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  1. #1
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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
    SitePoint Guru cyjetsu's Avatar
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    It is good to practice design in photoshop, however all design has a function, you need to find a project or at least imagine the function of the website (eg ecommerce, tv, music, business etc). Then once you have a function, you have a theme to work on. Then you can design.

    I often used to just mess around in graphics programs without an idea of what I wanted to create, just randomly creating panels and images for the layout, and I never really created anything worth saving because it all just looked random and out of place. I would say you really need to think of a good theme/function for a design before you start anything.

    That said it is good to practice techniques in graphics software, but once you have that nailed, don't waste your time unless you have an idea first. Remember, function dictates form!

    Best thing to do is think of some themes/functional sites to design, by either the most common you think you would be designing or what you like best, and choose different themes, eg, business, movies, food/culture or something. Then work on them and put them in your portfolio.

  3. #3
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    Time is money, so I don't design without a purpose

    But sometimes I copy elements (like buttons, menus) from other sites to learn that technique..

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Black Max's Avatar
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    I don't think this is an either-or proposition. I come at a new design from a visual and usability standpoint--what do I want it to look like, how do I want it to function, what will a user be able to do and how efficiently will the user be able to do it, etc. But you can't get so wrapped up in a rigid vision of how your site should look and function that you aren't open to changes, even radical changes. Your idea of how it should look and function can change and evolve, and if you're doing the design for someone else, I can guarantee you that at some point you'll be asked to make some relatively large changes, usually changes that you strenuously object to....

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    You could try approaching things from a different perspective. Instead of concentrating on the graphical side try building a page template using nothing but (x)HTML and CSS to get structure and presentation into place. Once you have everything how you want it go back to your image editor and create your logos, backgrounds etc and slot them into the relevant CSS styles.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Black Max's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluedreamer View Post
    You could try approaching things from a different perspective. Instead of concentrating on the graphical side try building a page template using nothing but (x)HTML and CSS to get structure and presentation into place. Once you have everything how you want it go back to your image editor and create your logos, backgrounds etc and slot them into the relevant CSS styles.
    That's the flip side of my approach, which is just as valid as what I said. I guess it's what works best for the individual.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    I tend to work for money. There are times which I will experiment, but most of my time is spent on active projects for paying clients. Time is money.

    Most the time a designer will create static designs. Once a static design is approved it will be built. This way there are not surprises and the client gets exactly what they purchased in a functioning form. It isn't efficient to go back and forth. The client know exactly what they are going to get and the developer know exactly what needs to be done.

    Design is very productive. Your not wasting time creating a static design. If anything your saving it.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Max View Post
    That's the flip side of my approach, which is just as valid as what I said. I guess it's what works best for the individual.
    I think a lot depends on the site, the site brief, and the mood of the designer! there are many ways to get from A to B!

  9. #9
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    Stay away from the monitor, sketch the layout on a paper, experiment with different layouts (still on paper), once you feel comfortable with a layout. Jump to an image editor, create it.

    webdesignfromscratch.com/web_design_process.cfm

  10. #10
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    I've started to use photoshop as my "sketch paper" I'll define all the elements for the page and desired placement. Once I got a wireframe in place I'll either start the design or pass it off to another graphic designer. Before I started doing this I'd just dive in and move stuff around as I went. I now realized this wasn't the best appraoch to start a design and starting with the wireframe is the best method that works for me.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Guru cyjetsu's Avatar
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    Does anyone use those UML data modeling tools for complex sites? I wonder if there are any good data modeling tools for web design, as there are lots for CAD etc.


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