Designing for the web

I recently did a small consulting “Web Design 101″ for a very good design shop in town. Their office is filled with senior designers who have worked on some of Portland’s best design. However, they knew that there were some things they still could learn about designing for the web, so I helped out with a small session. Below is the rough outline of my talk, if you’re curious.

Flash vs HTML

  • Not good or evil, but very different.
  • Should be used appropriately
  • Pros / Cons of each
    • HTML
    • Flash

Designing for the Web

  • The Book Metaphor
  • User expectations. They’re important
    • It may be boring, but they lead to successful sites
    • Choosing “design” over the user’s experience is bad design (even when it’s on brand)
  • Never make a user guess what’s behind a link
  • Never make a user guess what is and isn’t a link
  • When it’s ok to break norms
  • Don’t forget the audience

Where to start

  • Budget
    • Building a house
    • Discovery phases
    • Learning their budget and goals and finding solutions
    • “Sacrificing Cool”

User Experience

  • Who is the Primary audience for this site? The second? This must be identified very early.
  • What is the number one thing this site should accomplish/promote? The second?
  • What are the limits (budget, technology, existing platforms, etc.)
  • How often should it be updated? How will this be updated? Who will update it?

Build your site to those specs ONLY!


  • Leading the story/experience with the homepage
  • Crafting an experience for visitors who come from search engines and don’t enter via the homepage

Working with “Developers” or, anyone who’s not a designer

  • Many designers dismiss programmers as difficult
  • Not all non+designers are programmers
  • Producers, Information Architects, Strategy, etc.
  • Take their feedback. They spend all day using bad sites, their instincts are good.
  • Find out what the core of their feedback is, and find solutions.