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GET PRO DESIGN SKILLS Layout is one of the most important aspects of the web and applications. We need to consider a number of different things from the target audience to the brand and the content. Get it wrong and your users will get confused and leave to find the information elsewhere. Here we take you though every aspect of the process, from the initial inception of the project through to building and structuring the code, and touch on which display properties you should use. 62 __________________________________________________feature

GET PRO DESIGN SKILLS DESIGNING LAYOUTS The Design phase of a project typically includes a number of processes This image shows the design process for the Baltic Training website, from initial sketches through wireframes and design to the final live website THE PROCESS The design phase of a project usually begins with a scoping document of some description. This document will contain a specification of what you’re designing. The starting point for designing layouts really depends on the complexity of the project: Brochure websites — for example — will usually use a fairly simple design phase and usually include the following processes: content gathering -> site map creation -> wireframing -> high-fidelity concept design. Whereas a more complex web app design phase might include a few extra processes: gathering content -> site map creation -> wireframing -> low-fidelity prototype -> high-fidelity concept design -> highfidelity prototype. There’s no right or wrong way to do this and different designers use different processes. It’s up to you — as the designer — to find the right process for the project at hand. This may also be dictated by the project’s budget, when this is the case you need to decide which of these processes are the most important for the project you’re working on. HIGH- VS LOW-FIDELITY In the process diagrams explained above they mention both high- and low-fidelity designs and prototypes — this simply is how far you go with the design. A low-fidelity prototype, for example, is usually made up from the elements in the wireframes; whereas a low-fidelity design may be slightly more designed than the wireframe you might use for the project’s brand colours and fonts. APPLYING THE BRAND This includes obvious things such as the logo and colours and typography, but also everything else that comes with it: the language; the intent (is it playfulorcorporate?Isitconfident and loud?); any printed materials; and anything the company has that ELEMENTS AND RULES ARE USUALLY REPRESENTED BY THE BRAND GUIDELINES represents them. This will help you understand how to display the content on the screen. These elements and rules are usually represented by the brand guidelines document — if you have one, be sure to study it! Once you understand the brand you can look for ways to apply it to your design — are there any brand elements you can use, such as shapes or patterns? Are there any ways to use what you know about the brand to influence the layout and design of your project? These details are what will give the design meaning and help cement the brand into the company’s DNA. For a lot of users the website will be the first time they see the brand and, since youdon’tgettomakeafirst impression twice, you need to get this right! Besides, being on-brand should help keep the client happy too, and that’s always good! STRUCTURING THE DATA You can use the wireframing stage of the design in order to work out the content that needs to be structured. It’s always best to get the content before you start the high-fidelity design stage, in the real world this very rarely happens, but it’s much easier to design something when you know what information you need to include. Once you know the content of the page you can start to structure the data by breaking it down into sections or chunks. Depending on the quality of the content this can be a really simple or a really difficult thing to do. It’s important to keep linked information together so you don’t confuse the user, but you can use these sections or chunks of content to influence the type of layout you’re going to create. SITEMAPS Visual Sitemaps Anecessarypartofthedesign. They tell everyone involved in a projectwhatpagesaregoingto be in the project and how they are going to be linked together. You can simply draw these on paperorcreatethemusinga graphics editor, you could use MicrosoftWordorevenExcelfor that matter. The idea here is to structurethedatafortheproject. There are a number of tools builtspecificallyforcreating sitemaps, such as Slickplan, MindNode and WriteMaps. XML Sitemaps Thesearecreatedoncethe projecthasfinished,andareused by search engines to index your project’s contents and structure. Whiletheycanbecreatedby hand, there are a number of tools available for generating sitemaps — the tool you need will depend on your project. If you’re using WordPress as the backend you can use a plugin to generate the XML sitemap. Once created you need to submit the sitemap to the search engines using their webmaster tools. feature _________________________________________________63