Monday, August 30, 2010

The difficulty of Web design

We've been crafting the website for around two months, now. Wow!

It's now in the third (and final) iteration and will be released in a week.

While I'm personally to be blamed for most of the delay, there's something deeper in the process to learn from. And something that applies to wider field than mere web design. Let's see...

To get the design "right" one has at least three areas to consider.

1. Layout
2. Contents
3. Visual look

Now, the challenge is these really do tie together. What if you don't know any of them at first? Where to begin?

Writing the "stuff" (contents) is a valid start, but it easily becomes a book, not a website. Starting with layout without much of a clue on the contents is equally a bad idea. The end result will be one of the many websites looking *exactly* alike. Side bar. Pulldown menus. Boooooring.

Visual look. We kind of did start with this. Still, it only gives colors and maybe fonts. It needs layout and contents to make sense.

So essentially we have a mutual dependency between all of these and therefore must develop them together, iteratively.

In the first (and second) iterations we were trying to make a simply layout. I didn't want menu levels. I wanted something where one does not get lost; a site that you know you've fully covered. That's cool with videos, btw. They have a start and an end. Unless you're into the "extras" you know that you've seen a movie. Not so with websites (usually).

We had a banner header. Everyone has, right. Iteration 3 doesn't. It looks more like the Chrome browser. But see for yourself.

What I intended to write on the blog is that the same dilemma is there also in city/transport/building design. City is the layout. Transport is the contents (what fills the streets). Buildings are the visual. It's difficult or impossible to plan only one of these, without hindsight to the other two.

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