UCD process

first? last? as you go? (when do you design the homepage?)

i was reading Derek Powazek’s article on A List Apart this morning in which he talks about the mysteries and wonders of designing a site homepage. Its a well documented struggle, I think. In many cases, its really all your client is worried about. Derek’s clients must be either incredibly well educated in design process, or on copious amounts of valium, if he really does what he says and designs the homepage last.

I wonder if he really does that. I mean, I’ve been known to say that’s what I do, but most of the time what actually happens is that the homepage evolves iteratively as the rest of the site is nutted out in detail. I’d agree that the homepage is probably one of the last pages to be totally finished, but its certainly not, in my experience, the last one to be started.

By starting some work on the homepage (however non-commitally, and with many disclaimers), I find I buy myself a little time from the client to go do the rest of the site, which is much less interesting to them. Its like how they always want to start on visual design immediately, without doing all of the rest of the research and scoping to establish what the hell it is we’re designing! (apologies to all the good clients out there for my sweeping statements and stereotyping!)

I wonder if it depends on how much time you have on a project as well. Perhaps if you have a lot of time slated to do the design work, you can hold back on the homepage much longer with out the client wigging out.

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