When planning a project schedule for a website the biggest single factor in delaying a website’s completion date is content. Ultimately a website is nothing without good content and it’s vital that it’s given as much consideration as design and information architecture. Content plays a big part in the overall user experience of the site and helps a website evolve and grow over time. Just ask Google, content is king.
Designing with real data
In an ideal scenario considering content before design leads to the best output. Content informs decisions about how a page will look, feel and function. Having real content to work with also helps highlight parts of a design system which won’t work in practical terms early on in the process. Designing for an unrealistic perfect scenario will only ever lead to a disappointing end product or will require further work to re-design for the actual content which delays projects and increases costs.
Generating content for a new website is often a task that’s underestimated and often has to fit into a client’s regular workflow which is can cause delays. More often than not it’s impossible to start a project with every bit of the content ready. There are also certain scenarios where data will be user generated such as user profiles. So unfortunately designing with final content first isn’t always an option.
Designing with real data can be a time consuming process too. For example designing a layout for an online store where a page may have 20 different products, images and descriptions. The temptation is to save some time and duplicate one product with a couple of variations to get a feel for how this would look. But this provides an unrealistic and idealistic view of how that page would look, where titles are of equal length and everything lines up nicely. This is a challenge that the software industry have picked up on and reacted to.
Adobe XD – previously ‘Project Comet’
Released just this week in preview form Adobe XD is Adobe’s reaction to the relatively new digital-focused design application Sketch. It too provides a cleaner more simplistic set of tools focussed on the layout of web and app based designs. Its marketing has put a lot of focus on its grid feature which duplicates content and allows a layout of multiple panels to be edited simultaneously by interacting with just one. It also allows for multiple images to be easily added into these layouts.
Craft by InVision
Invision is a prototyping tool that allows the user to present a clickable version of a website which makes static visuals come to life and begin to feel more like the end product. It also helps spot any issues with layout or user flow before the development stage.
Craft is a new plugin that Invision has released to make the design process quicker and the output more realistic, or in their own words ‘Powered by reality’. It is available for Sketch and Adobe Photoshop. It allows you to place multiple photos either from the web or from your own assets folders, into the design all at once, as well as import type from databases of variable data for names, headlines, articles, counties, cities and more. Duplicate is a feature that allows content areas to be rolled out in a structured grid format using unique data for each panel.
Adobe, Invision and Sketch have all taken steps to improve the design process and also the speed at which layouts can be considered and tested against real data. Competition can only be a good thing and their recognition to improve the process as well as the outputs is a real positive move. Verifying design decisions earlier and faster allows for more time to be spent refining other areas which can only be a good thing for designers and clients alike. We look forward to making use of these tools in future projects.Tags: design, UX, website