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  1. #1
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    the design process. how do you make a design?

    i've been exprimenting lately, trying to get some new types of design going. I'm kind of hitting a brick wall though, so what I want to know is how you all plan out and design your sites.

    I used to just make a top image, then go from there. I've also tried drawing stuff out on paper first. Recently, I've been making one big graphic, then cutting it up and working a design around it.

    I've seen some really amazing designs in the trading post, like these ones:
    http://www.reproglobal.com/host/layoutbig.jpg
    http://www.paddydesign.com/designs/design3.gif
    http://www.paddydesign.com/designs/design.htm

    Can anyone share some ideas so that I can try some new techniques?


  2. #2
    Bimbo With A Brain! silver trophy Saz's Avatar
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    This is a tough one, for me anyway.

    I generally start with the colour scheme and try to find colours that reflect the mood of the site, taking into account whether it's to have a corporate or more personal feel.

    Then, and this is where I get really technical, I open up a graphics program and PLAY!!

    I really can't explain how I go about settling on a final design, because I don't know. All I know is that I'll make a start with a certain shape or what have you and then the whole design just evolves from there. It's very much along the lines of, "Well I like that, but I'm not sure about this bit. So what if I change that to this and swap those colours over. Now that bit looks good, but this bit doesn't go with it......!"

    One thing I've done on occasion, which I've mentioned in these forums before, is look through interior design magazines for inspiration. Also, when I'm out and about, I really take my surroundings in - shapes and colours. Although I do look at other sites, I try very hard not to allow myself to be influenced by their designs. Sometimes it can't be helped because it's done subconsiously, but I never purposely see something done on another site and use that as the basis for one of my designs.

    I realise my methods are far from practical, but they work for me.
    Saz: Naturally Blonde, Naturally Dizzy!
    No longer Editor of the Community Crier.

    Don't mind me, I'm having a BLONDE moment!

  3. #3
    That's Right. notepad_coder's Avatar
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    I always start with the CSS - colors, sizes and what not, then I work on an HTML template ( my own! ) to add my PHP to.

    If I am making a graphical interface, I start out with one big picture of how I want it to look.

    When I find the exact way I wan it to look I start adding content.
    - the lid is off the maple syrup again!

  4. #4
    Currently Occupied; Till Sunda Andrew-J2000's Avatar
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    I start with the layout, as most color schemes wont fit the layout or even the pictures used, after that you can judge what you want your page to look like.

    After the layout i would move onto javascript --> php --> mySQL --> Touch it up.

    The thing is you have to know how your going to design it, some layouts work where as others dont. So basically just design on paper if need be or in your head picture the layout then get down to design + programming

  5. #5
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    My design strategy depends on the kind of briefing, generally. In your case, you're probably briefing yourself, so i'll assume you have a pretty good idea of what you want. I'll rant on about content for a couple of paragraphs, which is probably not what you're expecting, but thinking about content is usually a pretty good way of getting through that brick wall you're facing.

    You should define your target audience pretty early on, even if your site is a personal one. I made the mistake of not doing this a couple of times with my own site, resulting in a lot of frustration because the people i wanted to see my site weren't visiting it, for a variety of reasons.
    Defining a target audience also helps you in focusing on what your site should look and feel like. It'll help solve a lot of dillemma's, like 'should i use Flash or not?', 'should navigation be Jakob-Nielsen-simple?', 'can i use lots of images?', 'do i need a portfolio page?', etcetera.

    You could start then by creating an overview of all the content/topics/... you want on your site, i usually do this with a pencil on a sheet of paper or in a sketchbook, just writing down everything i want on the site. Then, if you have a large number of topics (say, more than seven), start grouping them together in logical units and possibly give those a name.

    Then you can start thinking about how all this should be organised an presented on your site. Think about the types of content on your site and how your visitors could be guided to them. Maybe there are some things you planned on putting in a separate page that you can put on the homepage (like a searchbox or a newsletter subscription).
    At this point, you'll probably realise that a number of topics can be integrated or can be omitted. Possibly, you'll even think of some new ones.

    Then, start creating your lay-out, on paper or in some design app. I usually start out in my sketchbook, but quickly move to Flash, which i've found to be an excellent tool for laying out blocks of content on a page, since its drawing interface is very intuitive and it's fairly easy afterwards to cut it it up and create the actual site.

    That's about it. I hope i can help you get past that wall you're facing, i know your problem and it's one everyone faces on a regular basis.
    Basically, i'd say: let the content guide your design. In this respect, it's easier to redesign an existing site, because then you'll already have a good idea of what to work with.
    Letting the content guide your design doesn't mean you have to minimise graphics, at all. For example, you might come to the conclusion that most of your pages have very little text on them, which would normally result in empty-looking barren pages. Use this to your advantage, though, and fill up the empty space with lots of graphics and design, or a more elaborate navigation, depending on your audience.

    And: don't follow the Jakob Nielsen rules. Be creative, keep the web fun, give visitors something to think about for a change, not everything should be as easy as possible.
    Last edited by katdesign; Apr 12, 2002 at 01:27.
    katdesign says 'meow'


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