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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard jag5311's Avatar
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    Do you have a plan for your designs, or do you sometimes wing it

    I am just curious about something, for most of you. As a beginner in web design, I just feel an answer could help me.

    If I am wanting to work on my skills as a designer and putting web pages together, do you guys sometimes just fiddle in Photoshop coming up with ideas, or do you find a PROJECT first and then run off that.

    Though I do have a couple sites I could work on, I find myself starting into my photoshop canvas wondering what I could create. I often feel like I am wasting precious time and energy when I could be doing something productive.

    What are your thoughts on this.

    Thanks
    Bryan

  2. #2
    Formerly known as RockNRollPig Shpigford's Avatar
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    Something that I did was make fake sites. I'm big into music, bands, etc....so I just made lots of fake band sites.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Zealot 00.ZoMbiE's Avatar
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    I try to start off with a project, but often it doesn't come out the way I expect it to be so I wing it to suit my tastes.

    Usually, I look around for inspiration and come up with a project (hey, I like how he positioned the nav bar there , etc.) and build a site that incorporates the good points of the said website. Course you don't copy the website, just get some good ideas from it.

    Usually, when you already have a starting point, it's easy to just wing it until you come up with something you like. Its starting a project that's the hardest for me.

    Hope I helped you out.

  4. #4
    Is Still Alive silver trophybronze trophy RetroNetro's Avatar
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    Hello

    Something that I did was make fake sites. I'm big into music, bands, etc....so I just made lots of fake band sites.
    Thats how I learned, and I still do it when I'm bored.

    Later
    Johnny

  5. #5
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    I tend to build mockups in HTML and CSS rather than Photoshop. I'm much faster in Dreamweaver and TopStyle than I'll probably ever be in Photoshop.

  6. #6
    i'm a girl silver trophy Toni's Avatar
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    pen and paper saves time and headaches
    I pick a layout, and then a color palette. Then I work on the CSS and HTML.

    If you want practice, why not make some templates?

  7. #7
    Formerly known as RockNRollPig Shpigford's Avatar
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    I tend to build mockups in HTML and CSS rather than Photoshop. I'm much faster in Dreamweaver and TopStyle than I'll probably ever be in Photoshop.
    I'm gonna go ahead and agree...I do most mockups on the HTML/CSS side of things instead of photoshop....i just don't really care to build a whole layout and then chop it all up...

  8. #8
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    I made a bunch of templates, expecting to be able to use one or two later on, but clients didn't like them. Clients always have their own ideas, many of which are unrealistic.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Member jago's Avatar
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    I think its personal preference and the way your brain is wired!!! Some people have to have a visual guide to start off with and then build accordingly. I do that. the site never ends up exactly as the mock up... but its my starting point. Maybe with more experience I will just be able to write the relevant code from the pic in my head...and visualise a color from a bunch of numbers...but can't yet.

  10. #10
    The knight who said ni! RockyShark's Avatar
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    To answer the original question, I always have a project to start with. Before I 'went pro' I used to invent resons for websites (like the fake bands idea) but I find it a lot easier if you have a goal or a destination.

    I then play in Fireworks, but whether you use Photoshop, plain HTML/CSS or paper depends upon the way you work and what you're comfy with, I guess. But have a reason and a bit of a site map together first. IMHO.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard jag5311's Avatar
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    Thanks guys. Here is the one thing I hate about fireworks and photoshop type of website. Its how graphic intensive they are. I always feel like when I am doing something in photoshop, that yea, it might look cool, but man, this will be a download. Then at the same time, I don't want to have a boring website made of pure xhtml and css I know you can be creative. Its good to use graphics programs for a header, some icons, and maybe even a menu bar holder (but use css for links), and thats about it. Oh well.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Member 3guysandme's Avatar
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    i start with the end goal -- then I sketch on paper the potential layout and where I want the major portions of the site to lay. Then I start straight in dreamweaver adding the pretty after I've gotten the basic layout on the screen. I can usually adjust the preliminary layout pretty easily to fit the graphics etc.

    I agree, I think it depends on what you are comfortable with.

    if it is for a client that is vague in what they want, I usually mock up in fireworks (just got photoshop so still am not very strong) and put notes as to what the functionality I envision is and show them before I start doing anything else. that way the changes don't cost me time and frustration.

  13. #13
    runat="server" Golgotha's Avatar
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    I would recommend you NOT start in your graphic program.

    Start either on paper or in code and then build the graphics as needed. This typically means you will only create the graphic that you need and nothing more.

    Often when you start in your graphics program you create the graphic then slice and dice the graphic up and then try and make a page from it. What you often times end up with is many not so needed graphic shards.

    here is a layout I recently did: http://www.plasmapages.com/jpma_css/cp3.html

    then I go back and add the skin to it...

    what I ended up with in the above layout is: http://www.jpma.com/jpma_web_2004/

    trust me on this one - this is 7 years experience here.

    EDIT>> an added bonus of doing it the above way is since it is essentially just a skin added to a layout you can change skins very easy...
    Last edited by Golgotha; Nov 6, 2003 at 09:32.

  14. #14
    Formerly known as RockNRollPig Shpigford's Avatar
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    Very nice example Golgotha...

  15. #15
    SitePoint Wizard jag5311's Avatar
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    holy hell, that is cool. I can't believe you went from site a to site b.

  16. #16
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jag5311
    holy hell, that is cool. I can't believe you went from site a to site b.
    Once the building blocks are in place it's just a matter of style. A solid foundation structure will always yield good results

  17. #17
    SitePoint Addict KelliShaver's Avatar
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    I used to start in a graphics program, but now I'll start off with pencil and paper, then go to code, then go back and plug in graphics later. I agree that effectivel "skinning a layout" is much more efficient, and makes the layout easy to change/reuse in the future.

    I typically find that my work comes out better if I have a real project involved.

    btw, nice site, golgotha.

  18. #18
    The knight who said ni! RockyShark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jag5311
    holy hell, that is cool. I can't believe you went from site a to site b.
    Yeah - I was thinking the same thing!

  19. #19
    runat="server" Golgotha's Avatar
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    it's like vg~ said, "Once the building blocks are in place it's just a matter of style."

    site 'a' is the layout - then you just drop in the skin.

  20. #20
    SitePoint Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by jag5311
    holy hell, that is cool. I can't believe you went from site a to site b.
    Yeah, that example is like a stick figure pencil drawing to a shaded portrait.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Member 3guysandme's Avatar
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    golgotha, I finaly got to take a look at the finished product (the link wasn't working earlier). WOW!!! Way cool.

    I too feel it is easier to drop a skin on a layout.

    Stacey

  22. #22
    SitePoint Enthusiast SoccerCheese's Avatar
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    that link is cool (site a to site b)
    I usually sketch out the layout and then do multiple graphics for the different sections. The last one I did I used Illustrator because most of the artwork was vector, I could give samples for approval easier, and didn't have to mess with exporting and importing, etc. Easy to change colors too.
    I think it depends on the type of project too. Maybe the artwork you're designing will be used in other media, and that should be taken into consideration.
    I personally don't like creating in pixel based programs as much as I do in vector based programs. You can always go to pixels from vector, but going the other way seems more difficult.
    I want to tell you a story, about a little man, if I can
    A gnome named Grimble Cromble, little gnomes stay in their homes...

  23. #23
    SitePoint Zealot animatics's Avatar
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    Yea I love using illustrator to mock up sites actually to mock up just about anything. I ussually start in illustrator to get the basic idea down then move over to dreaweaver and start the real work. It often times ends up being alot different from my illustrator mock up but I find it a great way to brainstorm.

  24. #24
    Huh? What now? tntcheats's Avatar
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    I, personally, never practice making websites. I create websites, and redesign them.

    That's my practice, seeing as the last site I've made was redesigned over 10 times in the course of under 5 months.

  25. #25
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    I worked as a information architect for a few years so that has probably had a huge influence on how I approach a project.

    1) site goals
    2) gather content
    3) arrange content
    4) sitemap
    5) wireframe
    6) user testing (even if it's just some friends)
    7) mock-up
    8) more user testing (repeat step 7 and 8 until you get it right)
    9) build
    9a) browser testing (thankfully I've allowed myself torealize that N4 is a second class browser and don't try to get everything exact across all platforms)
    10) Launch
    11) Monitor and upgrade (residual income, yay!).

    Even when I was starting out and doing mock sites I tried to follow these steps so that it would be that much easier when a paying project came up.


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