- July 17, 2013
Common Mistakes in the Web Design Process
Designers aim to make every project a success, but there are several reasons why a finalized project doesn’t live up to expectations. Being aware of these pitfalls will help you to achieve the aims set out at the beginning of the design project.
Web designers sometimes take on assumptions about the user. We think we can predict the behavior of website visitors because we understand their wants and needs. We also read into information supplied by the business commissioning the website and arrive at the wrong conclusions. If a specification is ambiguous, we will sooner draw on our assumptions than check with the client.
Incorrect assumptions can greatly affect the success of a design, so what can you do to avoid missing the mark? Ensure that you have done your homework: research the intended user and draw up a user profile. Customer service representatives, working for your client, can provide the information you are looking for. Alternatively, call up previous customers yourself to check that your assumptions are right.
Ignoring User-centered Design
It is natural to design something that you yourself feel comfortable with. Many web designers find it difficult to put their own tastes and preferences aside when working on a project. However, the user is the most important person involved in a web design project. The user must be at the center of every stage of the design process.
Remind yourself that you are not the intended audience of this particular website, and let your user profile inspire every decision you make. Have users try out the design before final implementation if testing is possible within the budget of the project. User testing can save you a lot of headaches, and your client a lot of money, later on.
A successful design project starts with a clear briefing. There is no room for misunderstanding or ambiguity. If you start your design based on a misinterpretation of what was said in the briefing, you are headed for disaster. After the initial briefing, draw up a representation of the project in your own words. Send this to the client to make sure you are both on the same page.
You can also take notes any time you talk to your client on the phone. Then you can summarize what was said and follow up with an email containing the gist of the communication. That way the client can react if something is amiss.
In situations where many people are working together on one project, some designers find they struggle with not having enough control. When you feel you can’t control the direction of the project, it can lead to you shirking your responsibility instead of standing your ground during group discussions. When this happens, remind yourself that the ultimate judge of your design is the user, and the final goal is a successful design that you can add to your portfolio.
You can talk more confidently and be more persuasive when you are behind the design 100%, so make sure that you can defend your design choices and that the design is well thought out. A demonstration of enthusiasm and knowledge can help you to gain more influence during the project.
A web design project can only be successful when it fully meets the needs of the intended audience. As a web designer it is part of your job to defend those needs. Paying extra attention to potential misunderstandings during the process of the project will result in a better outcome for both your client and your client’s customers.