Crises happen everywhere, especially in a web design project. There are conflicting opinions in teams of two or more, while a one-man operation can wither under the pressure of prototyping, designing, developing, and testing.
But there are even more roadblocks you’ll face before, during, and after designing and developing is ‘officially’ done.
The Prototyping of User-centric Designs
Whether you’re flying solo or collaborating with a team, you’ll need prototypes to get your clients’ approval first. This is just as difficult as it looks, because first impressions matter. You know it in your heart.
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As user-first designs become more popular, tracing journeys and showcasing interaction through prototypes becomes ever more difficult. Even the tried-and-tested pen and paper can only go so far, and they won’t work to your advantage with clients (especially the ones not familiar with web tech).
Since spending too much time and resources on developing a photoshopped prototype is every designer and developer’s idea of utter waste, you need to adopt more versatile options.
My advice would be to use animation to depict the more important parts of user-journeys. Tools like Style Tiles are easy to work with and handy for collaboration with the team, while prototypes developed on Pidoco are perfect for teams and clients alike.
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Balancing Mobile and Desktop
This sounds easier than it is.
The most accepted theory around the street goes for progressive enhancement: Designing for mobile-first and gradually building up for device sizes. The other approach (to same theory) is content-first, where you start with content and add features bit-by-bit to accommodate devices as well as browsers.
In both cases the last stage is arriving at desktop. Do you see the problem here?
Mobile users did overtake desktop (by the end of 2014), but remember that a significant chunk of your clients’ audience is still using desktop. Providing a poorly made “desktop-optimized” website for them could be counterproductive.
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To get to the solution that works for your client, what you need to do is ask yourself this:
- Who is your clients’ audience?
- What are their preferred devices/browsers?
- How can you accommodate those devices?
- Can the client maintain a separate mobile-optimized website?
Once you know the answers, you can take your pick from creating responsive or adaptive design, or simply design a separate mobile-optimized website.
Practical Limitations to Accessibility
Internet’s widely known W3C attempts to enforce some guidelines in order to make the web more accessible to users with disabilities. This initiative, called WebAIM, basically boils down to a dozen or so guidelines like alt text for visual media, device-agnostic development, better navigation, etc.
While they sound simple enough to follow (Here, checkout the full version), quite a few designers and developers find out that accessibility guidelines could still be somewhat difficult to adopt, mainly because, as Andreas Giannakoulopoulos, a lecturer a Ionian University, said in an old but fairly accurate study, ‟perceptions do not seem to be changing fast; they (webmasters) may support the concept of web accessibility, but they cite roadblocks to accessibility such as lack of time, lack of training, lack of managerial support, lack of client support, inadequate software tools, and confusing accessibility guidelines.”
These are practical, relevant concerns and should not be looked down upon. Client and management support is the biggest trouble, and they can be minimized with better understanding of advantages, namely SEO, better usability (for general users too), and social and legal benefits. In fact, there’s a fairly significant overlap between developing for better mobile experiences and accessibility.
Make sure you use those points to convince The Man to let you make the web more accessible.
Page Load Speed
This is a fairly easy thing to remember to do, obscenely difficult to optimize.
The load time (initial, full-page, TTFB, and more) depends on more things than the size of the media, so merely compressing the images will not do (although it’s a good start). Developers, however, may sometimes forget the following things:
- Compliance: Clean code reduces unexpected errors, which can affect page load.
- Number of redirects: Stick to bare minimum. Best case is none at all.
- Number of roundtrips: TTFB (Time-to-First-Byte) times can be high on heavy websites because of TCP slow start. So yes, keep the page light.
Using caching and content delivery networks (feasible for high-traffic websites with international audiences) is always encouraged.
In designing and developing today, these 4 challenges are the most common.
- Prototyping User-Centric/Interactive designs
- Selecting the best way for mobile-optimization
- Accessibility and its limitations
- Page speed optimization
I am hoping you are now better prepared for dealing with those.
Author Bio: Lucy Barret is an experienced WordPress developer at HireWPGeeks Ltd., a WordPress Development Company. She has the responsibility of handling all major HTML to WordPress conversion projects with her team of experienced developers. You can follow her company on social media channels like Facebook and Google+.