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Nov 24

A challenging website project, part II - the design stage explained

2004 at 02.15 am posted by Veerle Pieters

Now that we are in the vein, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give you the entire picture of the design part of this project. I know that most of you come to visit my blog to learn more about design. And from what I can hear in the comments of my previous article, it’s a good idea to tell you how things went in the design stage.

The first 2 designs didn’t went very well. I’ve created the online newsletter design which my client really liked and the mistake I made with the first 2 designs was creating a website that looks almost the same as the newsletter. But it didn’t look right at all. It was out of balance, unattractive and didn’t really reflect the reflect the style of the brochure. You can see for yourself, I don’t expect any “wows” on this one ;-) Guess I had one of those days and as I said I was too focused on the design of the newsletter.

In the second phase things went much smoother. I tried not to think too much about the newsletter and the banner at the top, which is part of the housestyle and used on the brochure, business cards, newsletter and PowerPoint presentations.  I thought if I only use parts of it it will look more balanced and stylish.  So I presented this design to my client. You’ll see that a whole different color palette is used. Maybe in this design I’ve drift too far from the housestyle design to make this the prefect choice. On the other hand this was one of my favorites. Maybe if I change just the color palette this would have worked fine.

In a later design I changed the color palette a bit and made a few modifications based on the comments of my client. As you notice, I still haven’t used the heavy banner in the header and in my opinion, it makes these designs better then the one chosen by the client. What I think could be better in these 2 designs are the colors. The last one is almost OK, it may need a bit more blue-grey instead of grey I think. This would my choice if I would be the client.

The comment on the last design was to implement some “parts” of the “original” designs that they like… you’ve guessed it right… the banner with the Atonium. They asked me to try to make a combination of the last design and the first designs. They really wanted their banner in the header. You see, they were once located in Brussels near the Atonium in the same building where Apple Belgium (and Adobe if I’m not mistaken) is located, called “Buro and Design Centre” near the Heizel expo buildings. In their old designs they’ve always used images of the Atonium and it was my client’s request to use the Atoninium again in the new housestyle. Still, I thought it wasn’t such a bad idea to use just parts of the banner in the left navigation and some details in the header instead of the entire banner. Some of you pointed out that it creates a stressful feeling and you might be right.

Still, we don’t always get our way and not always the design we like the most is chosen. I did defend my favorite design though, it’s part of my job, but in the end you sometimes need to compromise otherwise you create an unhealthy situation. Conclusion, a designer-customer relation is much like a real-life relation where we sometimes have to water one’s wine. After all the end result isn’t that bad.




permalink this comment AkaXakA Wed Nov 24, 2004 at 08.46 am


It pays to be a realist, so we’ve all got to compromise every now and then (more now than then it always feels like).



permalink this comment Patrick Wed Nov 24, 2004 at 08.50 am

You could add that the client is the one who lives with the design after the end of the project. If he doesn’t like it, you miss your target.

Design is the balanced of listening to client’s need and bringing your experience to him.



permalink this comment Kevin Wed Nov 24, 2004 at 11.03 am

That is the true defination of happy medium



permalink this comment Arthur Bahadourian Wed Nov 24, 2004 at 01.41 pm

You’re (one of) my daily addictions!

I enjoy, get educated with every visit. Thankx for opening the door, and inviting me in your ‘creative space’.

Much success…and I’m hooked!! (specially your tutorials)



permalink this comment Dustin Diaz Wed Nov 24, 2004 at 02.38 pm

I have a question…which kind of pertains to simply blogging about your progress.
How do your clients feel about you sharing with us the progress of their website? I’ve always wondered about that kind of stuff.

I have my own design blog as well…but I would almost feel a little awkward if I started talking about how “I did this design and it sucked and then I did this…and they didn’t like that…etc, etc…”

You get what I’m talking about? Do you generally ask your clients if it’s okay? Or, does it just not really matter?

Thanks in advance. Just thought I’d get a good opinion on something I’ve been wondering about for a while.

Btw, you’re making great progress. I liked all the designs.



permalink this comment Veerle Thu Nov 25, 2004 at 08.18 am

@AkaXakA and Patrick, well said :-)

@Arthur, glad to hear this but don’t make it an unhealthy habit :-D

@Dustin, I keep in mind which projects I discuss and I talk about the things that don’t really affect my client I think. About those first designs, I must say that my client wanted to see what I had “so far” and I did tell him exactly the same as in my article : “this is what I have so far but I’m not 100% pleased” with it. He actually liked it at first, but he also needed to give it some thought. So in fact, if I’m not pleased myself, then I usual don’t show the client. This client is a rather “special” one, I know them for years. But I get your point. There are clients that I know I better not talk about the projects I have done. I also have to ask their permission if I can publish it on the website to show it in our portfolio.

There are a few projects that I can’t show because of confidentiality, like intranet designs for example and I respect this. But this article gave me very useful feedback, and I will make some improvements, like the rollovers, so I’m sure they will be happy in the end ;-)



permalink this comment Dustin Diaz Thu Nov 25, 2004 at 03.26 pm

That was very good feedback Veerle. I’ll definitely keep that in mind. I suppose I’m in a different situation most of the time since we make websites for professional sports athletes (NFL, NBA, etc…).
Also, not being the boss of the company I work for, I have to watch what I talk about or what I can show before a website goes live. Even at that point, it makes it even more difficult not to share too much information on how we achieved the process.


Reading entires like this brings a breath of fresh air. I always enjoy watching (or reading about) the creative process on what it takes to achieve the end result.

Thanks…and happy thanksgiving today. It’s time to go eat turkey :)



permalink this comment simon Thu Dec 2, 2004 at 04.53 am

Nice work there Veerle. I can immagine how many hours you spend on this because I’m working on a website that has to be strechable in the height. This is the firstime that I make a website entirely in CSS. And it worked fine until I added two divs in the content div. See for yourself:

Voorbeeld 1: when I make them relative

voorbeeld 2: when I make them absolute

I can easily solve this problem by putting in a table but I really want to do it with CSS. So if you (or anyone else with super CSS-powers) have an idea, let me know.

thank you on forhand :) Simon



permalink this comment simon Thu Dec 2, 2004 at 05.40 am

hy me again, I detected a mistake in my previous post…

voorbeeld 2 should be this link offcourse.

sorry bout that



permalink this comment Veerle Sat Dec 4, 2004 at 09.42 am

hi simon, to fix “voorbeeld 2”, I think you’ll find the answer here in this post on my blog. Hope this helps solving your problem ;-)



permalink this comment simon Mon Dec 6, 2004 at 05.43 am

thanks Veerle.

That was very usefull. By the way, what do you think of my navigation? It’s CSS combined with javascript I found somewhere on the net. very handy resource, internet :)




permalink this comment Veerle Mon Dec 6, 2004 at 06.02 am

simon, I clicked on your link (on your name) but don’t see any navigation based on [removed]-S ??



permalink this comment simon Mon Dec 6, 2004 at 07.02 am

oh, I meant on the website I was working on, that Markethic thing in my previous post. :-P




permalink this comment Carina Mon Jan 24, 2005 at 11.50 pm

Hi, Veerle!
I read both articles, about this werbsite, and I really think you did a very nice work. Well done, with everything in it’s right place.

Now, a little question: How much time did you spend on the project?
From the first interview, til the last revision? (more or less, aproximately).
This is because I always thought that I’m very slow to work. So, I wonder how much time others designers spend on the whole process. 




permalink this comment Veerle Tue Jan 25, 2005 at 09.17 am

@Carina, I’ve checked my ‘logbook’ and spent roughly 15 - 20 hours on the design and 30 - 35 hours on the XHTML/CSS… but I probably spent more time on the last part because I lost heaps of time on finding fixes here and there, solutions (especially to make it stretchable) etc. call it ‘research’ time which I didn’t register in my logbook. As for the design, you have to keep in mind that the banner on top was already made since I used it for the brochure. This banner took 1/2 of a day. Not sure myself if these time schedule makes me a fast worker ;-)

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