Two useful resources when planning Web projects

Web ReDesign 2.0

20110823-webredesign20

A few years ago I came across this really excellent book by Kelly Goto and Emily Cotler: Web ReDesign 2.0: Workflow that Works (New Riders, 2005).

In 10 chapters Kelly and Emily lead you through the workflow of a complete website redesign. They break the process down into five phases:

  1. Define the project.
  2. Develop site structure.
  3. Design visual interface.
  4. Build and integrate.
  5. Launch and beyond.

I’ve increasingly found this framework to be really useful, not only for website redesigns but for developing new sites too. I now think in terms of five phases for most Web-related projects that I work on. I’ve found it also provides a very simple overview for clients to help them understand where we are in the overall project lifecycle.

I now have the book sitting on my desk at all times, within easy reach. Their website also has a number of downloadable resources such as a client survey, tech check list, budget tracker, etc.

Web Design Sketchbook

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Another resource that I’m finding really useful particularly during phase 1 (define the project) is the Web Design Sketchbook from 37 Media.

The first nine pages contain questions to ask the client, which I’ve found really help you understand the project better. Questions such as:

  • What objectives are you trying to achieve with this site design / redesign?
  • What is the primary “action” the site visitor should take when coming to your site (e.g. make a purchase, become a member, search for information)?
  • If you could communicate only one message to visitors, what would it be?
  • What should users think or feel when they look at the design of you site?

The final page of questions includes a list of word pairs to help you determine the tone of the site, e.g.

  • conservative or progressive
  • cold or warm
  • spontaneous or orderly
  • trendy or classic

The second half of the book contains what they call “layout brainstorming pages with full browser chrome and grids to better plan how your site will look and operate when it’s finished”. A nifty idea.

You can order the sketchbook in two varieties (single project at US $12 or a full 104 page sketchbook for US $25) or you can download and print out the free version, which is released under a Creative Commons license.

Build your own

These resources have inspired us to build our own, drawing on resources from each as well as our own experience and requirements here at St Andrews. When we have I’ll post a link to it here.

What would you include in a Web project workbook?

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