My Web Design Challenge

Paul Boag

As web designers we like to complain that clients don’t “get it”. However, the truth is we suck at explaining our designs.

The guys over at smashing magazine asked me to write a post about my web design process. As I sat down to do this I found myself struggling to articulate what I do and why I do it. This got me thinking about how important it is that we are able to justify our design approach.

The reason smashing magazine asked me to write this post was because they had noticed how few existed on the design process. Sure, there are lots of tutorials about how to design a specific thing, but little on how to make decisions about design elements such as typography, whitespace, layout and colour.

Are you a sub conscious designer?

My suspicion is that most web designers don’t really consciously consider their design process. Instead they intuitively make decisions based on years of experience. Although this is a perfectly valid approach it does create a problem. If a client comes back and asks you to change the colour or alter the layout, it is hard to say no because you cannot justify your own approach. You know your right but he cannot explain why. This inevitably leads to frustration with the client, and a feeling that the client should just do what you suggest because you are the designer.

Unfortunately, playing the “designer card” is not enough to convince most clients. We need to learn to justify our designs and articulate them in a way that our clients can understand.

This train of thought led me to write a very different article from the one requested. Instead of just sharing my own design approach I have laid down a challenge that I would encourage you to take up.

Are you up for a challenge?

The premise is simple, write a blog post outlining your design approach for a particular project. Explain why you made the decisions you did and justify your approach. Once you have written the post, put it online and encourage others to challenge your decisions in the comments. Use these comments to force you to think more deeply about your approach and respond to each in turn.

You can get more details on the challenge and participate by viewing my post on Smashing Magazine entitled: Are you ready for a web design challenge.

You may also want to check out the comments and provide feedback to those who have taken up the challenge.