Web design is a process. It has a beginning, middle and an end, and skipping a step or cutting a corner will always show in the finished product. At the same time, the digital world never stops, and we could all use a little more time. Your site is meant to bring you potential customers, or to service current clients, so the sooner it’s ready to publish, the better. It’s a question of efficiency: how can you build the best possible website without spending months and months preparing it for launch?
There are a myriad of techniques and tools for making your work more efficient and keeping track of what you’ve done, what you’re working on and what comes next. But there are definitely a few tips and tricks that stand out above the rest.
While you’re in the beginning stages of the design process, you want to collect as much inspiration as you can find. One great way to do that brainstorming is to use an app like Evernote to collect examples of inspiration as you search the web. Evernote is free and lets you “clip” text and images, or even whole web pages. It’s a great way to collect the ideas you want to adapt for your own site, or articles on design (like this one!) you want to save for later reading or reference. It’s also very easy to share notes from Evernote, by clicking the little arrow at the top of a note to get a link. You can even share an entire notebook, allowing you to collaborate on your brainstorming if you’re part of a team.
There are more to-do lists and project tracking programs out there than anyone could ever possibly write about in one article, but designers, whether amateur or professional, have requirements many such tools simply can’t fill. However, there’s one that we find stands out above the rest in terms of organizing your workflow for extremely visual projects like designing your website. It’s called Trello.
Trello’s linear, image-friendly layout is a great way to track the progress of your web design project all in one place. Sure, it does to-do lists, but it also allows image cards, deadlines, team collaboration, commenting, and more. Unlike other task managers, it has great image integration, making it ideal for keep track of your web design efforts, and best of all, it’s free.
Mock-ups are superficial examples of your design, similar to prototypes except mock-ups are the finished design you chose above all the others. They are very useful in comparing different sections of your site to ensure cohesion. You can also use them to decide what assets, like copy, code snippets and graphics you have and which ones you’ll have to build or hire out. Finally, mock-ups are a great way to collect feedback from users on layout, readability and other aspects of your site that become more and more important as you move forward in implementing your design of choice.
You can read a good overview of mock-up software choices, some of which are free, at Mashable. Whatever tool you choose, the best way to find problems or inconsistencies in your design is to produce a no-frills, low-effort mock-up, so get to it!
These tools are great ways to make your web design work more manageable, saving time without sacrificing organization or quality in your final product.