Web design continues to change.  Processes from designer to designer are different and continue to become more varied.  So how do you know what the best approach is for designing your next company website? Well here are some tips, strategies, best practices, lessons learned along the way and some tools I like as well.

How to View a Web Design Project – Perspective

I love the old saying that sometimes it’s tough to see the forest through the trees. That statement is true when it comes to web design. Here are some tips that will help you shape your perspective as it pertains to web.

  • Make sure everyone understands the big picture: Most web design project happen because there is a business objective that needs to be achieved as an outcome of the project. I’ve been involved with many projects where the business objectives are never clearly communicated and re-iterated to the project team.  Create a project charter that outlines at least three measurable outcomes that will be produced by the project and make sure you measure against it post project.
  • It’s not all about design: Web design includes content strategy, photography, art direction, copy writing, marketing strategy, market research and user experience.  There is typically at least 4 people involved in a good web design project to deliver against these skill needs.  Getting the right people in the room to work together is critical.
  • (Personal Opinion): Wire framing is not a good practice for client facing design: It can be great for internal direction, production and planning, but having an expectation that a client can visualize what a wire frame would look like with real copy and a final design is just un-realistic. One of the number one things I use to hear when I presented wireframes was “I’m not sure what it will look like when’s it’s designed” or “I can’t sign off on a content strategy without seeing the designs”.  I recommend using placeholder imagery that is at least relevant to the brand with placeholder content that is not Lorem Ipsem content. Even if you take a bad shot at writing the copy yourself, for the purpose of presenting designs to a client, the less left to the imagination the better the result.  Frame up the expectations of the client, but start the collaboration process with some real direction.
  • Good photography: Your agency should have a photographer on staff and be willing to provide some photography as part of the project without you having to pay additional.  I want our portfolio to look good, trust me, I’m willing to eat $500 of internal cost for a quick shoot of a product, people or office to help get the job done.
  • Use prototyping: Looking at static designs in Photoshop is just not realistic. The rule of thumb we see is “the more interactive the design presentation is the less changes are requested”.  I love designing until our clients are happy, but limiting waste in the design process leads to more time invested into marketing and other services.

 

Great Tools

One of my go to’s is technology and tools. I am a tool nerd self admittedly. We love spending money on software as an agency to make projects run more smooth.  Here are some of our favorite design tools.

  • Invision App: This is a great prototyping tool that allows you to create clickable design prototypes, mood boards and manage the creative feedback process with clients.
  • Adobe Creative Cloud: This one is a no brainer, but even if you’re not a designer, having some basic Photoshop skills to edit copy helps in a bind.
  • Flowdock: Flowdock is our chat collaboration tool of choice. I like to describe Flowdock as Google Hangouts meets Dropbox.
  • Unsplash: Shhhhhhh…..  Don’t tell anyone that I just shared one of our favorite gems of a stock photography site.
  • JIRA: Jira is used to capture bugs and defects in the development process of a site. Nothing ruins a project more than a bad development of a great design.
  • Browserstack: Provides a cross browser, operating system and device testing software to ensure designs are executed properly

 

If you’d like to chat with us about a design project you have, just fill out the form on the right of this page.

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