A fraction of an inch makes all the difference!

Wherever you stand on the "Size matters" debate, in the field of web design and development, we all agree that inches, or more appropriately, a fraction of an inch - or a few pixels can make the difference. Don't take just our word for it; have a look at the video on the right about a New York subway station and see how a few inches can make the wrong (and expensive) impact.

As most of us know that when you are talking "size" in the digital realm, you are really talking about Pixels! These are the building blocks of any image, and in web design, the manipulation (or for a better word) control of these pixels is the unique skill that makes every web designer's day interesting.

When thinking of designers, words that come to mind are - creative, imaginative, inspiring! The influential Bruce Archer, Professor of Design Research at Royal College of Art once wrote, "Design is that area of human experience, skill and knowledge which is concerned with man's ability to mould his environment to suit his material and spiritual needs". Design is therefore very emotional, very subjective and happens to form a key focus of most digital projects.

The question "When can we see the graphical design?" is a very common and expected question. We understand exactly why our clients and prospects ask this - it's something tangible, the direct reflection of the ideas and inspiration that showcase the core values of the brand. It's the ultimate sign-off that this is what we want to build.

Although we appreciate the importance of the Design stage of the project, we always want to highlight that the most important phase is actually the Discovery and Information Architecture phase. Yes it's not as exciting as the design, but it's at this stage of the project that you identify the true objectives of the website or portal and how to achieve them. It's at this stage that most projects either succeed or fail.

We at Indivirtual like to use an analogy - If you were building a house (wait - let's dream big, a Hollywood Mansion), would you first get the interior designer in and discuss all the colours and fabric schemes? Or would you call the architect?

Certainly, if common sense prevails, and utilising the budget and time is one of the objectives, you would get a recommended architect in first, right? Among the various topics, you would certainly discuss: The number of rooms, the purpose and size of each room, how they will be strategically placed in relation to the kitchen and bathrooms, the mega-games room conveniently located between the garage and fully decked home cinema and last but not least, let's not forget the walk-in dresser for all those shoes and fancy suits. All of this, and more, after deliberation and careful thought and miniscule measurement, your architect would display in an easy to understand blueprint. This blueprint forms the basis of all your future interactions with the Construction Team, Interior Designers, Landscaping and even Professional Home Security. Better start saving!

Translate this into a digital project! Can you see the connections? How does a user arrive at the site or portal, what's the purpose of their visit, where do they want to get to and what is the fastest way for them to get to that checkout or to download that image from the media centre. What security requirements would they need to pass? How can they get from content to your office location? Let's not forget, your website serves a purpose and the visitor has an end goal.

Industry best practice dictates that only after the Discovery phase and during the Information Architecture phase can a wireframe prototype be created. This prototype works in the same way and offers the same benefits to all the teams working on your project in the same way a blueprint for that Hollywood mansion would.

Take away the pretty pictures, and create a structure around that purpose. Once you have that blueprint in hand, the designer knows exactly what the boundaries are and how to conceptualise that inspiration around them.

Progress made from wireframe to design

Simply put, conceptualise your structure before you even start designing, let alone building. It will always save you time and money in the long run! Another point to remember is that although everyone wants to be unique and different in their own way, users are accustomed to certain common user habits online and if you decide to go radical and change it around from what they would normally expect, you could end up tripping them up.

Oh yeah, and going back to the New York Subway Video, last we heard they have fixed the problem, but only after they shut the whole staircase down. You wouldn't want to do that to your website.

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