7 Methods Of Creative Approach To Problem Solving For Web Designers
What is web design? Well, as much as we would like to, providing a single definition to such a complex and multifaceted idea that involves so many different skills and disciplines would be next to impossible. Fortunately enough, we don’t have to. Plenty of articles and even more websites have tackled this issue and there’s more than enough information out there for people that are just getting started in the world of web design or for those that want to improve their understanding of this not-so-particular area. As for us, we’re aiming at a slightly different target audience with this piece. What we want to do here is help those that have already started their journey in the field of web design. To lend a helping hand to those people that already understand the staggering amount of details you have to keep in mind as a web designer but aren’t necessarily that well-equipped yet to deal with everything that the work might throw its way.
With that goal in mind, we decided to come with seven different methods of creative approach to problem solving for web designers. Why? Because web design have always been about problem solving first and foremost, with web designers being problem-solvers by their very nature. Every project you tackle is a challenge that involves both helping other people understand the end goal and choosing the right approach to reach that goal. And since, at least when it comes to the world of information technologies, web design is one of the most creative professions out there, we didn’t feel like sharing boring and straight-up mechanical solutions to problems that revolve around such an often artistic subject. Well, with that out of the way, let’s get started, shall we?
Look Outside Your Industry for Inspiration
While it may sound somewhat counterintuitive and even downright ridiculous to some people, we’d like to ask that you stick with us on this one and, at the very least, hear us out. Sure, the world of information technologies is the world where math dictates the rules, the world of ones and zeroes. And, suffice it to say, web design is an intrinsic part of this world. But it is also one of the very few areas of it where the rules that you are bound by are far more vague. If you compare it with, say, software engineering, web design often provides its practitioners with much more wiggle room. Of course, as most things are, this sort of additional freedom can often be somewhat of a double-edged sword since that also means that the customers will have the opportunity to demand so much more from you than they would out of somebody with a different profession. And, as a rule of a thumb, most people tend to look at their colleague’s work for inspiration. Granted, there’s nothing particularly wrong with that, but it will only take you so far since, with this approach, you are the one that sets the boundaries and limits your own potential.
What we’re suggesting here is a bit of a different approach. Instead of looking at the works of other web designers for clues and inspiration, why don’t you look outside your industry for inspiration? Or, better yet, ditch the idea of design altogether for a moment. Disregard everything you know about the artistic part of it, forget about the interface and the proprietary software, ignore the user experience and all of the other aspects of your profession. Instead, try to look at the people around the globe and carefully study their stories. Watch these people as they interact with the world around them and solve different kinds of extraordinary problems on a daily basis. Sure, it may sound a bit confusing, and you will definitely feel tempted to choose the easy way out, opting to chase your competitors and borrow the ideas from other web designers. But the thing you shouldn’t forget is that, at the end of the day, you’re designing your work for people, so drawing inspiration from them makes all the sense in the world if you stop to think about it for more than a second.
Again, this may sound confusing, but what we’re suggesting is actually about as simple as it gets. There are no rules here. You don’t have to follow any patterns. Just step outside your comfort zone for a moment and observe people. Look at the problems some of them have to solve to simply get by and the sort of methods they take to solve them. For instance, you could read about the farmers in Bangladesh and the way they adapt to the rising sea levels. In order to keep the country afloat (both literally and figuratively), these enterprising ladies and gentlemen utilize hyacinth plants in order to create floating gardens, where they plant squash, okra, and other food crops. Suffice it to say, the floating garden is one of those seemingly simple yet outright ingenious ideas that provides those farmers with the opportunity to grow food on flooded land, something that most people would deem not just difficult but downright impossible. Furthermore, what is so inspiring about this story is that these individuals turned what many would consider to be a complete roadblock into something that could even be described as a benefit now.
Of course, if the latter sounds a bit too specific for your taste and you just can’t seem to figure out how you would be able to emulate the approach of Bangladeshi farmers towards the rising sea level issue in your web designing work, you could always choose a less obscure example. There’s a good chance you have seen countless variations of the classic “The Truck is Too Tall for the Tunnel” problem. Nevertheless, the reason it became so popular in the first place is because how universally applicable it is. Regardless of your profession, it is never a bad idea to step back for a moment and think about a problem in a more lateral manner. Web design or not, this method will often allow you to avoid engaging in a costly and potentially damaging process.
Develop Multiple Solutions
If you would not be able to describe yourself as a veteran in the field of web design yet but this isn’t even remotely your first rodeo either, there’s a good chance that you have tackled some of the same problems quite a few times already, something that led you to develop certain patterns that you replicate every time you are faced with these problems. And while having some experience under your belt is never a bad thing, it may cause you to think that there is no other way of dealing with this issue. To avoid getting stuck in your ways, you might want to consider developing multiple solutions to a single problem. In order to do that, try to remember those projects where you have designed something you thought the client would like, something you liked, and the sort of work that fell somewhere in between these two.
A good way to do that is to think of every design project as an opportunity to try out a multitude of different approaches. If you do that, the end result may look like one of the concepts that we have mentioned above, a combination of these concepts, or something completely and entirely different. This sort of flexibility will allow you to evolve both as a professional and as an artist.
Prioritize the User Experience
It’s no secret that web designers have to keep the audience in mind when it comes to just about everything they do from the very start of any project. Nevertheless, even the most seasoned designers often fail to put themselves into their customer’s shoes, as this is a complicated process that requires you to consider the impact of your design every step of the way. Thankfully, there is a trick that any designer can use to improve the communication process with the potential users. All you have to do is simply ask yourself one of these questions every time you’re about to make any decision, no matter how seemingly insignificant it may be: How will this particular item work in conjunction with other elements of the website? Will these colors be able to create exactly the sort of mood that you’re going with in your design? Is the font easy to read and, if it isn’t, should you change the font or the background? Finally, what do you think the user will feel interacting with your design and does the design match the company’s image?
Sure, this method may inconvenience you at first, but by thinking about the way your design will be received by the users, you will always be able to find some common ground between your approach and the customer’s demands.
Admittedly, this particular piece of advice may not be as creative as a few others we have already mentioned in this article, but as much as web design is about creativity, it is also about technologies that allow those creative juices to flow. At the end of the day, even sculptors and painters rely upon a variety of different tools and instruments to perform their art. And, frankly, no matter how talented or skilled you may be, there’s only so much you can do without proper hardware to back you up.
The good news is, dissimilar to video editors or people that dabble in 3D modeling, you do not need a ridiculously powerful rig to do your job. You don’t have to pay for a couple of overpriced graphics card nor will you ever need a particularly impressive CPU. Nevertheless, you’ll definitely need enough gigabytes of RAM to handle a variety of different windows and applications that you will be running at the same time. You could also find some use for a spacious hard drive since the software you will be using may take away some of that disk space of yours. But, first and foremost, what you will need is the best ultrawide monitor that money can buy. Why? First of all, because web designers tend to spend hours not just staring at a computer screen but also making sure that every tiny detail is in its place. Aside from the fact that the latter is simply harder to do on a small laptop display, a proper curved monitor delivers a much more natural viewing experience by following the curve of your eyes, a technology that reduces eye strain, allowing you, in turn, to spend a few additional hours doing your job without having to worry about your health. And that’s not to mention that you will be able to open more windows at the same time, an approach that will greatly improve your efficiency.
Setting the desktop computers aside for a moment, we did remind everybody at the start of this article that web design is one of the most multifaceted fields out there that involves a great variety of different skills and disciplines. And that means there’s a great variety of devices and gadgets that could help you perfect your craft. For instance, if you’re the kind of web designer that mostly dabbles in graphic design, there are plenty of good drawing tablets on the market that will allow you to create high-quality digital images with the sort of convenience that no subpar product will be able to offer.
Visualize How It Works
When you’re building an entire website from scratch, it is often hard to see a complete picture just by looking at all of the pieces of the puzzle. However, that is exactly what you should be doing. Try to picture yourself interacting with the final product. How does it work? Is it particularly user-friendly? Will the experienced audience (if that is the sort of target audience you have in mind) find it quite as useful as those people that aren’t as knowledgeable on the subject? What are the biggest selling points of your product? What are some of its weaknesses?
And if visualization isn’t exactly your strongest suit, you could always build a mockup version of the website first, the kind that will imitate the main functions of your website in order to help you gauge the overall effectiveness of your concept. Obviously, this method will be mostly helpful in terms of checking the actual use and the site’s functions and it won’t be able to do you much good as far as aesthetics go.
Get Some Help
We get it. You have been a web designer for as long as you can remember and, setting the matter of pride aside for a moment, you were always more of a lone wolf anyway. With both years of experience and some serious skills under your belt, you really don’t feel like seeking any kind of help, let alone some guidance. But even the biggest introverts won’t be able to deny that the right kind of collaboration has always been the key to a successful project. Ask any good web designer and that person will probably tell you that some of his best projects would have turned out completely different if it wasn’t for the input of his colleagues along the way.
Of course, simply agreeing to it is seldom enough. You should invite that participation. Ask somebody who has a bit more experience than you do for an advice. Ask a less experienced designer for his opinion. Try to gather as much feedback as possible about every detail, be it something as minor as the colors, font, or imagery or something as major as ideas and bigger functions. Even if you do not necessarily respect the person’s views when it comes to web design, it’s never a bad idea to get a second opinion.
Set a Deadline
We wouldn’t go as far as to call the web designers a lazy bunch, but let’s just say that those creative individuals often require some extra motivation to finish the work on time. Whether you agree with it or not, we bet that the majority of designers will agree that most projects never really get going (or even started, for that matter) until there is a strict deadline that has to be met. We don’t quite know what it is, but there’s just something about that pressure that brings out the best in talented people.
Having said that, sometimes you don’t have to set a deadline yourself as you’re forced to deal with an unrealistic one set by your customers or your boss. If that’s the case, don’t be ashamed to ask for a deadline extension.
And that’s about all there is to it. Of course, there are plenty of more practical approaches out there and quite a few of those that are more targeted towards a specific job instead of web design in general. So if you feel like these creative solutions were a bit too out-of-the-box for you, don’t hesitate to look for some useful bits of information on your own.