About two years ago we started Bakker Labs to do front-end work. Soon though, we realised that even though there is very high demand for front-end development work, design work usually goes hand in hand with this. Especially when you have small clients who don’t have the money to also hire a separate designer. They want someone who can do all. Luckily we have the experience and background to do both. Here’s some thoughts of two years designing for different companies and our design process while working for them.
Design is never a linear or predictable process. Every situation is unique and everytime it requires going back and forth between design and code. It requires a lot of talking with the client to figure what wishes he exactly has, and more often than not the client has no clue. And while sometimes this is liberating, it can be incredibly frustrating as well. Most clients have no way of communicating design and require seeing things before they know what they like. It's in your and your clients interest if you figure this out as soon as possible.
They like to see something quickly and in real life. How detailed and accurately representing an actual website your designs are, an actual website makes all the difference to a client. For us this means we usually start coding at the same time we start designing. This makes designing much less creating a mockup of the website your going to make and more of a drawing board for separate elements within the final design.
This process may seem slow and all over the place at first, but once you get closer to being able to deliver the design you can speed up this process. Copying and pasting parts of the website. Design a new button and see how it looks. Coding it and on to the next element. It's super easy.
It’s more extreme with our own projects. We usually design halfway, start coding, start pushing it live and see what works or not. Set everything aside, and start over with the things you learned. For this website, and it's still a work in process, about 14 versions that never saw the light of day have been designed and coded. Usually you don’t have the time or the availability to experiment in this way because of, well, deadlines. But it’s good to do it every once in a while.