Feb 14, 2014 A Quiet Revolution in Design
Expressing a firm’s vision and brand through a memorable, consistent design is as important as ever. But the way to achieve this is changing. The mobile revolution is transforming not only how users experience the Web, but the design process itself: the new state of the art is a more organic, agile approach.
In the old days—just a few years ago—the designer would begin the process by creating complete mockups of print ads, flyers, electronic newsletters, and website screens. For the websites, the technical team would then translate the designer’s static Photoshop documents into HTML and CSS, pixel for pixel. The designer knew from the outset how the final product would look in each user’s browser, because users all had relatively similar devices.
Today, all the different devices being used to access the Web—smartphones, laptops, tablets, phablets—make it impractical for the designer to create a separate mockup for every form factor.
Instead, the designer and the technical team collaborate throughout an iterative process. First, the designer works with the programmers to devise a responsive prototype that maintains the right look and feel in multiple screen layouts. Then the team refines the prototype with the designer’s ongoing input, making sure that it’s compatible with the full range of devices and that it showcases branding elements well on all of them. The result is a website whose appearance grows into its final, flexible form under the designer’s watchful eye.
This new approach to design and development makes the project manager’s role even more important. He needs to be an “artist and scientist,” with both a good eye for design and a strong understanding of responsive programming.