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Katie O'Brien Web Designer for Coaches_My Step by Step Branding + Web Design Process_Polished Professional Web Design Coaches Consultants Speakers

My Step by Step Branding + Web Design Process

The strategic branding and design journey I currently take each client has been refined, simplified and polished over and over again to become the beautiful systematic process it is today.

Today, you get a behind the scenes look at that entire process from start to finish. Let’s jump right in!


Phase 1: Brand Discovery

Every project starts with a kick-off call or what I like to call a Brand Discovery call. During this call, I dive deep into the who, what, why and how of my client’s brand. Together we work through and identify their business goals, ideal client, design style and more.

My process is different than the average designer here. It’s so important to me that I have a personal connection with each client, a deep understanding of their business and clarity for the project moving forward. All of which can’t be accomplished with your average design questionnaire.

After the call, to ensure we’re on the right path visually, I create a secret Pinterest board and begin gathering visual inspiration for their new brand. This includes logo styles, color palettes, typography styles and more. Once well established, I send it over for their review and collaboration.

Then we’d jump on a design inspiration check-in call to discuss.


Phase 2: Logo Design + Brand Visuals

This next phase is where the visual identity design begins with new logotype concepts, color palettes, typography choices and more.

Phase 2 actually starts with me heading back into Phase 1. I review my call notes, clean them up where needed, review the Pinterest board and then start sketching logo ideas, jotting down key descriptors and any other ideas that come to me during the creative process.

Once I brain-dump my initial ideas and sketch some ideas down, I start to narrow them down. When I feel ready I flip the page in my notebook and re-sketch my favorites concepts thus far. Then once I feel pretty confident with the visual direction, I open up Adobe Illustrator.

In Adobe Illustrator, I start with my favorite concept and begin designing it on the computer. This process usually invites more inspiration and tweaks and changes. Once I’m happy with my first logo concept, I jump back into my notebook and find my next two favorites ending up with 3 initial concepts for the client to review when I send them off.

Once the logo concepts are buttoned up, I start looking for and reviewing colors that not only inspire me but accurately represent my client’s brand and business.

I typically already have a hunch on the color scheme I want to go with before I see it, but like to jump into the sea of colors before making any decisions. I tend to go with 2-3 initial color palette concepts for my clients to choose from.

Last up (still in Phase 2) is typography.

Similar to color, I tend to already have a general idea of the typography style but still jump into the sea of fonts before making any decisions. I tend to browse Google’s Font Library, Adobe’s Font Cloud and, of course, Creative Market to find a font I feel is on-brand.

Once I’ve nailed down the initial logo concepts, proposed color palettes and proposed typography options, I button everything up and place them in a neatly organized PDF for the client to review.

Before sending them off to the client, I record a detailed video discussing my design choices and the strategy behind each choice.

From here, the client will schedule a check-in call, submit their feedback and the refinements begin.

Once approved, the finalized logo files and brand board is shared with the client. At the end of Phase 2, the client can now begin sharing sneak peeks of their new brand visuals.

Below is an example of my recently updated brand board. You can find client brand boards (+ other design goodies) here.


Phase 3: Content Curation

Phase 3 is when all content, both copy and images, is due.

It’s so important to write your website copy before beginning the design process to ensure your website fully supports your message.

With that said, gathering content, headshots, branded photography, stock images have been proven to be one of the most overwhelming steps for my clients. Even if they’re outsourcing the copy, it still needs their attention, review and final approval.

To ease the overwhelm and stress of gathering these elements, I kickstart this phase with a quick check-in call.

During this call, we’ll strategically outline the pages of the site, identify their unique calls-to-action and make sure we’re still in alignment with the overall project and website goal for their business. If needed, I also provide additional strategy and clarity when it comes to their content curation process.

After the call, they receive a simplified site outline so they can see exactly which pages will be going where, their primary objectives and get a big-picture idea of the flow of the site.

Below you’ll see the site outline PDF for my own website:

Phase 3 ends with the client turning in all of the required copy and images for their website pages. Once received, I dive into Phase 4 the website design + development.


Phase 4: Website Design and Development

Phase 4 is where it gets super exciting. This may even be my favorite phase… aside from the launch.

In Phase 4, all the pieces come together effortlessly to create a custom website design tailor just to the client.

But before diving into designing and developing each page… I begin with just the Home page.

An effective Home page with a great design is paramount to the success of a website. When the design is nailed for this page, the rest of the site seems to effortless fall in place.

Once the initial Home page concept has been designed, I send over a full screenshot mockup for the client to review. Just as I did with the other design concepts, before sending it off to the client, I record a detailed video discussing my design choices and the strategy behind each choice.

From here, the client will schedule a check-in call, submit their feedback and the refinements begin.

Click here to explore Home page designs from past clients in my Portfolio.

Once the Home page design is approved I dive into the remaining pages listed on the site outline. Always making sure they’re strategically supporting the overall goal of the website while staying cohesive with Home page design.

Once the staging site has been built out, I send it out for review and then meet for a check-in call to go through it with the client with a fine-tooth comb.

Lastly, refinements would be completed and once is everything the client has ever dreamed of… we move to launch!


Phase 5: Launch Day! (+ follow-up support)

We made it!! Phase 5 is a time of celebration and sharing with the client’s launch!

After testing the staging site thoroughly I move it over to the live domain. Then I test it again… and again… and again.

Once launched, my clients receive a Launch Packet PDF with their new login credentials, a link to their custom training tutorial and all the information they need to feel comfortable and confident with their new site.

But it doesn’t end there!

After the site is live, my team syncs up the Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager and then sets up the fabulous Yoast SEO plugin to ensure their new website is as Google-friendly as possible.

Launch day also jumpstarts a 30-day support window where each client has access to me and my team for any additional questions or support. After the 30 days, they’ll then have the opportunity to remain fully supported with a flexible support bundle, if needed.

And that, my friend, is the full sha-bang. An intimate look of my brand + web design process from start to finish I take each new client through. 

Click here to the end-results of some of my favorite projects.


Two of the biggest questions I get after talking through this process with a potential client is:

1. How long does this take?

Each project falls within 8-12 weeks from the start date to launch, depending on the scope. Just as each client is unique, so are their needs when it comes to branding and web design. Prior to jumping in, their project scope is outlined in detail with a custom proposal.

2. And how much does it cost?

The investment for a polished and professional brand and website design also varies based on the project scope. With that said, my projects tend to range between $5,000-$8,000 with a 30% deposit due to reserve a spot on my design calendar. The next 30% payment is due at the end of Phase 2 and the remaining 40% is due right before launch.

Have a few more questions on my process? Pop them below!

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2 Comments

  1. Gina on October 15, 2019 at 8:23 AM

    What do you use to create your site outline? Handmade or tool? Thanks!

    • Katie O'Brien on October 15, 2019 at 8:33 AM

      Hi Gina! I just use Adobe Illustrator. I’ve created a basic template I tend to start with but then customize it based on the client’s site from there. I’ve tried a few different tools that were specifically for site outlines but they always felt clunky to me. I like the flexibility AI offers.



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