes need to be made. I’ll also provide you with a feedback form complete with prompts encouraging you to give detailed and constructive feedback that always keeps your dream clients and your business goals in mind.
15 | Pre-launch prep
Once all refinements have been made and you’re happy with the site, I will optimise and test out your site on different devices including mobile and tablet to make sure it looks beautiful and functions seamlessly across all different screen sizes. I’ll also ensure the whole site is set up to be SEO optimised and will perform a full pre-launch site audit before handing over the final site to you.
16 | Handoff and video trainings
Next up, I’ll record a series of bite-sized video trainings showing you exactly how to use, update and maintain your new shiny brand and website. Here’s where you’ll see just how easy it is to go in and make simple changes such as editing text, updating images, adding a new blog post or creating a new shop product. Trust me when I say you don’t need to be a tech wizard to maintain your WordPress website! Don’t worry there’s no need for you to take notes here as all of your video trainings will be added to a secret page on your website which you can refer back to whenever you need it.
I love this part of the process and giving my clients all the tools they need to feel totally confident and empowered in maintaining their brand and website going forward. There’s no need to hire me or a developer to make any small tweaks for you, you’ll have control in making any updates to text, blog posts or images. Of course, if you need any major work, features or additional pages – I’ll always be here to support you in the future.
At the end of the project, I’ll also ask you to make the final payment if you haven’t done so already. Once the payment has been made, I’ll hand over the final files, set up your new WordPress account and transfer ownership of the site over to you.
I love maintaining long-term relationships with my clients and following along with their journey – I truly do care and love nothing more than seeing them blossom and succeed in their business.
Whoop, we’ve done it! Now all the hard work is complete; it’s time to finally launch your new shiny site to the world! Yay!
Phew! And there you have it. A detailed look into my exact design process. Thanks for sticking with me, I really wanted to emphasise the amount of work that goes into each of my client projects, but also highlight how supported and guided you’ll be every step of the way. Once the prep work is done, you can sit back, relax and look forward to regular updates from me throughout the process!
Designing a new website and brand is no easy feat, but let me say all the hard work will be totally worth it. Having a professional website and brand image can be truly transformational to any business owner.
If you have any questions at all then please, don’t hesitate to get in touch.