Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water…

Baby BathwaterFinally getting to the design phase with a client is a very exciting time because this is when the web designer’s creativity should come out. All of this is built upon a foundation of brainstorming that should have occurred during the previous phases. So do you have a firm handle on the previous phases? Do you have a plan? Are the client’s purpose, goals, users, tasks, etc. analyzed? Just because we are now designing, doesn’t mean what we discussed in the planning and analysis is out the window!

So, don’t throw out the baby with the bath water! The data that you gathered with the client in those early phases is so crucial! Don’t throw it out! So be sure to draw from the all of information gathered up to this point and finally start to determine the look and feel of the site. Some key considerations when determining a sites design are

  • Defining how to organize web page content
  • Designing user’s navigation

In terms of designing we need to focus on the content of the site and making that content central to the design. Remember “Content Is King!” Our sites could have really cool images and videos… but if our content isn’t clear and accessible, then our sites fail. Like I said, the site’s content is based on the results of the previous phases, e.g., the purpose & analysis. It is also highly possible that a site design and development team might have to go backwards and re-think the previous phases because of what is found out in the design phase.

Sometimes a site’s design actually restricts what the user is looking for. A good design is clear, concise, and uncluttered. The visuals of a site should enhance the user experience and draw attention to the content and not distract them from it. If you cannot justify using something that creates a more compelling and direct content… then don’t use it! Because it’s cool is not a justification!

Therefore, the target audience is one of the key factors taken into consideration here. A site aimed at teenagers, for example, will look much different than one meant for the elderly. In terms of design, think of how to incorporate elements such as the company logo or colors to help strengthen the identity of the company on the web site.

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About DaveHallmon

With experience in web, graphic, and instructional design, Dave maintains a balance between what is efficient and effective in every message. He always focuses on the why and how rather than "just doing it" to get the job done. By day he works at a leading university designing online courses that support 9,000 students in 64 countries. He works directly with faculty to brainstorm, design, and develop their online instruction utilizing the Adobe suite. He also teaches for the university as an adjunct faculty member in the area of web design. By night he is a devoted husband, father, freelancer, and adventurer of the outdoors. His other interests include LifeHacker, Science Fiction and Hayao Miyazaki movies, Settlers of Catan, and coffee with friends. He currently lives in St. Louis and has an M.S. in Instructional Design and aspires to pursue a professional degree in content marketing and strategy. Visit the links below for more information about his interests and design work.
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