A friend of mine emailed me recently to ask for advice on how to begin a large-scale project.
Oh, how does one email a response to such a question? I didn’t know so I just took two minutes and began typing out this list. It’s in no way comprehensive, or appropriate for every project, but I thought it might be valuable to share here.
- This is a big undertaking, try to steer the client to the 2 or 3 main purposes of the site. Don’t allow them to cater to every possible use case.
- With every new feature or change, ask yourself if it helps towards the 2 objectives above
- These things that are important to them, they’ll want them high on the page. You can do better than that. How can you make them the most fun/surprising part of the site experience?
- Dedicate sections (probably homepage and landing pages) for rolling brand/product stories. When they launch a new product, they will want people to know about it.
- Use real content in your comps.
- Work out the tone of the copy in your comps. Take this very seriously as it will help the entire project succeed.
- Re-use as many styles as possible without dumbing down the page. This will help design, tech, and usability of the site.
- I try to use three fonts (including weights) or fewer. Only add another font if it will be heavily used throughout the site.
- Be sure the fonts are different enough from each other either in weight or style
- If you are making something that is highly interactive, show a prototype. This will help explain your idea as well as prove to the team it can be done. (or you realize it was too lofty an idea)
- Steer away from visual trends happening right now as much as possible.
- Think contrast. Big/small, bright/dark, thin/heavy, many/few…
- Don’t waste too much time looking for inspiration. Sketch ideas on paper or just start making something.
- Save versions. I use the naming convention: FileName001a.psd and change the letter at the end as it progresses (FileName001b.psd and so on…). But once I make a drastic change move the number up: File_Name002a.psd
- If it’s in the comp, the client is going to assume you are suggesting they do it. If you leave it out of the comp, they are assuming you are nixing it. Have a reason for everything you do.
- Be confident in your presentations, you are the designer.
- Present in person when possible. If not, walk them through your work over the phone.
- When walking thru your work, keep it high level. They will know right away if it looks good or not, what they want to know is why it is the way it is. The purpose. The brand. What it’s communicating. Those sorts of things.
I hope this list helps you or at least gets you thinking about how your own list of things. Every project is different, and we all approach them differently. If you have a list, please share it with me.