Process is one of the most important things that a designer can have next to templates and one-click widgets that speed up the mock-up stage. Having a strong process allows a designer to focus on what is truely important, the graphics (well one of the most important things anyway).
Throughout my study years at the University of Waterloo I was a strong advocate of information organization and this spanned everything from lecture notes to proper indetation of development code. Needless to say, in the past 8+ years, I had the unfortunate experience of dealing with some developers who didn’t care for proper code maintenence and organization. Of course everyone has their own style of coding, but it should at least be legible if someone were to scan it looking for a specific piece of code!
When information is organized, everything else that stems from it, including graphic design will be organized as well. For the best design, take note of the following topics that are normally skipped or missed in most web designs but have a HUGE impact on overall results:
1. Have an IA Document
Don’t have one? Make one. Even taking 10 minutes to draw a tree map of how your site will flow from page to page will help you figure out where to put graphic elements. It will also help you determine what certain elements should look like. For example, does this text need to look clickable? Draggable? Navigation-like? Advertisment-like? Invisible? (just kidding on that last one, invisible text wouldn’t make sense to do….or would it?)
2. Wireframe Your IA
Don’t try to be a superstar or “get it done quick designer”. Quality is important and if you didn’t think your wireframe through properly you’ll find yourself wasting time shifting your grahics around your canvas trying to find the perfect spot for it to sit that makes sense visually and operationally.
3. Agree on nomenclature with your client
This probably sounds like the last thing that would be on your mind when designing a site, however it’s surprising how many different names a single graphic can have, especially if you’re dealing with an experienced client who has worked with many designers in the past. Whether it be a skyscraper, tall banner, wall banner, streamer…agree on a nomenclature so that you can avoid possible miscommuncations during the QA phase. The last thing you want to experience is making revisions & changes to the wrong page!
4. Explain the stages of design
Most of the time, if a client has never had a website before or built one before, they will need you to explain what you’ll be doing and why. Never ASS-U-ME that the client knows what you’re talking about. In reality they are paying for your skills and expect a level of education on what you do and how you do it. Would you want to run a business with someone you don’t understand?
I hope that this has been insightful for you and a helpful reminder of the little things that matter in design.