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Design Process - Part 2

Having a good design process is essential to having a quality design when you are done. This is the first in a two part series on the design process and my thoughts on it. This entry will cover precedence, spacing, navigation and designing to build.

5. Typography
Text is the most common element of design, so it's not surprising that a lot of thought has gone into it. It's important to consider things like:

  • Font Choices
  • Font sizes
  • Spacing
  • Text Length
  • Color
  • Paragraphs

6. Usability
Web designs aren’t just about pretty pictures. With so much information and interaction to be effected on a website, it's important that you provide for it all. That means making your website design usable.

We've already discussed some aspects of usability - navigation, precedence, text - here are three more important ones:

Adhering to Standards
There are certain things people expect to be the same, site to site. For example, if text has an underline, you expect it to be a link. Doing otherwise is not good usability practice. Sure you can break some conventions, but most of your websites should do exactly what people expect them to do.

Think about user tasks
When a user comes to your site what are they actually trying to do? List out the different types of tasks people might do on a site, how they will achieve them, and how easy you want to make it for them. At the end of the day your web design is a tool for people to use, and the easier the tool is to use the better.

7. Alignment
Keeping things lined up is as important in web design as it is in print design. Aligning makes your design more ordered and digestible, as well making it seem more polished.

8. Clarity
Keeping your design crisp and sharp is super important in web design. And when it comes to clarity it's all about the pixels. To achieve a sharp design you have to:

  • Keep the edges of objects sharp. Make sure anti-alias is turned off.
  • Make sure any text is created using the appropriate anti-aliasing. Crisp or sharp is preferred.
  • Ensuring contrast is high so that borders are clearly defined
  • Over-emphasizing borders just slightly to exaggerate the contrast.

9. Consistency
Consistency means making everything match. Everything should be themed to make your design coherent between pages and on the same page.

Keeping your design consistent is about being professional. Inconsistencies in a design are like spelling mistakes in an essay. They just lower the perception of quality. Whatever your design looks like, keeping it consistent will always bring it up a notch. Even if it's a bad design, at least make it a consistent, bad design.

The simplest way to maintain consistency is to make early decisions and stick to them. With a really large site, however things can change in the design process but remember your first thoughts are normally the best.

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