Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Planning a Blog (or any site really)

There are many features, widgets, and other elements of Blogger that can be adjusted to customize a blog. While it is possible to randomly add page elements without any real thought to how they affect the overall look or concept of the blog, a little planning will help mold the blog into a user friendly place.

There are several different techniques I use when planning a site:

  • The Post-It Note Method
  • The Photoshop Mockorama
  • Whiteboarding
  • Sketchbooking with pencil and paper
  • Powerpoint slides
  • Creating a default template in a CMS, Blogger, or Wordpress and manuevering the elements until something sticks

The post-it note method as shown on AListApart a few months ago is a very quick method and good for when widgets and other movable elements are involved. Cracking open Photoshop to create mock-ups is another popular method. It is more time consuming, and messing with the fonts so early on can be annoying. Whiteboarding is good for collaboration and when you don't want to get bogged down by visual elements. It should be more about the layout and structure.

Sketchbooking is a precursor to Post-It and Photoshop. A napkin or used copier paper works well too. The advantage of the sketchbook is it can be scanned, and there is a chance old designs will be stumbled upon later.

Powerpoint may sound like an unusual choice, but it is easy to draw boxes and position fonts. The actual sizing can be off, but an overall structure can be quickly worked up and easily shared with the powers that be.

The last method, creating a default template, is a good way to get a better feel for the tool and what the template can do already. It can be tested in multiple browsers before downloading it and using an html editing tool to customize the template. It gives the designer a base line or starting point.

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