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  1. #1
    SitePoint Guru htown's Avatar
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    Site design workflow

    I have been building and designing web sites for some time now and you would have thought I would have figured out a system by now but I guess we all become creatures of habit and tend to stick with what we know. But as efficiency becomes more and more of an issue for me I wonder what some others are doing to make their work flow efficient. Specifically I am speaking of the ol' phrase, "form follows function" and not the other way around. I always find myself designing a site for clients based on some questions and conversations and then I design the site. They then send me the content and I put it in. This is extremely elemental I understand, but recently my thoughts had lead me to believe that the content should be supplied first for a more custom and well designed site. The FORM (Design) of the site should follow the FUNCTION (content), and not the other way around.

    I would like to hear some comments and workflow ideas of others in this forum. I look forward to your comments.

    many thanks,
    Houston
    Houston Brown
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    Bringing your ideas to light.

  2. #2
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Starting with the content and then incorporating the design is something I do as well (even though I'm not a designer). It's a basic tenet of information architecture, actually. And believe it or not, can have an impact on the usability and SEO of a Web site when done properly.

  3. #3
    WordPress Freelancer banago's Avatar
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    I have read that the best practice is to begin sketching the design on paper, after that going on a design app and after that getting content in.

    However, this is not the way I go either. I usually work with content inside too. I make design ideas on Inkscape first as well.
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  4. #4
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    Me personally I like to see some content first to get a better understanding of what the site will really be about. No matter how hard people try to do a good job explaining what their site is about and what they want it to do I find that if I build the site first and then get their content I end up having to go back to tweak the layout to incorporate page elements that were not obvious prior to getting the content.

    I have also found that having clients forward me a list of websites they like visually it cuts down the conceptual phase quite dramatically. In most cases there is an obvious style trend that I can incorporate in the design of their site.
    When in doubt, build a website!

  5. #5
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    I do the content last.

    The client can take forever to get it together so I design the site and blend the content into it.

  6. #6
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    I don't understand, axeray. If you don't even know what content will be on a Web site, how can you design one? Or are you just creating a pretty looking generic-style template that then has to be modified later?

  7. #7
    SitePoint Guru cyjetsu's Avatar
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    You need a solid process for working with any kind of project, otherwise you will end up wasting time working on stuff that later you will throw away because it does not work.

    I posted this in another thread here.
    I have updated my process and refined it a bit since this, but this is the basic idea of it.

    1) Project idea

    2) Analysis
    2A) Market analysis
    2B) Business model
    2B1) Introduction brief (define type of site ecommerce/sales/services)
    2B2) Core goals(standards, content type, revenue targets etc)
    2B3) Core service/data/functionality (content planning)
    2B4) Core strategies (market penetration-broad/niche, vectors etc)
    2C) Project in action plan (traffic flow maps of type of website etc)
    2D) Project in action tactics (traffic targets, statistical analysis plans etc)

    3) Data development/model
    3A) Brief, then development, write all the content etc.
    3B) Data organisation map/model/information architecture

    4) Wireframe development
    4A) Components map (based on data model/map)
    4B) Wireframes (functions, navigation, heatmaps etc)

    5) Beta/prototype development
    5A) Build fully functional model, without advanced features(graphics functions etc)

    5) Beta testing(does it work, any major flaws?), +analysis

    6) Alpha development (full graphics, functionality and seo)
    +standards, validation proofreading etc.
    7) Alpha testing (validation, standards, compatibility etc)
    8) Alpha deployment(actual launch), and further feedback in real web environment
    9) Marketing and further seo
    10) Project in action analysis(traffic analysis)
    11) Expansion and updates.
    12) Further research and modifications etc.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Addict Newviewit's Avatar
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    Research and content are king. Marketing strategy needs to be built around content. What information is essential to get across to customers? What actions do you want them to follow?

    Designs wrap everything together and put the final touches on the goals of the website but do not come first. Usually I try to tie in basic design ideas and content at the same time while conducting market research and developing the marketing strategies for the website. Try a few design ideas with different content ideas. After the content/ideas/strategy are finalized then I usually move into finallizing the design based on the content
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