Designing for the web – the design process Part 1

In News, Web Design by kat18f0 Comments

Designing for the web can be a tricky process. Follow some of these helpful tips through these series of posts on how to address your next web design project and it should go smooth sailing.

Part 1 – The initial design meeting

Do your research

Before you sit down with the client, make sure you know a bit about them, who are they, who is their market, who are their competitors, what kind of web presence seems to be the ‘norm’ for their industry… but most importantly if they have an existing website, review it and take notes on what you think needs improving and take note of their current site map. All this information will give you some background knowledge of the client you need to represent online.

Ask a lot of questions

During the initial design meeting you should ask a series of questions which will give you a clearer understanding of what they want their website to do, what they will be using it for and what they like. Depending on the client’s business you will be determined by what style of design they like, if they like big slideshows, or need more text and directions, or it’s a store that needs to promote products or have the need to use advertising spaces on their site… Knowing the functionality of the site will determine what you will need to cater for in your design process.

Collect, Record, Confirm

Collect all the vital information. Especially business details including their business name, ABN (if in Australia), desired domain name (if required), phone numbers, address and contact form information. During this meeting it is great to get a draft site map drawn up so you will know how much needs to be in the site navigation. This can determine weather you have a top navigation bar or just a side navigation… or both. Utility links, footer links etc etc. Also find out what are the most important areas of the website the client considers the most important. This will determine call to action placements and entry points you might need to include on a homepage design.

Draw Wireframe Sketches

As you are sitting with your client, sketch up some wireframes of how you see their homepage flowing, explaining what each area will be and where it can possibly go. Remember these are sketches, not final masterpieces, they just visualise what you are thinking and allow you to communicate with the client your thoughts. Some people can’t visualise without seeing it.

KISS

Don’t get lost in the technical lingo of web design. CSS, HTML, Javascript, all this just sounds like a foreign language to those who  don’t talk web everyday. Clients might not understand the difference between a div or tables or that margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto; will centre an item in a div… they just want it to work without knowing the ins and outs of the process. Subsequent meetings are more the place for this kind of talk. especially if the client will be controlling the content them self by using a CMS.

It’s not goodbye, but till next time

Before you finish up your initial design briefing with your client you need to agree on a few processes. Ensure to include the client the entire way. No one wants to feel left out, especially the client. What will the client need to do? What will you be providing them? When is a soft  launch expected?

Personally getting the client to agree to a site map helps not just yourself in the design, but helps the client to envision what content they need to create and supply to you for the final website. It is also good to supply to the client post meeting a proper sitemap and wireframe sketch so everyone agrees to what the basics are on the site before the work begins.

Also get from the client important key collateral pieces, such as logo, style guides, key images and/or colour schemes.  These will be key in producing the intial mockups going forward from this meeting.

Next up… the mockup process.

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