Designing a website can be an easy task to many, but taking into account many different goals and aspirations a client has for their online presence is not easy. Creating a “pretty picture” as we say, that people care about for their business isn’t just throwing their brand’s color palette and logo into Photoshop and hitting a mythical “design it” button. To us that is “template work”, where a company or an agency holding the account will take a pre-built or pre-designed WordPress theme/template, and swap out the provided colors and other assets with the client’s.
Doing template jobs aren’t necessarily a bad thing if the client has a limited budget, but at Three29 we take lots of pride in creating completely custom websites where we tackle the entire strategy of the client’s digital presence. This is a completely different process from those noted above. And that process is what will be discussed in this article.
Designing a custom website is very similar to designing a custom logo. It starts with a project brief and a discovery meeting. We must fully understand the company’s brand (once it’s provided or given to us to create), and begin competitive research. I personally do research as I design, which constantly gives me inspiration as I move through the assigned pages for what will be presented to the client. This research consists of browsing the net for broad criteria:
- Create wireframes
- Begin the site design
- Is the brand more progressive and modern, or is it more conservative?
- How often does the client foresee editing content?
- How far can we acceptably deviate from the original brand color palette?
After initially exploring layout concepts in the wireframe stage, we can start painting the pretty picture. I tend to explore my possibilities in a “quick and dirty” or rudimentary way to ignore all the minute details, until I find a tangent that moves me in a fully cohesive way.
While keeping the brand goals and ideals in mind, observing current trends, and using methods and techniques where at its core are fundamental and timeless (logical UI/UX), I can more freely explore other possibilities that compliment those primary focuses. The other possibilities would include textures, font styles, image accents, gradients, flat vs. skeuomorphic UI style (or a combination of both), etc.
My design style hovers around a “freestyle” focused methodology, where a lot of it is done in a way that just feels right, backing up decisions with over 5 years of industry experience and logic. However, I do learn something new every time I begin a fresh project.
Similar to what Lisa said in her article about logo design, please don’t have your cousin design a site for about $300. Leave your online presence in the hands of professionals who can see your vision for your business’s future.