Web Design Development
"From vision to drafts"

Over the next three days I will be writing up three blog entries for people interested in the thought process of web design development; I will provide a few fundamental tips that should give you a head start over others who usually don't keep these in mind, and then fail to perform as a freelancer or contract designer.

This is part 1 of 3 : From vision to drafts

Each time you start with a project you should dedicate yourself to it by fully understanding what the client wants. Realize this is not a one time session and plan ahead to evaluate drafts and to email or phone in for additional information or for follow up questions. This is part of the research & development (R&D) process that goes before you even pick up a pencil and paper and write-, and sketch out ideas. Without understanding the vision of the client you will not even be able to complete the project for 50%, no matter how good you are.

When a cloud of ideas is presented, a vision is drawn out, and the work is cut out for you, it will be time to take notes and draw sketches on paper. Diagrams are not always that quick and simple on a computer, taking notes alone simply doesn't cut it in a project manager. Ripping up paper when an idea to paper doesn't work out is as easy as deleting a document, and your creative freedom isn't bound to the restrictions of features and options in a computer program. Of course, once it is worked out on paper, and the puzzle pieces seem to fit, you can convert it to the digital world. Using the right tools you can create quick visual drafts that you can present to the client. This will give him (or her) the opportunity to review what has been discussed, and decide whether or not to continue with the project, take a different approach, or expand it with ideas for the future. Or simply reshape a few things.

It's time to discuss
with the client the fundamentals of the design throughout the site. And that's where this three part blog is really about. When you create the work for a client, shape it, move it from vision to the real world, and do a good job, you should keep a few things in mind. Ensure that you have build an opportunity for the client to earn back his investment in you. It will result in you doing a good job, and probably getting hired in the future again.

My first of three tip is probably the most important one.

Branding.

If you see a red box with curly letters you don't really read what's written on it, your brain already thinks Coca Cola. Using the logo throughout the design, including the use of colours and font face is key. The visitor of the web site should instantly recognize the brand, and automatically adapt to it. The visitor should remember it and learn to understand the brand by simply browsing the site. It is very important to find the balance between a huge header just to span a logo, and a subtle in-line image placement. An eye for design is a requirement. If you lack this talent - delegate. Get someone else on your team who does to advice, and then trust their experience and professionalism.

The branding is very important for a company, it helps them increase awareness, market share, and eventually sales. I still consider a web site to be a digital business card, so branding is as much important on-line as it is off-line. Make sure in your R&D process that you understand their branding, use it in the design. And think about the future, because we all know site changes are imminent as branding and the site (content) will grow.

Ok, this first entry is a little bit long, as I wanted to give a bit of background and a start up idea. Check back tomorrow for the second blog of this three part writing. I will then discuss how to find simplicity in complexity.