Designing for the Web ~ Research & Ideas
The Design Process Before delving into design principles for the web, letâ€™s look at the traditional design process which I was taught in schoolâ€”still the standard in use today by the graphic design industry. The Traditional Design Process 1. Brief The brief is comprised of a couple of documents: The client brief is what the client gives you. It might be a formal Request For Proposal (RFP), or simply a short email. It generally outlines the initial aims and objectives of the project, the deliverables, and may indicate many of the clientâ€™s expectations about the final workâ€™s function or appearance. Deliverables include documents, content, sketches, everything that the client will provide to you and anything that youâ€™ll provide to them. The client may also provide deadlines for each deliverable, though whether they deliver theirs on time is a long, sad tale weâ€™d need to cover in a separate book. The creative brief is a document produced by a designer in response to the client brief. Sometimes, it is an oral brief given at the start of the project by a senior creative, meaning someone on the design team, such as an art director, creative director or designer. It outlines the creative elements of the project. In order for the designers to focus on their part of the process, this is the only document they tend to see. Already, in this first stage of the process, you can begin to see the cracks. The designers are being separated from the process. Theyâ€™re given their own brief. Why is that? Are
designers not capable of extracting that information from the client, the clientâ€™s RFP, or even from researching the project directly? Design, as weâ€™ll see, is not a process that exists in isolation. The job of design isnâ€™t just to make information look pretty or to decide if an element on a page should be blue or orange. It may involve deciding where on a page to place an element, (such as a heading or image), how much emphasis should be given to that element, and how to emphasise it. It looks at readability and how to most effectively arrange information. Good design arises from the initial problem, goals, audience or readership needs, and business plans, and reflects the identity and brand of the client. Clearly, bringing in the designer as a type of decorator after all the important decisions have been made is not the smartest approach.
2. Research Research is vital to the success of any design solution. A designer should be as informed as they can be about the project. Research can be conducted in a number of ways, many of which Iâ€™ll discuss in detail later in this section. The findings of this research provide three key deliverables in the design process:
1. Insights to help generate ideas for the design. 2. Data with which to â€˜senseâ€”checkâ€™ design solutions. An example of this would be research that led to the generation of project personas, or pen portraitâ€™s. 3. Frame the design solution in the real world. Solutions to design problems can often be developed in a bubble. As such, they can quickly become divorced from reality. Designers donâ€™t need to be involved in the actual research, but they do need access to the results. Quite often, research is compiled into a debrief document by a research agency who has been commissioned to conduct the research.
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Designing for the web