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The website that grew, part 11

6th July 2013
Categories: design, ecommerce, tWtG

(for previous episodes, try the "The website that grew" category)

Hugh came back to Kate with a draft design, which he said would need to be approved before the website "build" began.

Website designs differ from real websites in the same way that architects' plans or CAD drawings differ from buildings.  On a CAD drawing, one component might be a wall, whereas in reality a wall is made up of several components - not just bricks, but a cavity in between, and possibly plumbing and electricity running through it. It will also need to conform to building regulations.

Designs are typically created in computer graphics packages such as Photoshop or GIMP, which allow designers to work with multiple components, called layers, when creating a design. Sometimes these components exactly match the components that will be used to build the website - for example a button might be a layer in GIMP and a "tag" in HTML, but in many instances the layers are only an approximation of the website components - they are just being used to create a "picture" of how the website will look.

So once the design is agreed, the work of building the website still needs to be done - not only because the HTML needs to be written, but because buttons and links need to work (i.e. make things happen on the website).

Sometimes designers create a "picture" of every page on the website - and sometimes they will create a home page from which other pages can be derived. The former activity is of course more expensive but will make sure that very little can go wrong in terms of the website looking professional and being easy to use.

Hugh's design got rid of the background colour of the existing cheese shop website - everything was on a white background, so the featured cheeses could stand out. He also came up with a few ideas while designing - including a dinner party cheeseboard calculator.

Cheeseboard calculator

The cheeseboard calculator asked users two simple questions: "how many people?" and "how conservative/experimental are their tastes?".  As well as being fun to play with, it would give users a very quick way of catering for the last course of a small dinner party, which made it quicker than buying cheese on a supermarket site - so definitely worth building into the site.

After a few small tweaks to the design, Kate OK'd it, and the website building work began...

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