Step Away from the Machine


Been doing an intense amount of hi-fi site design of late. Nothing wrong with that, I enjoy the creativity.

Being challenged to find the design, to produce a professional product within the bounds of the clients specifications. However moving through the process rapidly does allow you to focus on how you achieve your final outcome.

One thing I have learn over the years is to never jump right into photoshop. Regardless as to whether you have used mood boards or not, generally I don’t start the design process in photoshop or the like. I take it back old school, get out the sketch pad and paper. Walk away from the workstation, often outside and go design the site with pencils and paper.

So how do I move from paper to photoshop:

  1. Leveraging off the base wireframe (if I have one), I set about drawing about ten or so different design thumbnails of the pages. I use these to generate ideas very quickly, to just to see if they balance and work generally on the grid and in terms of spacial placement.
  2. From here I select the designs that are going to work. These are then expanded into half page lead pencil sketches, again nothing intense, just seeing if the design works in this low-fi version.
  3. Finally a few designs are drawn up in detail with aqualia coloured pencils. Again not in fine detail, just concepts, and block of colour to see if the design works.
  4. After all this the design is manually rebuild for client sign off in photoshop. In some cases I do this via a rough tablet trace or a simple scan, or just by eye, all depends on the design.

There is something freeing about working with paper. Don’t get me wrong I don’t work in a vacuum of ideas, I have my reference books and library at hand and will often go looking for inspiration. But of late the inspiration has not come from the online world, but the offline.

So what is your design process? How do you start the process? Straight onto the computer or do you go old school?

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