Using a Web Design Process that is practical and relevant

Back in January I started to deliver a module on Web Design for first year computing students in IT Sligo. The B.Sc in Computing has streams for Software Development, Systems, Web Development and Gaming.

My aim for delivery of the 12 weeks was to try to give students a realistic view of the web design process – using examples and anecdotes from my day job at Electric Mill wherever possible.

Sometimes a process becomes intrinsically linked and indistinguishable from one of its headline, attention seeking components. For web design – this is always graphic design. Don’t get me wrong – the look and feel of the site is hugely important to the customer and the web designer.

Less tangible however and sometimes quite frustrating for the customer are the parts of the process which make a web design project ultimately successful : requirements gathering, information architecture, site map, content refinement and so on.

The thing is – I wanted my 12 week module to be relevant and as practical as possible (over at CookieWeb, Heidi mentions that very issue on how to keep web design up to date at 3rd Level – her article is here).

One might argue that outlining how to write an email to a customer detailing in-scope functionality, out of scope functionality and project assumptions is not directly related to a web design course – and you could be right. The opposite view is the one I took on this; If you are looking at a process – you need to consider it in the round  – and not just from one point of view.

Luckily though – any process that you are familiar with can also be tailored depending on the client and the project.  Take for example that phrase “Information Architecture” – absolutely no point in scaring (or boring) somebody with this term when instead you can replace it with something a bit more  reasonable like

We will help you organise the content and flow of your site/app to make it very easy for your customers to use.

Hopefully this view of being practical and relevant has been good for my students and customers alike. No doubt I will be quickly put straight if not!


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