October 15, 2021 Improving the Design Process

Mayumi Endo
Executive Officer / Art Director

As the current novel coronavirus pandemic continues, many of our clients are further increasing efforts to take full advantage of their websites. In particular, we’re hearing a growing number of requests to implement full website renewals – with many clients renewing for the first time in several years.

In most cases, a complete site relaunch will include changes to design – so, our Art Directors and UI Designers work together with clients to create an optimum proposal. The crux here is, “how do we propose the optimum design”?

Difficulty Determining the Design Elements

To introduce how we approach design, I'd like to start with a familiar example. When deciding on design in daily life, for example when buying a new smartphone, what factors do consumers often consider? If there are numerous attractive products in a store, buyers may become perplexed about which to choose. However, I believe that they can decide on the principal “design elements," such as size and color, with minimum hesitation.

In contrast, when it comes to designing a corporate website, it can be more difficult to determine the core design elements. This is especially true if the website hasn’t been updated for several years. The reasons being include current project leaders possibly lacking information from the previous update, or webmasters from past renewals may have moved on and are unavailable to assist in the current project.

Before Commencing the Design Phase

So, how to best commence the design phase? Initially, we recommend that our clients formulate their renewal objectives in detail. This first step, without limiting scope to design, is to identify the overall background and purpose of the project; we then determine how the findings should influence the design. If the background (and the request) is that the design has become outdated (and therefore needs to be renewed), a solution might be to adopt an in-vogue design theme that provides website users with a more positive impression of the company. However, at any one time, there are a wide variety of designs that can be considered fashionable, and if one is adopted that isn’t consistent with the overall project objectives then the desired effect may not be realized.

While it’s beneficial to commence design discussions with a focus on the visual impression, it can be easy to get carried away. This is especially true when design phase participants seek influence through their own personal preferences, without reflecting on the purpose of the project. In such cases, it is important to ask the question "what exactly are the issues with the current design?" and share answers with project members.

Viewing, Considering, Conveying Design

Here, I’ve introduced tips for the design preparation stage. For more, we’re organizing a seminar entitled “For Webmasters, Viewing, Considering, Conveying Design" (in Japanese), which we hope will provide an enhanced understanding of how to better manage the design phase. The seminar will be held online on Friday 22 October 2021, and, as of writing, registration to join is still open. Please note that the Seminar is in Japanese. We hope that you will be able to join, and we look forward to seeing you online.

For more information on our services, timeframes and estimates, as well as examples of our work, please feel free to be in touch.