Earlier this week someone asked me if I had any advice for a print or industrial designer that is switching to the web as his medium but has little actual experience with it. Here are a few dos and don’ts from the top of my head.
Do look for inspiration
If you have little experience with designing for the web, it’s a good idea to have a look at the work of people who do. “Trends” are bullshit so don’t focus too much on trying to find out what’s fashionable. Instead gather ideas. When you find something interesting, figure out how it was done.
Do learn code
Do stay updated
Web design is a rapidly changing business so stay up-to-date—it may take more effort than it seems.
Do study the web
You’ve got to know all about your medium and how it works. Designing for the web, you should have an idea of the history of web browsers, web standards, screen resolutions, web fonts, mobile web design and so on. There are loads of nice things you can do on the web but there are also a lot of things to watch out for.
There’s one question I’ve heard many times, from almost every client I’ve had: “Is it possible to … ?” The answer is that anything is possible so never try anything. Instead decide right away—you either do it or you don’t.
Don’t let your software design for you
This is something that obviously applies to any branch of the design profession and I’m not sure about the headline. What I’m saying is: don’t design so that even your five year old will see from a mile away that you’ve used Photoshop blending options. I just doesn’t look good.
Don’t assume it’s easy
Designing for the web isn’t any easier than designing for any other medium. Any kid with a pirated version of Photoshop can put together a site that his girlfriend thinks is cute, sure. Put the same kid in a team with a demanding client and he’ll feel like roadkill in no time at all, no doubt.
Don’t just decorate
There are things that are more important than looks. I’m talking about those words ending with “bility”, like readability, usability and accessibility. And remember to think about how your design affects performance, conversion rates, scalability and so on.
This blog post was way harder to write than I thought. Any way you look at it, there seems to be either too much or too little to say. We’re all different and taking your design knowledge and applying it the web design will inevitably be a very individual experience.
So you know what? You can’t make a list of these things so screw this, go for it and just look out for yourself. Just don’t assume that because you have a Mac you know how to design for the web. Be open and learn.
It’s still a good idea to take a look at these resources though.
And perhaps most importantly, a lot more on Google.com.