I thought it over, changed it around, used what I had, went from here to there and Bob’s your uncle. Bob’s your uncle is a British thing and I do not know what it means other than, there you go. Below is the working first page of Parker Payroll Services. Below that is a link to the work-in-progress site. I chose a very different and not typical style. I did it because I could and because more and more often I am seeing “new” design and concepts that either I or former colleagues did years ago. At the time we did them we were shot down as being too modern because of a, “I haven’t seen that before” mentality. So I designed what I liked, what I thought was user friendly and a bit atypical. You might not like it, you might think it is bad design. It is not, it is good design. It is different, not that much, useable yet simple. As many people that love curry an equal amount of people hate it. By the way, the bottom row doesn’t work and won’t take you to another page. Click the logo to go back home.
What I’m doing below is playing with ideas, processing them visually. I scanned a page from my sketchbook of ideas for my Parker Payroll site. There is a thread of ideas, some that don’t work, one that makes me go hmm and one still on the sketchbook page that I think I want to explore visually. There are two here I rather like though translating them to other pages on the web site may be a challenge. I am going to keep at it and see where it ends up. By the way, this is taking so long is because I am doing this around my paying gigs. The process is fun, I have the time to try out the silly, the bad, do some research for inspiration and examine my process in a way I never have before.
So there it is, my web page layout. (See last week’s post.) It’s fine. I like it. But I think I want something a little more well, more. I’ve noticed lately that I can look at web site and tell that they are Word Press sites. There’s beginning to be a format or style about them. It’s very nice, but not what, you, as a client, is going for. I have some thumbnails below (quick little sketches) that I did on the bus. They are a bit shaky but I was kind of musing. The final will likely not look much like any of these or maybe it will. That’s the process, you try lots of things and refine, refine, refine. You, as the client, don’t see all the process and refinement that goes into a design. That’s the reason I decided to step back and move slowly through the process. This project does not have deadline so I can mosey through my process and document it. So how am I going to do this? I’m going to think, draw on the bus, think while I’m running, I will pay attention to posters, book design, web designs, magazine layouts looking for inspiration. I will tear out pages, mark book pages and create a file of ideas. It’s a process. It’s my process. Some designers get instantly inspired after days of agonizing and others have methodology that works for them. I am some place in between. You’ll see how I find my way to the design that will become Parker Payroll Services web site.
Here is the first pass at the web page. This only represents the color scheme and the layout. I think I want to add a photo montage for the top of the page. You know something expected, remember I’m going for strong dependable and yes maybe not predictable certainly not surprising or unpredictable. Notice however, client sign-in. That’s where clients of Parker Payroll can sign-in and enter their payroll data safely and securely. When I really have it ready I will do a couple of pages and provide a link that will go to a mini site within my web site that will have linked pages providing a true user experience.
Karl Marx was not likely talking about web sites but I am. Don’t be tempted to go over board on a web site. Think. Think about what your audience wants to know, then give it to them. Web designs can do magical things. Check out the following:
Granted the first is out of this world. And the second is rather over the top but these are examples of what the web can do. And only the tip of the iceberg are these. Look, the point is make your web site what your customers need not what you want. Look at my web site, it has my portfolio and contact information and not much more. In my instance, anyone looking at it has already arranged to meet me or are thinking about contacting me. It gives my clients a chance to see if what I do will be a match to what they need. Another site I have done is Civic Square. This too is very simple. It tells potential clients about the principal’s expertise, and yes, the last name is the same as mine; look carefully you’ll see they are slightly co-branded.
For my example, Parker Payroll Services, my site will have a twofold purpose. One will tell potential clients about the services Parker Payroll Services offers and another part of the site will be for current customers. Next week I will show rough designs for a home page.
Phone, laptop, tabletop, tablet. Which device should your content (web site info) be available on? All of them? In order to decide you need to step inside your user’s shoes. Ask yourself how the user is coming to the information, is it via a smart phone, tablet, etc.? Let’s go through the process using Parker Payroll Services as the model and go through each device. Starting with a smart phone, what content would a user of Parker Payroll access using this device? A user may use it to check if paperwork has gone through and checks issued. That could be a valuable option. How about accessing forms to fill out payroll data for processing? Probably not so much but it could be conveniently done using a tablet on the go. The content available for a laptop or tabletop computer is the same but might include expanded features, such as a blog, that isn’t necessarily available on smaller devices. An important and over looked factor is how is the information presented. Content on a smart phone will scroll, put the important need to know content at the beginning. The important take away is think like a user of your services and try to meet that need. Last food for thought, what about an app? Could Parker Payroll Services provide content and collect information using a specially tailored app?
Both terms have to with web sites and their content. CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet. It acts very much like a template might in word. It contains formatting that can be used page after page and all the elements will look the same and in the same place on a web page. But a web page is not a sheet of paper. A sheet of paper is static it doesn’t change size. A web page, however, flexes it size depending on the size of the window width. A style sheet will flex with the size of the window.
CMS is short for Content Management System. It is software that helps non-techy people manage the content on their web sites. Some CMS software can do lots of things. Some are fairly simple and can only do basic tasks. CMS can be a double edged sword. Like all software, it can have a steep learning curve for really complicated tasks. But it can also allow your web site to be always current by allowing fresh content to be added by various staff on the fly. Your best bet is to keep K.I.S.S. principle in mind (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
Posted in Advice, web
Tagged advice, CMS, CSS, web