All about web design

Good web design is a key ingredient in any successful website, but how do we achieve this and how does it fit in with the technical build of a site? Our web designer, George takes us through his process:

Design and development are two different things

When people ask me about my job, they often assume that I’m a ‘coder’. I’m not! I’m a web designer. In a nutshell, I bring to life an organisation/product/service through design for a website or app. The coding happens in the development of the website or app - the technical build to deliver particular functionality and depending on the brief, enable the user to undertake certain tasks such as make a booking or a purchase.

How do I go about designing a new site?

It’s always really exciting to create the design for a brand-new site. The possibilities are huge so it’s important that I follow a process which ensures that I explore all avenues, whilst being mindful of the brief, the budget and the timings.

My first step is to spend time talking to the client to understand what it is they want to achieve with their website or app. This stage is holistic, with the development team and I explore the brief with the client to understand the full scope of what is required. My job is to come away from this first step understanding the story the client wants to tell through design, the objectives, brand guidelines, any particular likes or dislikes, typography etc.

Deep dive

My next job is to immerse myself. I research the industry and the sector that I’m working with to understand the key players and any market trends. I explore the history of the organisation and understand who its customers are as well as its competitors. I will read, watch, listen, visit and consume as much as I can within the field I’m working within and then take time to process what I’ve learned.

The ideas start to flow

Once I’ve taken a day or two to absorb everything, I find that the ideas start to flow. I start by drawing up different creative routes, capturing all my ideas on paper to work them through. I then move on to my computer and develop the routes that I think best meet the brief. I use Figma and/or Adobe XD and typically work up two routes which take very different creative angles, designing a homepage and several other key pages and showing how the design will look on a mobile site.

Presenting the ideas

Presenting my ideas to the client is a really energising stage of the project. Bringing to life their brief in a visual prototype and seeing their reaction never fails to give my day a real boost. I always take time to explain how I arrived at the different ideas, what inspired me and why I chose particular colours or typefaces, I recommend imagery and how content can flow through certain pages and explain how the design meets their objectives.

Feedback on which route is preferred is usually instant at this stage and tweaks and adaptations are made over a number of days or weeks until we reach a final, approved design.

How does design fit with development?

From the initial brief, the development team are simultaneously working on a recommendation to meet the technical needs and functionality of the site. Once my design has been approved, I create the design for each page type across the site, working closely with the developers to ensure that every aspect has been covered.

Incremental can be best

Incremental design and development is becoming more widely used and is a useful way of approaching larger projects. Essentially, you take a challenge or problem and break it down into chunks, working on the design solution for one chunk and building the functionality solution for that same chunk before moving on to the next piece. It’s a process of continual iteration and improvement and can work well with complex projects which require the need to work across teams and can involve working ‘live’ on-screen, developing and designing in collaboration with the client.

Are you looking to launch a new website or app in 2024?

Is your current website at the end of its life? Is it looking tired, or not delivering what you need for your organisation? Or perhaps you are a new business looking to build a digital presence. We can help.

Who are we?

We are Olamalu, Drupal experts and experienced web developers. We’re a friendly and down-to-earth team based in West Oxfordshire, who work together to achieve brilliant outcomes. We’ve been developing websites and designing tailor-made tech solutions for a huge range of different challenges for over 10 years. 

We work with many of our clients as an ongoing technical partner, but we also offer a consultancy service to solve a specific strategic challenge.

February 2024