On Thursday 9th June I sat my last exam at Cambridge University, and potentially my last exam ever (unless I decide to get some really useful and well-respected additional qualifications). I have, of course, spent the time between then and now celebrating – finding out in the process that Lemsip is a fantastic hangover cure.

So what to do now? You may or may not remember a previous post in which I detailed four things I needed to do: I think I can safely say that I’ve completed goals 1–3 (although we shall have to wait and see whether the First is in the bag) and now I just have Goal 4 to do: redesigning this site. This brings me to my comment-encouragement question: how do people go about their designs? As you might have noticed, my designs tend to be fairly basic in nature, and I know there are a fair number of talented designers who read this site, so I’m going to commence brain-picking: do you tend to start with pencil-and-paper sketches, a prototype in the image software of your choice or just an idea in your head? Do you start with a basic layout and tweak it or plan all the measurements right from the start?


(P.S. San Andreas is out – it’s rather good.)

6 Responses to “Finished!”

    •  Gravatar for Meri
    • From Meri
    • Sunday 12 June 2005 at 13:30

    My redesign strategy is simple.

    First, I despair about how my site looks. Loudly.

    Secondly, Elly gets annoyed with my constant prattling.

    Thirdly, she does something magical and improves it a thousand-fold. Sometimes this includes paper sketches and usually Photoshop mockups.

    Finally, I find really little details to fix/complain about, just so I feel part of the whole process.


    •  Gravatar for Ben
    • From Ben
    • Sunday 12 June 2005 at 13:45

    I work on paper first, then if necessary I’ll mock up parts of it in Photoshop. I don’t ‘draw’ very well on the computer though, so my sketches always work better. I’ll also tend to annotate basic XHTML markup over the top of my sketches. The process is quite similar to the way Andy Clarke works (read his site, he’s written a few things in the past about his design process and it’s fascinating).

    Having a consistant theme or idea can also produce effective design results, but it’s not absolutely vital to a sucessful design by any means.

  1. Process Stories

    Fatbusinessman asks “how do people go about their designs?”, so here’s my attempt at an answer. This is not a definitive answer to how I come up with anything. This is frequently not the process I end up using… best laid plans and all that.

    I s…

    •  Gravatar for Jonty
    • From Jonty
    • Monday 13 June 2005 at 06:41

    Personally, if this doesn’t sound to pompous, I think the design process is a fairly unique affair specific to each individual, and even then it’s something which may evolve.

    For me personally, I presently start out by drawing a spider diagram of the main concepts I/the client want to convey, including colours, themes etc. Then, also on paper, I sketch a smallish ~4:3 rectangle and just let my mind do the rest. Sometimes I start with one cool idea and work the site design around that, other times I picture the wider design and then add more detail. Annotate your sketches with colour ideas, or highlighting specifics, or mentioning sites which have inspired a feature. I like to keep my designs together, even if they’re on random bits of paper, as I may develop half a dozen for one project and use none of them, but then revisit them and pick out bits which may be suitable for another project.

    With a rough design in place I then start to think how I would achieve such a layout whilst maintaining a decent internal structure. I then set about coding it, just the basic shape, no final colours, content or artwork. Whilst I prefer to hand code sites, which makes this a bit of a long process, others often mockup their site in a visual editor then sort out the code later to tidy it up. With the layout consistent across browsers I then start to choose a colour palette, add more specifics. Sometimes things will gell, other times you need to modify your design due to the unexpected way you may use feature x etc. Getting feedback prior to launch is usually a good thing thing, and you can always use your designer’s prerogative and ignore it (although don’t be afraid of changing something if it really does have to be altered). Finally comes validation and all the other little details which go into making a good site great (I personally love it when you spot little details which needn’t have been included, but show that the author has taken the time to put in that extra effort beecause he/she genuinely cares about their work).

    Like I say, I personally believe that whatever way works best for you is just as acceptable as anybody else’s method, there’s no right and wrong (and, tbh, I’ve yet to finish a site myself ;)).

    •  Gravatar for Elly
    • From Elly
    • Monday 20 June 2005 at 11:46
    First, I despair about how my site looks. Loudly…Finally, I find really little details to fix/complain about, just so I feel part of the whole process.

    I’ve a funny feeling she just enjoys whinging…..;)

  2. I’ve a funny feeling she just enjoys whinging…

    In the interests of diplomacy, I couldn’t possibly comment 😉