Being able to efficiently work and create an effective layout in Photoshop is only half of the battle to being a good web designer. If you’ve opened a blank Photoshop or Fireworks document and found yourself thinking: “Well, now what”, you’ll have already found this out. You may know your way around the program, you may know what layer styles and cool effects to use to make a stunning layout, but how do you go about creating an effective website in it? Where do you start? How do you know what to create? You start by first understanding exactly what you’re doing.
Understanding What You’re Creating
The very first thing you need to know is what you’re creating. You know you’re designing a website layout, but what exactly is a website? If you’re going to create websites, it’s a good idea to know what exactly the essence of a website really is! A website is a business’, person’s or organization’s personal thumbprint on the web. A website is part of the soul of this business, person or organization that is a key part of drawing in customers, wow-ing (or even intimidating) competitors and advancing their image. Never should the power of the website (or its contents) be underestimated! As a web designer or web artist (and web developers are always included in all of this, too,) you hold the very key that will help make or break this company, organization or individual!
While a website is all of those things, it is important to understand what a website shouldn’t be. A website shouldn’t be its own, floating entity. A website should be a clear extension of a company’s brand: their logo, their product, their philosophy, etc. Meaning: if a company already has a clear brand, than you should think of the website you are creating for them as their visual, web thumbprint of that brand. So, a website should follow in correlation with that brand, not be a floating brand all unto itself. To know more, contact a legit Canadian web hosting provider.
Let’s use Crayola as an example. What and who is Crayola? Crayola is a huge company that caters to children’s fun with crayons, colored pencils, etc. Usually, that and their yellow and green “brand” colors are some of the first things we think about when we think of Crayola. With this in mind, you probably wouldn’t design a white and blue, very corporate looking website for Crayola since they are already strongly branded with their yellow and green and, despite Crayola being a huge business, their clients probably don’t immediately think “shirt and tie corporate” when they think of them. It just wouldn’t work. If you were to create a very corporate looking, blue and white website for Crayola, that would be an example of creating a “floating brand website”. (Though I don’t know of that to be a widely used technical term, it’s the term you and I will use.)
When designing a website, the first thing you need to do is determine what their brand already is. Some companies will have PDFs or other electronic or hard-copied documents set aside by other designers or companies they have hired that determine and convey just what their brand already is. A brand can also be determined by a company or individual’s logo and what color(s) that logo uses.
Of course, you may not always be dealing with businesses that already have a clear brand. That’s not a problem! A brand should be a [strong] guideline for what a website should and shouldn’t have, if they have a brand. If you’re designing a website for a business or individual that doesn’t have a clear brand, you have to find another starting point. This is the big factor of where “thinking like a web designer” comes in!
Now that you know what a web site should and shouldn’t be, it will be easier for you to formulate questions and find answers to these questions to help think like a web designer. Formulating questions on what exactly a company’s or individual’s brand is, is the first step in creating a successful website for them.