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Website design newbie

How do I get started?

     
2:35 pm on Jun 25, 2016 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator bakedjake is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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I have a question. How do I learn to produce a website design? Just to be clear, I'm not asking how to be a good designer. :)

Rather, I'm looking for the implementation steps in broad terms.

I have and use Photoshop (as a mediocre hobbyist photographer). I'm not an expert but I understand the tool and how to use it and where to look for help if I can't do what I need to. I have Illustrator, but don't know much about it.

I always make wireframes for my pages, but I tell the designers I work with that they're meant to describe functionality or required data attributes on the page, not to represent positioning or styling. I usually provide a one page summary of the project where I describe what I'm going for in the project, any unique elements I'm interested in, etc. So I have these in hand as well, and assume I've thought through architecture considerations and know my data well and have a sense of number of pages, navigation elements, sections, etc.

As web designers, when you sit down to create a website design, what do you actually do at the computer? Or beforehand if applicable?
3:44 pm on June 25, 2016 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator not2easy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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For me the site's theme should align with the palette, the color scheme for the site. Before you could get going on a concept there should be a general goal of what you want to convey. Colors, fonts and layout then work toward that goal.

Adobe used to have a tool where users contributed their palettes, called kuler; that old bookmark now redirects to [color.adobe.com...] and it helps a lot when you are trying to set the overall "message" of a site to have an appropriate set of colors for the overall design.

To me, the start of a site is the visualization of where you want it to end up, who is your audience, what shows them they have come to the right place. From there, colors, fonts and layout have their direction.
12:31 pm on June 26, 2016 (gmt 0)

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To me, the start of a site is the visualization of where you want it to end up, who is your audience, what shows them they have come to the right place.

When you visualize a site, do you start with the homepage? Usually when I'm thinking about functionality, I start with the most "detailed" page - so on an e-commerce site, I'm thinking about an individual product page first, because that page will largely define what data and programming will be required.
3:13 pm on June 26, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I think it is a mistake to expect traffic to come in the front door, so the homepage is more of a catch-all that carries on the look and feel of the rest of the site, like a crossroads directory to the major points of interest.

It occurred to me after I posted my first thoughts that it might not have been answering the question you were asking. Before you get to the look and feel, there would need to be the underlying platform or framework of the site which would depend on the purpose of the site. What is the site expected to accomplish? An ecommerce site would have different priorities and considerations than a gardening blog, obviously. :)

I think that the most important consideration is to have a complete understanding of the purpose of the entire project before anything. I've been part of situations where it evolves and morphs at each step and that is horrible - the more people working on it, the more horrible it gets.
12:20 am on June 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I don't use "tools" other than a basic text editor & image creator (GIMP.)

After I've researched my niche... I take a few sheets of paper and use a pencil to sketch several designs that will accomplish what I want to do with the new website. For the last couple years I've included sketches for tablet and a couple for phones.

I look at these for a few days, maybe weeks, comparing them to other website designs I see in my niche.

Then I start with a blank text file and start typing, developing the architecture: theme, logo, content area, navigation, ads (if any)

Then I start writing articles, gathering info, etc.

Lastly, I add images & icons.
 

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