This week’s reading from Jeremy Boggs, http://clioweb.org/2008/06/04/part-three-design-process/, and Brian Miller , Introduction and chapters 1-3 in Above the Fold: Understanding the Principles of Successful Web Site Design, address design principles and guidelines.
Boggs’ article covers the process of researching, developing and creating the design of a web site. He employs a rather methodical approach of working through the process from brainstorming and doing research, to creating a concept, and then creating a mockup. I particularly like his advice to develop a concept in response to a specific problem. That concept will inform every design choice and will help in explaining those choices to other members of the project team, the boss or the client. His other advice about preparing a brief; understanding the need to choose options that provide the best solutions over one’s favorite options; and being diplomatic and positive with feedback is really good advice in general for anyone working on a project.
The chapters from Miller’s book cover some of the technical restraints of web design and standards of good layout. He also stresses the importance of making a plan and having backup choices in case preferred options are not possible, which is also good advice for someone working on a project.
For me, this all points to the importance of making a plan. You need to know what you want to do and what problems you need to address in order to make informed choices that solve those problems. When it comes to the design of my blog, I’ll admit I didn’t have any sort of plan. In something of a panic, I chose a design that I found visually appealing and looked easy to work with. But I’m finding that it’s a design that doesn’t work all that well. I want to change the header to include the ‘log in’ rather than having to scroll through all the blog posts to find it at the bottom. I’ll add a sidebar with a table of contents. I’d like to have each post on a different page if possible, rather than having to scroll through all of them. And I need to find a different font and font size to put more of each post onto the screen and makes it more readable. These are changes that are not possible in my current blog template, so I’m going to have to find a new one that lets me make more choices and addresses these needs.