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The Design Process - Part 1
We though we give you a guide into our design process at Virtual Web Designs.

For many web developers, myself included, the most intimidating part of the design process is getting started. Imagine for a moment that you’re sitting at your desk with nothing other than a cup of coffee and the business card of a potential client who needs a basic corporate web site.

Usually, a business card speaks volumes about a company’s identity, and could be used as design inspiration.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case with the card for Joe Blogs. It’s black and white, all text, no character. Talk about a blank canvas! So, where do you go from here? You need a plan … and you need to contact Joe Blogs. With some critical input from the client about what his company actually does, and by gathering information about the content you have to work with, you’ll be able to come up with a successful layout and design.

The Design Process

In a web-programming book I read recently, the author introduced a fictional scenario to explain why readers needed to design a page layout and create a style sheet for the example application. He basically said that the company web designer was off getting inspiration from somewhere and wouldn’t be back until later in the year. It sounded as if he was implying that designers are prone to flake out and go on vision quests for months at a time, but I’m going to assume the author made that comment in an endearing way, and introduce the same scenario.

Here are the hypothetical details of this scenario: Joe Blogs of Blogs Services needs a web site. We have his business card and he’s eager to get started. Unfortunately, the designer is out of town … wait, that’s not a good excuse. Let’s say he was injured during a freak dairy cow stampede while attending the South by South West Interactive (SXSWi) festival in Austin, Texas. Yeah, that’s believable. Anyway, he’s out for a few months, and you’re on your own. So where do you start? The actual process of developing an entire site or web application includes a lot of steps, but the process of creating a design comp boils down to only two tasks: discovery and implementation.


The discovery component of the design process is about meeting the clients and discovering what they do. This may not feel like a “designy” task, but gathering information about who your clients are and how they run their business is the only way you’ll be able to come up with an appropriate and effective design.

Before you schedule your first meeting with your clients, take a few minutes to figure out what they do and how they do it. If they’ve asked you to design a web site for them, they may not currently have one, but Google them anyway. If you can’t find any information about their business specifically, try to learn a little more about their industry before the first meeting. Whenever possible, the first meeting with a client should be an actual person-to-person meeting. Sometimes, distance will dictate that the initial meeting will occur over the phone or via email, but if the client is in town, schedule a time to meet.

Keep in mind that this meeting isn’t about impressing the client, selling yourself, or selling a web site. The initial client meeting is about communication. Try to listen more than you speak, and bring a pad of paper on which you can make notes. Do not bring a laptop. Computers have screens, and people tend to stare at them. If the client isn’t staring at the screen the whole time, you will be as you write your notes. If you must drag some technology into the meeting, bring a voice recorder. In my experience, though, a pad of paper is less threatening to the often not-so-tech-savvy client.

To be continued …
Webnetics UK Ltd.

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