One section I’ve noticed as I look at many sites for design firms is the process area. I have chosen not to dedicate any snazzy diagrams or bullet points to this on this site. There are a number of reasons for this and I may eventually add a big huge section on this for everyone to read over.
So why haven’t I got a snappy process like “Describe, Design, Develop, Deploy” or something equally alliterative? First off, I have found that process is not really so pithy as all that. So while it makes for a snappy title a real web design process has a ton of steps, a bunch of loops, and is insanely complicated for those who aren’t familiar with what you are doing. So that means I have the process that web designers (or whatever title you’re using) would understand and another one for everyone else. But that seems a bit wonky to me.
The point, and I seem to be saying this in my posts a lot of late, is not to say that we designers know way more than everyone else (though we should about web design), but rather to point out that every step in a process involves applying a wide variety of skills and techniques to properly get the work done. The process also should not be so straightforward as walking through a little diagram. Good design is almost always an iterative, complexeffort where many steps occur in tandem and they repeat at a variety of intervals.
Most designers will not nail everything the first time through. That means that you may be tweaking the navigation and labeling after your ‘Information Architecture’ phase and you may go back and decide to add a column long after your layout appeared done because there is some new content that needs a home. The point is that a simple 4 or 10 step process is not realistic and it is misleading to show something like that to non-designers. The problem is not in the ethics but in the expectations they will have for how things will happen if they work with you.
When I work with clients I try to explain that there will be some phases to the design process but that within each they should expect iterations of the designs and that there will be revisions that take place throughout the whole of the project no matter how well planned it is. I give them an overview of my work process and how they fit into it as content providers, editors, or in other roles.
But here’s a question, would anyone like to hear more about the details of a design process? The steps I go through from the initial meeting to the deployment of a site? If it will be of value to people I will be happy to share it. Would you rather see it written up for a client to help you better understand what is happening or for a designer to help with your own process? Speak up and I’ll take the time to put it up here.