In my case, I am planning to design how a website looks; I am a bit of a newbie. I’d love to learn 🙂
Are there any books that I can refer to?
So for something like website design, the first step is research which has two main sides to it: understanding the purpose of the design, and understanding the client and/or the brief. The first is the most important for the site being a success. The last is most important for making sure you get paid!
For the purpose, it comes down to two main aspects:
- Usability and architecture. This might be someone else’s job. If not, it’s a matter of working out what the key goals and routes through the site are. Find out the range of audiences for the site, and what these people want. Then, your design should be tailored around making these clear, easy, intuitive and obvious.
- Branding. The site should get across the brand personality of the client. They might already have a clear visual brand, in which case, study that, study their competitors, understand how they want this site to be seen, make mood boards, and come up with ideas. If they don’t, and creating a visual brand is part of the job, that’s a whole separate question (also, bill accordingly!).
For the client, there might be an account manager who’s in charge of making you understand the client’s needs and making the client understand why your designs are a good idea.
If there isn’t, this comes down to people skills. Ask questions, get them to show you examples of what they like and have them explain why they like it, and get lots of feedback at every step. No matter how small the job, get a proper brief written up and signed (you’ll probably need to help them write this up unless they’ve got an experienced design account manager), and a contract which gives you room to charge more if they go against the agreed brief and change their mind about what they want mid-project. Make sure they understand that idea development is as much a part of the work as the final finished product.
Your ability to get them to sign off a design (and then sign off your cheque) will depend on how well you understand what they want, so really get inside their head.
When you’ve done this, you should have a crystal clear idea of what you’re doing and why, and ideas should come naturally. Develop several ideas – don’t just go with the first one you like, compete with yourself trying to beat your last favourite idea. Test often, and get other people’s feedback often (especially from the client).
Also, keep in mind this classic diagram of the creative process from Daniel Newman:
Finishing making the thing is the easy bit.