Things you should know about design mock-ups

I received a call yesterday from clients of mine (technology consulting, not web design) asking a few questions about web design and appearance. They are in the process of getting their website redone, and while they were very excited about the design mock-up the actual HTML version of their site was not pleasing them.

This points out several potential problems with doing a mockup with out actually developing the HTML version. First off there are almost always going to be compromises that are to be made in some shape or form when going from a bitmap layout to an actual XHTML/CSS layout.

However, a design should not be developed that can not be replicated logistically on a webpage. This is why it is important that the person doing the actual graphic design has a good idea of how web pages work. It also is important that the person doing the coding has enough design sense that they don’t butcher the appearance.

Now it sounds like ideal the person doing the design and the coding is the same person, that way all the limitations are known as well as the design elements. However this is not always logical for time reasons, and for skill reasons. A great coder might not be a great designer, and vice versa. My own company 3.7 Designs rarely has the same person doing everything on a project. However, we work closely enough together where there is no confusion.

Secondly – It points out the lack of knowledge about flash, by both web designers and users. In the design industry most people generally accept that a site all in flash is a big no-no, but some companies insist due to the animation and scripting that can be done.

However – in this case it is simply to make formatting the site easier. Something that should be able to be done easily with XHTML/CSS. This way you don’t run into the accessibility, and search engine problems that plague flash. They are not taking advantage of 90% of the benefits of flash, and getting 100% of the downfalls of flash.

I would like to leave on this note, companies looking for a web developer. Remember making a website is not terribly easy, when you are doing it properly (CSS/XHTML/ETC). That is why it is important to make sure the company you are working with is not just different divisions – design and programming – because they go hand in hand, they need to work together.