My Design Process

While the design process is unique to each designer, it is invaluable to producing good design. I first begin by thinking about what needs to be accomplished by the page in question – typically the homepage is where I start. Are users going to be guided to a specific page? What’s on that page? Can items be highlighted? I think the most important question is, “if I were a user, what would make me stay here? What would I want to see?” In thinking this way, I can begin to formulate a general layout.

Next on the list is inspiration. I visit dozens of websites to find layouts that inspire me and emulate what I think might work for this particular project. I evaluate each one, trying to pinpoint various items I think work or otherwise and why. I try to narrow down my “inspiration” sites to about 5 (I’ll have upwards of 30 to begin) in hopes of honing in on what kind of layout, look, and feel I’m looking to implement for my project.

I start to choose colors. Again, this reverts back to “what is being accomplished on this site?” Is it a medical site? I’ll probably go with some sort of blue, as that tends to be a soothing color. Law site? Red for a big firm to represent power. Blue for a small firm relying more on trustworthy and symbiotic relationships with clients. Of course, not all sites will end up using either of these colors, but generally, I start with colors I know work and adjust from there to meet the specific needs. You can read more about what various colors mean to us on an instinctual level here.

Once I have an idea of the color groups I’m hoping to use, I start by making a quick wire frame for myself. This can be either on a notepad I have lying around or just making quick boxes in Photoshop to represent a general layout. The layout is very fluid at this point as, once the color is added, the layout may no longer work as well as I hoped.

From here, I tend to work from the top down, starting with adding the logo, getting it’s general size and position right, moving down to the menu, followed by the content of the site. This can vary per site and depending on the layout I have in mind for the project.

However, regardless of the layout, as I mentioned in my last post, Best Design Advice, I try to design each element as if it’s going to be evaluated outside of its home in the design. So each button, for example, is taken into consideration on its own as well as as a part of the whole design. I have found this to be incredibly useful.

Once everything is in place and I’m happy with the look and feel, I close the project and take about a day (or at the very least a few hours) without looking at it. Then I’ll go back and look at it with fresh eyes to see if anything jumps out as not working or out of place or needing of improvement.

So that’s basically my design process. I find it works really well for me.