I'm working on a new website for my freelance UX design company. One feature that has done very well with usability testers so far is a new section of the site explaining my design process. Testers mentioned that this really sets my company apart from other design companies they have seen and it helps ease their concern that I have had fewer client projects than most other designers.
My process, which is based on projects I've done for multiple clients in the past year and a half, goes like this:
- Understand users
- Evaluate usability/design of existing site (heuristic evaluation)
- Initial user test
- Open and closed card sorting
- Brainstorm and sketch
- Select a theme (text: "We select a theme that will let the site look great on any device. We look for themes that allow extensive customization so that the site looks like yours, not someone else's.")
- Prototype and customize the theme (iterate on 5-8 as necessary)
- Prepare for launch: "We work with developers to help our vision for your site become a reality and perform as well as it can. Bringing our previous development experience, we understand what can and can't be built well."
- Go live
With average users doing the rest of the tests on my company's new site, I had one more senior UX designer test it. (This was on purpose. Since I've never been part of a larger UX team, I was looking for a design review.) His feedback was very helpful. Two of his questions really got me thinking about my process:
- Why step 6 (select a theme)? It sounds like you're just going to ThemeForest, which won't necessarily give me the best possible result. (He's right about going to ThemeForest, though I've customized themes so extensively that the original theme is hardly recognizable.)
- Why would you create wireframes if you're using a theme?
For my clients, customizing themes has worked well so far. But in my industry, clients' sizes, budgets, and customization needs vary quite widely. Some need a team of developers or, at least, one developer doing full-stack development work. Doing full-stack dev work myself isn't an option for me and doesn't seem cost-effective.
Currently, I don't have the budget to hire a developer. Potential future projects, including some longer-term ones with bigger teams that are probably another 1-2 years out, may give me the chance to hire contractors. But without any projects on the horizon that look like they will definitely need this, I can't say yet how the development step will definitely be handled.
If you were in this situation and writing about each step of your process on your company's website, how would you address the development step?
Edit - On some of the theme customization projects, I worked with the client's in-house webmaster / back-end developer.