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Creative Process in Designing Websites

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People that aren't in the web design world are often curious about the creativity designers encompass. How do new ideas come to fruition? How do trends develop? Below are a few tips to keep designers' creativity honed.

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Personally, the best way to get my creative juices flowing is to simply browse through beautiful web experiences for inspiration to spark. Awwwards compiles a barrage of beautifully designed websites for users to browse through. Depending on the type of website audience, the theme of the website, marketing aims, and overall brand / user experience, a designer can pick up some pretty nifty design treatments, elements, interactions, and the like, simply by seeing it done well on other websites. This may sound like a form of copycatting, but often times while applying a certain interaction / element / style I've seen on a previous website into my own layout, I come up with my own variation - sometimes even 180 degrees different from the inspiration piece!

Brainstorming and Foundational Skills

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While inspiration pieces are great, after awhile, some website designs may start feeling stale. Perhaps you may even feel like what you've created isn't really "from you." That's when foundational skills and good old-fashioned brainstorming come into play. Play around with the design elements and interactions. Really let loose and experiment! The goal is to choose the right combination of colors, images, treatments, and fonts based on the overall brand / theme of the website being designed.

A brand new, un-thought of user interaction can be created simply by thinking about the user first and placing yourself in their shoes. Some good questions to ask while designing are:

  • What is the main issue on a website that needs to be resolved?
  • What is/are their main goal(s) on the website?
  • What is/are the ideal path(s) to follow?
  • What needs to happen for them to get to their goal?
  • How would you want them to behave while on the website?

These are the questions to ask yourself when problem-solving a particular user experience.

The main idea for you as the designer is to use a bit of trial and error to come up with a unique design and experience, both breathtakingly beautiful and highly functional.

Brainstorming as a Group

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What's better than one singular creative mind? Two (or more) creative minds! Brainstorming for ideas usually happens best when in a group setting. The benefit of brainstorming as a group is that each person in the process has a different point of view, so there is far less of a chance of recycling the same ideas over and over again, which can be the case when brainstorming by yourself. There are certain points to keep in mind while brainstorming as a group:

  • First and foremost, there is no such thing as a bad idea. Feel free to really let loose and let the creative juices flow freely.
  • Don't pre-judge other people's ideas! The whole point of brainstorming as a group is to flush out as many ideas as possible, then later analyze each idea individually to weigh out its pros and cons. Pre-judging another person's idea can often lead to unnecessary squabbles, low team morale, and an unproductive brainstorming session, all the while snuffing out whatever creativity an individual team member may innately have. Keep channels of communication wide and open, and allow even seemingly silly / crazy ideas to pass through in the initial brainstorming session.
  • The more ideas, the merrier. True creativity occurs when many ideas leading up to the brilliant moment have already occurred.
  • Remember all of the silly / crazy ideas mentioned earlier? They can prove useful, as quite often, they can spark great ideas.
  • Limit the duration of your brainstorming session. The longer it draws out, the more people may become unfocused or frustrated. Up to 30 minutes is a good duration to aim for./li>
  • A group of up to 6 people is ideal for a brainstorming session. If there are more than 6 individuals, splitting into two separate groups can make the session more manageable / productive for all involved.
  • After the initial brainstorming session, analysis of each individual idea should take place. This evaluation should be performed in a single group. Weigh out the pros and cons of each idea, and filter out good ideas from the rest.
  • Choose a brainstorm leader who will keep track of time, organize / manage the session, and most importantly, enforce the points mentioned above.

Inspiration from Outside Forces

There is no doubt that inspiration can come from anywhere. The best creative minds often draw inspiration from songs they listen to, nature they encounter, or artwork they view. It's up to you to simply be open and mindful, while observing the world around you to draw inspiration from. Don't just look, but see.

Creativity can be elusive at times. Creating a beautiful, functional website even more so. By following the techniques above, creativity and inspiration can be within your grasp.

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