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Q&A Part 3

This is the last and final part of my Q & A with Joshua Lomelino discussing the Web design process. I wanted to post in two parts, but it’s so long that I decided to make it three. I hope you enjoy it.
What strategies do you employ when navigating towards a final visual website interface design for a client? How do you help them towards making a final decision when there are many variables in play?
Coding the basic site structure and putting it on our test server is a great final review. It makes the design seem more real and the actual site interaction is there. We usually don’t build out all of the pages, but just having a basic site up that the client can click through is really helpful for them to experience.
Would you show us a few projects and explain your creative process from sketch to rough designs, to finished design (if available)? Would you explain how you establish the purpose and nature of a website and the resulting interface design to visually describe the company and their website?
FranklinIs.com is a local website that is a resource for all things Franklin and acts as a community for its users. With close to a thousand pages of content, and a demographic that runs the gamut of humankind, designing a user friendly interface for FranklinIs.com required lots of planning and about a million design iterations. FranklinIs has been around for about 5 years now and they were in desperate need of a redesign. Using Google Analytics, the site had collected a wealth of information over the course of its existence. We used that information to learn which pages received the most traffic, the amount of time a user spent on each page and from where in the country users came from. That information told us exactly what kind of content should be on the home page and which sections should receive the most focus. Instead of designing an individual page for each of the 10 sections, we decided we’d create 4 standard “landing page” interfaces that each section could fit into. So, we wireframed about 10 home pages iterations 8 different landing pages and 2 or 3 tertiary / standard content pages. We narrowed down the home page to 3 different wireframes and built them into designs. We then narrowed down the graphic designs into one final home page. The site is currently being built out and after almost a year of design and development, we’re about ready to launch.
What advice do you have for students preparing for a career in interactive design? What types of skills do you look in students when evaluating internship and employment positions?
It’s very important to follow the process. Designers begin with wireframes and sketches for a reason. There are certain instances when a designer can get away with not doing that kind of preliminary conceptualizing, but those should be rare occurrences.What I usually look for in an intern / designer is someone who listens and takes notes when receiving design critiques. I also appreciate students who are good at organizing their files and their layers in PSD’s.
Here are some sites that I’ve used as resources and as inspiration: Really good interface designer: http://www.vlourenco.com/
Amazing blog pointing out all aspects of interface design: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/17/showcase-of-minimalist-and-clean-designs/
Another good resource: http://webdesignledger.com/tips/10-signs-of-a-user-focused-design
One last thought: Sometimes it just doesn’t matter if you “follow all the rules” and create an end user focused interface design, because if something’s going to be successful, it’s just going to be successful no matter how well it’s designed.
Interview by Joshua Lomelino, Director of Interactive Media, O’More College of Design
Joshua teaches courses in Interactive Media with a focus on information architecture, usability, and visual interface design.

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