The ADDIE model for website design

ADDIE is a 5-step process for web design: analyse, design, develop, implement, and evaluate. Following this process will help to ensure that you cover all aspects of a successful site and make your site as effective as possible. This model originates in instructional systems design but also works well for web design projects.

Step 1: Analyse

Before you begin designing your website you need to have a basic understanding of the nature of the site. This will help you to create a more effective design and ensure that the site accomplishes its goals.

Questions include:

  • What is this site about?
  • What am I trying to accomplish? (goals, objectives)
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What information needs to be included?
  • What functionality needs to be included?
  • How should the site be structured?

Step 2: Design

In this stage you will take the information you have gathered in the analysis stage and begin to build your site.

Tasks include:

  • defining a look and feel
  • choosing an appropriate colour scheme
  • creating a page layout
  • refining the details
  • using appropriate typography
  • considering usability and accessibility

Step 3: Develop

In this stage you will finally put it all together and build a usable, attractive, and effective website.

Tasks include:

  • developing your layout with HTML and CSS
  • implementing web standards
  • write good quality content
  • working with content management systems
  • adding additional functionality with client- and server-side scripting

Step 4: Implement

Now that the site is developed, it's time to implement it! In this stage you will:

  • find hosting and put the site “live”
  • optimize the site for search engines
  • market the site on the web

Step 5: Evaluate

The final crucial step in this process is to evaluate the effectiveness of the site. Is it accomplishing its goals? Do users like the design? Is it easy to use?

Tasks in this stage include:

  • analysing website traffic
  • getting feedback from users
  • usability testing
  • other methods of site evaluation

Lather, rinse, repeat

So what do you do with this feedback you've gathered in the evaluation phase? Well, you go back and start again from one of the previous stages. Which stage you go back to depends on the results of your evaluation. For example:

  • if traffic is low, return to the implementation phase and re-assess your SEO and marketing efforts
  • if users have negative feedback on the design, return to the design phase
  • if your site is completely failing to meet its goals, you may even need to go back to the analysis phase and re-asses your goals and objectives or target audience.

You may have noticed that quite a lot of work is involved in the first 2 stages of the process. It would be possible to spend quite a lot of time in the analysis and design phases before writing any HTML or getting feedback on the site from users. On a simple level this is a straightforward, 5-step process. In reality, you will probably loop through the steps many times.


ADDIE is a useful process for designing useful, effective, and popular websites. The Beginning Web Design series will take you through this process in more detail.


addie-diagrams.png39.93 KB
Megan McDermott's picture

About the Author

Megan is co-founder and editor of A Padded Cell and administrator at The Webmaster Forums. She has been designing websites since 1997, with expertise in design, information architecture, usability, HTML/CSS, Drupal theming, and more. Megan is also a partner and co-founder of Woolwich Web Works: A small team that can do big things!