The Short Theory of Mastering Webdesign: How To Prepare A Design

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No matter if you are one of those people beating everyone’s quotations or one of those people getting upset about people beating everyone’s quotations: You can be worth more than you think by following a few steps listed here. Sounds interesting? Read on.

If you aren’t just starting out, you might know that most of the jobs you get as a web designer (or developer or whatever) are not for the website of your favourite band, the super cool coffee company from around the corner or your always-winning sports club.

People tend to finish “annoying” jobs as fast as possible, just for getting the money and going on to another – much more fun – job. And as they realize that the new job is not the much-more-fun-job, they do the same over and over again; always finishing one job and looking for another. How about thinking of an annoying job as a challenging job? In order to make the most of your project, I put together a list of a few steps that work for me – and make as good as every job a great job.

Think before design

Talk to your client, understand his business and his goals. Research the market, visit the websites of rival businesses to figure out what they do good and – even more important – what they do wrong. After all of that, apply your research results to a written (not painted) strategy for your client’s website.

The website strategy should at least contain:

  • a description of the target audience
  • a general description of the website
  • a rough sitemap containing the different pages
  • a definition of the conversion target(s)

We are still far from Photoshop. Instead, let’s…

Take a sheet of paper and a pencil

There is nothing more inspiring than an empty sheet of paper. Though you might have a rough image in your head of how the website should look like already, grab your pencil and start drawing a few different rough scribbles of the home page and some sub pages. During this process, you will usually find more ideas on how to place the different parts you mentioned in your website strategy (see above).

There is nothing more inspiring than an empty sheet of paper.

As soon as you chose your favourite layout elements, put them all together in a clearly arranged scribble. Refrain from showing your scribble(s) to your client if he is not well-disposed to design! He might not understand that it is just a scribble. Happened to me twice ;-)

Take a break

Take a shower or take a nap and rethink your design. To me, taking a shower works best. (Man, I love my shower!)

When you took a break without finding something to change on your scribble, it’s time to start Photoshop (or a similar program) and actually start designing.

Nils Kattau, living in Berlin, is CEO & Founder of whatanicepost, a blog “featuring the best articles for webdesign & development”. Follow the Blog on Twitter or Facebook.

  • This is a tiny piece of info a TON of designers could benefit from, and not just as relating to web design but other applications as well.

    Far too many times do I see designers receive a potential client or client in general that wants something specific only for the designer to hurry through it because it isnt related to their interests.

    We, as creative professionals, need to offer our skills to others who are looking to create something they like as well. Not just something we are proud of ourselves.

    Definitely going to be posting this link on Twitter as more people should take this to heart. Thanks! :D

  • For me, design is similar in process to writing. Sometimes you just need to get something down on paper so you have something to work with. Often it will trigger some inspiration or a great idea and then things flow freely.

  • I always use pencil when im in a client. The thing is u can always go back to it when your spinning of in the wrong direction!

  • “Sounds very impressive. Thanks for sharing!”

  • Great article. Sometimes we forget the basics and jump right into the design phase = underquote on time!
    will be sure to grab my pencil before my mouse next time :)

  • This was really helpful info. It’s a good way to double check everything and make sure it’s ready for submission!