7th September 2011

What makes a good web designer

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I was recently asked in a meeting “why does agency X produce better looking sites than agency Y, is it all down to the individual designers?” I instantly replied, “Yes, well of course it is”. In hindsight, I was wrong.

We see design we like and don’t like every minute of every day. Whether it be on a billboard on the way to work or the first website you come across in the morning, you will always get an instant impression from the ‘look and feel’ of the design. So what leads to that impression, and most importantly, what makes you like a design?

Good design is a result of a multitude of factors from various sources, not just the individual designer:

Understanding the brief
The team must understand the purpose of what they’re designing. What must the user experience? What should be the outcome of their experience? The designer should know the answers to those questions in order to fulfill the brief.

Web Design Brief

We produce a scoping document to outline our understanding of the brief to the client

Understanding the target audience
The target audience will play a big part in influencing the design of a website. You’d expect to think differently for an elderly male than a pre school female. Factors such as navigation, colours, font, font size and structure may all be subject to change in order to fit your target audience.

Using appropriate technologies
Web technologies are developing all the time, and for us web savvies, we’ve learned to love it. However, what about the non web savvy audience, or even someone that’s made a terrible browser choice… There’s always going to be a lag in browsers and understanding of certain web tech, so some projects may need to be pegged back with that in mind.

Planning
There’s nothing worse than diving in the deep end with web design. Planning such as wireframing is fundamental to the whole design process. Getting your structure and priority levels bang on before you start pixel pushing means more time and focus can be spent on the aesthetics later on.

wireframing

Post-Its, paper and sharpies – the way forward for wireframing

Resources
It’s always hard to design with limited or no resources such as imagery, copy and artwork at the ready. So many clients will come with nothing, and expect everything. In my experience in design, good photography alone can massively enhance a design. Without these simple resources, even the best designers in the world would struggle.

Process
Bringing everything we’ve discussed into an outlined process is imperative in order to achieve efficiency and quality. Think of each step as a building block to design; you can be 75% of the way there before your designer opens Fireworks.

The team
At Creode, the whole team is involved in the design process. We idea generate together, we plan in teams and we’re all aware we have a slice in the overall process. A good design (and designer) needs a solid team behind them keeping ideas fresh and innovation high.

Creode Web Design Team

We believe working as a team leads to better design

And finally of course:

The designer
There are people that can produce an aesthetically pleasing piece, and those that can’t. In my view, it’s not a skill you can pick up or learn, you either have it or you don’t. It’s not just down to raw talent, of course factors such as idea generation, understanding, attention to detail and patience can all come into play.

So, yes the designer is fundamental however your team is even more important. Come up with a weak idea, using the wrong tech and targeting the wrong audience and you will struggle to produce a good design piece. Having the right team in place and working through the process, then you’re onto a winner.