Streamline Your Web Design Process

Reading a post on Top 6 Tips to Streamline Your Web Design Process made me think about the overall design process for a website. Here are some thoughts on their six tips.

Project structure is important and almost any website is going to be built in phases. Typically there are clear phases, such as:
  1. Plan
  2. Design
  3. Develop
  4. Launch
  5. and then after the launch there are always revisions to be made.
The planning phase may be the most important time to streamline the process. Some designers use project management software to track progress (Google Sheets, Microsoft Project etc.) and set milestones, dates etc.

Depending on the size and scope of a project, you may use tools such as Canva or Niice to create mood boards to help your client decide on fonts, colors, branding, etc.  But that may not be necessary for smaller projects when a face-to-face meeting with the client allows you to review samples on a screen and decide on an overall approach.

I have found that clients are easily overwhelmed by too many options. I generally will offer two or three designs, but I always have a few others in my back pocket just in case my initial options get a tepid response.

You can use tools such as Divi to help in the layout design process which can be faster than building wireframes and mockups because you’re building the layout at the same time.

I have also found that including images in a design will help a client get a better sense of what the site will look like, but images that are not the client's or not similar to their own imagery can throw them off.

Even if a client seems unconcerned (or uninformed) about usability and accessibility, make it part of the design process.

Most experienced designers will have prior work, premade layouts and page templates that they will use as a starting place. If I can remix prior work, my job is easier AND their cost is reduced.

After client approval, the development phase begins, although if you were using tools during the design phase properly, you actually have some pages partially developed.

I always have other people test every page, view image and click every link and button for usability. Then allow the client to inspect and approve the website’s final design. Test the site on multiple devices including phones and tablets and with multiple browsers to ensure that it’s responsive and everything works as expected.

The launch phase can mean transferring the website from the development site to its live location, or simply clicking "publish."

For some designers post launch is a very important phase because it includes ongoing care and maintenance which can ultimately provide more income than the creation of the site.

I often have to train the client or user’s on how to update the website themselves.

Even if the client plans on keeping the site going on their own, they are still a potential future client for ongoing maintenance, customizations, additions, or even a site redesign a year or two down the road.


Should My Website Be Adaptive or Responsive?

Adaptive mesh refinement illustration

Should My Website Be Adaptive or Responsive? The takeaway from a post by Veronica Raducan on that questions is that while responsive and adaptive aren’t superior to one another, they are different designer tools.

I would disagree somewhat and lean much more to responsive as I see few reasons to use adaptive design. Currently, adaptive is the less common choice.

Responsive designs work by creating a single version of a web page, which then “responds” to the resolution and screen size of the visitor’s device and rearranges elements of the page so they comfortably fit the dimensions of the device. 
Adaptive web design, on the other hand, requires the creation of multiple versions of a web page, usually desktop, mobile or tablet. Once the site identifies the visitors’ type of device, it then displays the version optimized for it.

Responsive has wider support and adoption, and is certainly less work for the web designer.

Responsive is also more flexible in that there are many existing screen resolutions used across all devices, and new ones are always appearing as screens on smartphones and monitors continue to evolve.

So, why would anyone choose adaptive?

One reason is if you want to target certain users or devices. If you are building a site for iPhone users, a responsive design will adapt the best it can, but you could design specifically for the iPhone X at 2436 X 1125 pixels.

Also an eCommerce site may use adaptive because they rely heavily on conversion optimization and apparently responsive designs aren’t well suited for this because what works on Android, might not work on an iPhone and what works on Macs may differ on PCs.