Web Design for Print Designers, pt. 3

Radiolab

[This is part 3 of a 3-part series]

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

This was originally a video (included below), and these words suplement and distill what I say in the video.
This series was originally inspired by a video, which you can see here:
Web Design for Print Designers — Videos.

Design Process

There’s a common web design process whereby a designer goes into her or his private place, works in Photoshop, and comes up with a series of comps. Then, s(he) gives these over to a developer or someone, who codes them into CSS/HTML/WordPress, etc.

This process probably parallels a designer producing work to give to a printer. But it leaves out a lot of magic that is possible in the web, or turns it into an afterthought.

My experience tells me that unless the web designer can integrate these things into her process, this will continue. By the time she’s turned her work over to be “coded,” it’s too late, unless we think of things differently.

The truth is, there are probably ways in which Photoshop is still a good design tool just because it doesn’t limit you to what’s “easy” on a web page; but then, it’s very limiting, because it puts off the specification of dynamic elements for way too long.

Furthermore, specifying type in Photoshop makes no sense at all—you need to do this using CSS and real browsers.

Also, in my experience, things like fine rules (see http://www.good.is again), are a bitch to render in Photoshop, and even in other tools, they’re not really going to look the same as they do in a web page. Note the use here of dotted rules (a CSS option), for example. Why take forever in Photoshop (or Illustrator) trying to make it look like it’s going to look in the browser?

The alternative—I think—is going to have to be a process where you do  part of your work in a tool like Photoshop, and part of your work in HTML and CSS. (If you don’t know how to use these tools, maybe you should learn, or work with someone who does.)

Furthermore, web designers—who are generally very visual—should generally work with someone else, playing the information architect role, whose job it is to think about the arrangement of the verbal information, and the navigation. (In conjunction with the designer, of course.)

Furthermore—this is something outside the scope of this article, but I have to say it—because many clients come straight to a designer as the point person to produce their website, and many designers don’t really know about marketing, the designer should really work in conjunction with a marketing person,always. (Unless, perhaps the client really and truly does not desire to get traffic from the site, or already has a marketing department and plan—in which case the designer should be working with that department.)

What do you think?

What is your experience as a designer? As a developer? What do you think? Tell me below:

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Chris