Can you really design purely in a browser?
Listening to this week’s Upfront podcast (well worth checking out) with Jack Smith and Ben Howdle it was pleasing to hear them mention still using Photoshop in the initial part of web projects. Up until this point the more I read about designing in the browser the more dirty I felt that I should still decide to use Photoshop as a starting point for web design.
It has been irking me somewhat and maybe I am missing a key element of the "how" of designing in browser but to be honest I struggle to see how it makes sense.
If you look at any form of design be it architecture, industrial design or interior design concepts still are an essential part to the development of a product. I don't think you can design purely in browser... there I said it!
I know I will get flak for this and I guess if it works for you (and no doubt it does for some people) then power to you but to me it is rather like deciding to build a car and just gathering the components around you and then building something from it. Yes you will end up with a car, which will function, but it will be entirely within the existing scope of an existing car. It seems a bit "scrapheap challenge" rather than designing an F1 car.
I am all for developing prototypes, wireframes and other proofs of concept to accompany a design but to me the initial idea needs to be realised in a visual form before going anywhere near html/css.
Designing is hard enough without having to deal with the issues that actually building sites throws up, I think you need to eliminate as many restrictions as possible in that first phase of design.
Another issue is that clients want to see what the site they are paying thousands of pounds for will look like. This is the harsh reality of working for clients; they are not designers so often have trouble conceptualising based on a mood board or wireframe. As much as I agree with the idea of style tiles and so on every time we have tried this method the client has said, "yeah that looks great, can you supply some visual mock ups of how the site will look though?” There is nothing wrong with developing an idea of how the site will look in mobile, tablet and desktop. It helps to focus the mind on the different actions a device is receptive to as opposed to just making the site technically responsive.
This may also go some way to explaining the recent murmurings that RWD has sucked the soul out of web design.
Perhaps it is not responsive techniques but a shift towards more technical people designing sites than designers. I am totally happy with this ( I am more technical than designer myself) but it feels like their needs to be a balance between design and development. Too far in either direction and you end up with either a technically great site that sits very safely within the confines of HTML or a site that is beautifully designed but misses usability or technical considerations.
I can't see me disbanding Photoshop/sketchpads and the back of a fag packet any time soon but would love to hear from some people who do design purely in browser so I could see what I am missing.
How do you support your ongoing clients with website updates/support? Do you use a retainer or charge hourly?
Websites are not for designers and developers, they are for users