Many designers say they’re the most effective when they spend most of their time on design, not implementation. But your clients want working sites, not paintings (i.e., Photoshop files) of them. There’s a lot of technology involved in translating your design into a working, modern web site.
Once you have your site coded, you need to choose how those coded web pages are going to be delivered. The first fork in the road is to choose between static web site and a content management system (CMS).
When you're ready to turn your beautiful design into a live, functioning web site, you need to tread carefully. While many different paths will lead to a site that looks more or less the same, the maintainability may vary dramatically, as may the browser compatibility and accessibility. In this article, we explore coding issues.
Information architecture is a big topic. However you are building sites, it's essential to think deeply and clearly about how best to organize a site's content. If the site is a simple brochure site, then there may not be much to think about, but the more content a site has, the more important it is to invest effort in this area.
One of the most fundamental differences between designing for the web and designing for print is that there is little predicability in how your web design will be viewed. In print, you at least have control over what size paper your design is printed on. On the web, the same site may be viewed on a mobile phone, a netbook, an iPad, or a 30-inch monitor. That means you don't have any idea how big things are going to be, or where the edges are.
When you design a web site in Photoshop, there's a disconnect between the tool you are using and the medium you are designing for. Although it has evolved somewhat, Photoshop was created for non-interactive design, and for a publishing medium that mapped quite directly from Photoshop screen to printed page. When you're designing for the web, there's big differences.
Readers of books expect to find a table of contents and page numbers to help them navigate. Viewers of web sites expect to find headers, footers, and persistent navigation. If you don't provide it, you significantly increase the chances visitors will get lost, or frustrated, and give up.
If you're a graphic designer whose background has been mostly in print, there's a few things we can guess about you: You are much more comfortable and productive in Photoshop than in Dreaweaver or other web tools; you feel overwhelmed by all the technology details that assault you when you need to turn your designs into web sites; and more and more, web sites are what your clients are asking for. If this sounds like you, then finding an effective path to turn your designs into quality web sites could significantly advance your career.