Friday Afternoon Confessional - The Most Difficult Part of Web Design

There’s no arguing that better websites equal better business. At 51Blocks, we like to think of building a website like building a house, it’s never as easy as it seems! BUT, through the years, we’ve streamlined our process to make building a website as pain-free and enjoyable as possible, and it’s only getting better!
If you’ve ever dabbled in website design, you may be familiar with the challenges designers and developers face. Our particular challenges usually lie within the initial mock-up phase, where things can start to get a little muddy. Matching preferences, creating cohesive designs, and executing those items is not always point-and-shoot, but here are some things you can do to help to ensure that your vision is translated accordingly. To make the first steps easier, we’ve created a design checklist to walk through all elements of the mockup stage. Want to find out more? Give us a call at (303) 900-9119!



Anna: My name is Anna Ash, and I work for 51 Blocks. This is Sonya Gonzalez as well. We're going to talk today about why it can be so difficult to get mockups approved. I'm our website project manager. Sonya works a lot with websites as well. We oftentimes run into extreme difficulties in the design process in the early stages of website development. So I know for me, one of the biggest challenges is getting a client to understand the difference between a flat image and how it will look after we develop the site on our staging platform. Sonya, do you...?

Sonya: Yeah, and another thing that we run into constantly is the breakdown that goes into the original questionnaire leading up to what we actually design for the client. Oftentimes, clients don't specifically know what they want. They know what colors they want, what kind of schemes they want, and maybe some of the layouts, but not necessarily how it will look once it's put together. So, sometimes we run into the issue of, "Well, that's not quite what I wanted," But yet we've matched everything that they requested, so there's kind of a breakdown that happens.

Anna: Yeah. We at 51 Blocks always described this process as like building a house. You can have a good vision, but it's really difficult to say yes, you're 100% satisfied. So one thing that we did to make this process a little more streamlined, and obviously we need to tailor it for each client, but initially we created a forum just through Google Forums, and that's to get the information we need up front to even start mockup one. So we walk through everything from, "What's your business information as you want it to appear on you website, and the header and footer, and all that good stuff?" to, "What are some sample sites you like? These are some sample sites we've built. Do you like any of these?" So that way we can get a general feel of what they're looking for.

Usually when I get that information back from the client, I set up a call and just walk through it with them step by step, because the more I understand about the way they want to present their business, the closer I can get the mockup to look. So that's just really opening up the lines of communication, I would say is the number one thing, to kind of accomplish their end goal, and that's talking about, "What elements do you like? What do you like about the navigation? What do you like about this image layout?"; that kind of stuff.

Sonya: So it definitely helps to become prepared, is what we're trying to get at. So if you have seen sites in the past that you've liked, feel free to share them with us. We can always use that information, and we can always facilitate that conversation once we have at least a basis for what your preferences are. And then in addition to that...we get this a lot. I don't know if this is a thing with a lot of people, but we add filler text to our mockups.

Anna: Most companies do. It's pretty common.

Sonya: And again, filler text is to fill the space up, so you can get an idea of what the text would look like once it's actually been filled. We know it's not English. It's actually in Latin, so no, we're going to change it.

Anna: Yeah, and that goes back to when we do mockups, it's just to get layout feel. The design elements, and not the text, so making that clear can be quite a challenge, surprisingly.

Sonya: Yeah, so visuals, colors.

Anna: Visuals. Yeah, just really emphasizing that it's just for layout instead. But what we did was create a kind of mockup checklist, I guess you can call it. I don't know, we haven't really named it at this point. But it's basically a list of all the elements that we're looking for; navigation, fonts, all of that kind of stuff, and it basically rates it from "like" to "love," basically on a scale of one to five, how much they like it, and a section for notes so we can walk through all those elements, take notes accordingly, and then make the proper adjustments to the mockup.

Sonya: Sure. And the final note that I'd like to add is just stay engaged. I know that this process can be somewhat grueling, but it's always good to just respond to emails, and answer calls as much as possible, because the quicker that we understand the, not only what you like, but also what you don't like, the quicker that we can deliver the product to you and get your business up and running on the web.

Anna: Okay. Well, if you guys have any questions about WordPress design, feel free to give us a call at 51 Blocks.

Sonya: Thank you, have a good one.

Anna: Happy Friday.

Sonya: Thank you.

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