Choosing a new look for the Council’s website is a challenging process with many things to take into consideration. Things such as:
- ease of navigation and access to relevant parts of the site
- accessibility (how readable it is for people with disabilities)
- how well it will work on a wide range of devices, from PCs to tablets to smartphones
- visual appeal
- compliance with various standards
- download speed
- and so on
Our first design ideas
The process started with an understanding of what we wanted to achieve through the design. Then we produced layouts using graphics software to create mock-ups of how the finished site will look, including examples of the home page, content pages and how it might look on mobile devices. To begin with, our web team created six completely different layouts, considering how they would look on different devices. Some of these initial designs are shown below. Click on any of the twelve images to see for a larger view.
The design idea we are now working with
Through a process of consultation and elimination and of tweaking the original design ideas, we finally arrived at the design that we thought best serves the purpose of the website. This is how the homepage looks in our new design:
Turning the design into web pages
Once we had decided on how the site will look, the next step was to take the chosen design and convert it into web pages. This involved taking that overall design and separating it into its various elements: graphics, text areas, links, menus, embedded social media feeds, banners, footers, and so on. And bit by bit, we are now able to construct the web pages so that they look exactly as they did in the initial layout.
We had already decided on the software that we are going to use to deliver the web pages to the outside world. This software is referred to as a content management system (CMS), and will be easy to use for our website editors, who don’t have any specialist knowledge of web design. The new CMS will allow our editors, from many areas of the Council, to make changes to the website’s content ensuring that information is always up to date.
So the next step in the design of the new website was to take the web pages we had created in the previous stage and to integrate them in the CMS. Then when our website editors create new pages, or make changes to existing pages, those changes are immediate and keep the same look and feel as all other pages in the website.
The next step – some test pages to show you
Soon, we will be able to show you the first public view of a few pages of our new website so you can have a look around it. Keep an eye on this blog, or Twitter or Facebook to find out when it is ready for you to try out.
By David Waite.