Like prototyping, we've written about designing for the web before (Web Design Tips for the Print Designer, Part 1 and Part 2). Without going into much detail on how design works, I do want to focus in on a couple of key points.
Design is a subjective process, which means it is difficult to know at the outset how long it will take to be completed. Depending upon how close the first layouts come to your client's expectations, subsequent rounds of revisions could go on as long as, if not longer than, the prototyping phase. When we do the visual design for a web development project, we try to follow a "narrowing funnel" approach by making the big decisions first, then proceeding to refine details until the design is resolved. This helps to keep the design phase in budget, as starting over from scratch several weeks in could be cost prohibitive.
Like prototyping, this process requires a lot of involvement from our clients. However, we find that the more information we can get our designers at the start, the more effective and efficient our design process is, not to mention the better the final design itself is.
Once the prototype has been approved, our developers can go to work on building the actual website. This means a bit of a break for our clients in terms of day to day involvement with us, which means it's a great time to start gathering and creating content in anticipation for content entry.
Last month, I wrote about how important it is to dedicate time and resources to website content creation. This true for websites in development just as it is for ones that are already live. Because we have already gone through the prototyping phase, our clients should have a very good idea as to the kinds and volume of content that needs to be created. However, chances are that the time needed to do this work has been vastly underestimated. While using a content management system, like our NewfangledCMS, makes content entry easier, it does little to simplify content creation. It takes good old-fashioned hard work, plenty of strategic thought, and probably more than one person to create content. Take my word for it- this always takes longer than anyone thinks.