Website Creation Workflow is Broken—But There’s a Fix For That
November 30, 2016
Are you surprised when in the world of 4K displays and a myriad of design tools you continue to come across gazillions of outdated and tired-looking websites? Sometimes even owned by world-famous brands? Huge companies might have huge financial resources, but time is what very few of their teams have.
Time is indeed our most valuable commodity, and yet with all of the abundance of technology even a simple website can take months to create. From a designer’s point of view website creation workflow is broken, so let’s break down the case for this claim, and then examine how new technologies can help fix that.
Firstly, what does the web design workflow look like at the present moment? Designers design something, give it to developers, developers take their time to develop and send back to the designer for changes and comments. Depending on how many changes are needed, the back and forth can take weeks.
Development is a big, expensive endeavor. It’s like getting married – it costs a lot and it’s a serious commitment. At the point when development begins, the team may think this creative is the final creative. But we all know that’s rarely the case. Despite our best scheduling efforts, things often don’t go exactly as planned. For some reason, once a design is actually in the browser, just about to go live, people see things they never saw before. They have ideas that they didn’t think of last week. They feel less sure about their messaging choices and want to make last minute edits. It’s just the way it is.
Take the first draft as an example. When it’s finally presented, the client usually asks for more changes—different fonts, images, etc.
The designer puts a new mockup together only to hear “it’s impossible!” from the developer. Imagine an artist who envisions a painting, but only has a pencil to draw the outline and needs to rely on someone else with a set of paints to complete the artist’s vision?
Until recently the situation was similar with the websites. A designer would sketch a draft and then go through at least these 5 steps:
– send the Photoshop file to developers and wait for them to prioritize the project;
– wait a few days (or weeks!) while developers are coding and implementing all of the elements in a website;
– get a URL back to review and potentially discover the draft doesn’t match the initial vision;
– wait for the client’s feedback;
– get the feedback with additional changes that often turn the designer into a middle man who negotiates the extra work with the developer.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The problem is, designers and developers have very different eyes and speak different languages, so a lot can be lost in translation. For a designer, it’s about aesthetics and usability. For developers, functionality and how the design actually works from a technological perspective matter most.
Designers often don’t have an understanding of CSS, HTML and other tools for executing the vision on the web. So, designers envision something that actually doesn’t work on the web, and developers have to sacrifice design in some way to simply make websites functional. The new iteration can lead to tensions over why the site came out differently than expected.
Let me paint a different picture now: imagine a code-free environment where designers can create an actual website from the very beginning in a way that works for the web, with responsiveness in mind. With a code-free website platform designers simply don’t need to understand the limitations of HTML and CSS. They can design right into the browser in real time and implement all of the changes in a working prototype that can be pushed live with a couple clicks of the mouse.
Besides, reviewing a working prototype is a completely different experience for a client. Very often the client would have a lot more feedback on the working website in comparison with the earlier flat mockup simply because there is visibility not only on how the website will look, but also all of it functionality from the very beginning. Communicating the user experience and interaction is just as important to the design process as conveying the look and feel.
The key takeaway is this: empowering a designer with a natural workflow in a code-free environment means lots of creative (and financial) value in the form of time savings and collaboration opportunities.
A designer gets to start working on their vision immediately, try a bunch of different things and see the results without having to rely on someone else (which always slows the process down and costs a lot of money). Their browser becomes their canvas, and they can implement ideas immediately and perfect them on the go.
Being a designer myself, I know how good it feels to see your ideas come to life immediately instead of waiting weeks. Your design tools should always enhance your creative process – the tools you choose to use should feel invisible allowing you to keep the focus being on the actual design work.
There will always be different rounds of work and user testing, but design and production stages are already radically changing with code-free platforms. They make web design accessible, allow designers to have full control over their creative vision and quickly execute their ideas into real, live websites. This not only makes the design process so much more rewarding, but also improves communication with teams or clients.
Ashley Rocha is Creative Director for Brandcast, the first code-free website platform enabling creative freedom in the enterprise. Brandcast empowers designers and marketers to create and publish beautiful, mobile-ready websites with unprecedented ease, speed, scale and control.