Design vs Function and Content
There are three areas to be addressed during the process of website implementation: Design, content, and functionality. Technically content and functionality are addressed by the Design Process. In other words, in a perfect world, we begin with Website Design and all else follows in an orderly and happy way. However, in the real world, we tend to be results-oriented and want to see concrete progress asap.
Functionality First Approach
This is a common approach and at Montana Technical Solutions Kalispell Website Design and Development Services we work with our clients, regardless. This means that even in less than perfect situations we will strive to deliver a functional, usable, cost-effective site. When the design process is sacrificed, as often happens, we know we can still deliver excellent results. We also know the pitfalls of this approach and can help our clients mitigate the worst of the consequences – namely excessive costs.
The Trade Off
How we do this is simple – incorporate certain design elements into the development process. The trade-off here will be some limitations in modifying the appearance of the site. Many clients are more focused on the content and functionality of the site and are happy to forego minor changes in appearance. It is worth mentioning here that those clients who cannot accept these limitations definitely cannot afford to skip the initial site design process where all elements of the site are defined: colors, fonts, images, artwork, graphics, page layouts, menu and navigation functionality, site applications, security considerations, and all infrastructure parameters. If complete control over the appearance, functionality, and content of your site cannot be sacrificed, DO NOT SKIP THE DESIGN PROCESS.
As mentioned, the trade off in deploying a site with little or no design documentation is limited control over its appearance. As with all things software, we know it can be changed, the problem is that every design change on an established site with no design documentation, will have unpredictable consequences. Sometimes we are fortunate and the simple change doesn’t have a domino effect. But much of the time unexpected changes are introduced – columns are broken, text disappears, images are cropped or distorted, non-conforming colors appear, vertical alignment breaks. This is a slippery slope – as we attempt to fix each broken element, other elements break. There is no quick fix so we have three choices: accept the existing design, implement an entirely new design, or deconstruct the existing design so that we fully understand it. It is important here to re-iterate: If 100% control over site design is important, begin the process with a thorough design document that completely defines site appearance, and functionality including a complete css implementation. The effort will be well worth it in the long run.