The design process vs. design-as-product

The trouble with the word “template” is that its meaning depends on one’s point of view.

To some, a template is a ticket to an instant website. Many content management systems allow owners to change plug-and-play themes as easily as they change clothes, and inexpensive skins are just a Google search away.

To others, templates are learning tools. Studying samples of real-world code and style is more practical for them than following examples in a book or reviewing lecture notes.

Templates can represent independence. Anyone, even someone without basic design or development skills, can choose from hundreds of templates without fear that a “design expert” will question their decision.

Templates can also mean efficiency. They are generic enough to fit most information, and they are reusable. Fill the space with a dash of content and you’re done.

Many people I’ve worked with-designers, managers and clients alike-equate templates with design. To create a design is to build a chair in which the content will sit. To choose a design is to select a vehicle to carry information.

The noun “design” differs from the verb “design”: one is a product, the other a process. This thought begs the question: is web design skin deep, or are designers more than purveyors of templates?

intentional design stands out [Más…]
Chasing Keyboard Shortcuts

Thinking of the process of designing a website as “producing the best template” is the wrong approach. I know from experience.

Not long ago I was hired to design a law firm’s website. The business’ owners knew what they wanted, more or less, and provided JPG mock-ups. Aware of the tight deadline, the developer and I hammered out a database, a custom CMS and, of course, the HTML template.

Their three-column composition had pale boxes on a paler background. We measured space for ads on the right, worked to fit the search tool on the left, checked spacing in three versions of Explorer and tweaked the drop-shadows under the navigation bar. In short, we fretted over everything except the center column.

As deadline approached, we met to address last-minute problems. One person wasn’t satisfied with the arrangement of certain information. Someone suggested a solution and asked me to try it out. A few HTML changes later, we saw the new page. Everyone settled for this compromise, and the website went ahead.

After the launch, the client complimented my design skills and particularly my knowledge of keyboard shortcuts. At first, I didn’t recognize the unintended insult, but I’d been cast in the role of “button pusher,” and the field of design was button pushing. Worse, it was my fault: by acting on the committee’s whim, I put myself in this position. The job paid well, but the result was uninspired and the experience belittling.

The best way to design, and I mean the verb, is to keep on designing, to seek problems. To insist that “less is more” is the same as saying “Don’t do something unless the project suffers without it.”

template design vs. content design

How Does It Work?
1. Ask questions.

“What do we want to accomplish?” is just the beginning, and “To build a website” is not a sufficient answer.

* “Who are we trying to help, inform or influence?”
* “Why should people come to us instead of the competition?”
* “Who is responsible for what?”
* “What do we need in order to launch, and what can wait for later?”
* “How will we maintain this website? Who will make changes, monitor traffic and troubleshoot problems?”
* “Has this been done before? If so, how can we improve on it? What mistakes can we learn from?”


design-process-mass-producedhttp://www.webdesignerdepot.com

The trouble with the wordtemplate is that its meaning depends on one’s point of view.

To some, a template is a ticket to an instant website. Many content management systems allow owners to change plug-and-play themes as easily as they change clothes, and inexpensive skins are just a Google search away.

To others, templates are learning tools. Studying samples of real-world code and style is more practical for them than following examples in a book or reviewing lecture notes.

Templates can represent independence. Anyone, even someone without basic design or development skills, can choose from hundreds of templates without fear that a “design expert” will question their decision.

Templates can also mean efficiency. They are generic enough to fit most information, and they are reusable. Fill the space with a dash of content and you’re done.

Many people I’ve worked with-designers, managers and clients alike-equate templates with design. To create a design is to build a chair in which the content will sit. To choose a design is to select a vehicle to carry information.

The noun “design” differs from the verb “design”: one is a product, the other a process. This thought begs the question: is web design skin deep, or are designers more than purveyors of templates?

intentional design stands out

Chasing Keyboard Shortcuts

Thinking of the process of designing a website as “producing the best template” is the wrong approach. I know from experience.

Not long ago I was hired to design a law firm’s website. The business’ owners knew what they wanted, more or less, and provided JPG mock-ups. Aware of the tight deadline, the developer and I hammered out a database, a custom CMS and, of course, the HTML template.

Their three-column composition had pale boxes on a paler background. We measured space for ads on the right, worked to fit the search tool on the left, checked spacing in three versions of Explorer and tweaked the drop-shadows under the navigation bar. In short, we fretted over everything except the center column.

As deadline approached, we met to address last-minute problems. One person wasn’t satisfied with the arrangement of certain information. Someone suggested a solution and asked me to try it out. A few HTML changes later, we saw the new page. Everyone settled for this compromise, and the website went ahead.

After the launch, the client complimented my design skills and particularly my knowledge of keyboard shortcuts. At first, I didn’t recognize the unintended insult, but I’d been cast in the role of “button pusher,” and the field of design was button pushing. Worse, it was my fault: by acting on the committee’s whim, I put myself in this position. The job paid well, but the result was uninspired and the experience belittling.

The best way to design, and I mean the verb, is to keep on designing, to seek problems. To insist that “less is more” is the same as saying “Don’t do something unless the project suffers without it.”

template design vs. content design

How Does It Work?

1. Ask questions.

“What do we want to accomplish?” is just the beginning, and “To build a website” is not a sufficient answer.

  • “Who are we trying to help, inform or influence?”
  • “Why should people come to us instead of the competition?”
  • “Who is responsible for what?”
  • “What do we need in order to launch, and what can wait for later?”
  • “How will we maintain this website? Who will make changes, monitor traffic and troubleshoot problems?”
  • “Has this been done before? If so, how can we improve on it? What mistakes can we learn from?”

These don’t seem like design questions; however, a thorough understanding of the project will allow you to adopt the right graphic and technological techniques. For example, the choice of CMS will depend on how often the website will need to be updated-maybe a CMS isn’t even necessary.

2. Define the parameters…

Continues here:

http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2010/10/the-design-process-vs-design-as-product/

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