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5 Lessons from a year in web design

By October 14, 2015November 4th, 2021Design

It has been a year since I switched over to specialising in web design. I came from a background of print design – and after landing a role at Forge and Smith I’ve been immersed in responsive web design.

While I would like to say “I never looked back”, that isn’t the case – the concepts and principles that I learned through university and my design career apply the same to web design. To reflect on my first year at Forge and Smith I wanted to share the key lessons from this year.

Adapting from the world of print design to web design has been a relatively easy transition. Basic design principles that I was familiar with translate into the web world. And the team at Forge and Smith is keen to share their knowledge to help me grow further.

5 key lessons from a year specialising in web design

1. Know and master the rules (before you break them!)

Designers love breaking rules – I like to think we make a living breaking the rules. But you have to know, understand and master the rules before you can break them.

Designers love cutting-edge design (and thankfully many of our clients do too!). We find the perfect time to find a different way to do things, something exciting and new. You can’t break all the rules all the time on all projects – it just doesn’t work that way. But a bit of skilful bending gives the design a creative edge.

2. Be aware of other design

When I specialised in print, I was always aware of what was happening in other areas of design: architecture, interior and the web world. I was critical of the design of websites I visited; and I even dabbled in a little web design here and there.

I find my design inspired by other areas of design (rather than web design inspired by web design). Finding inspiration for web design on the web I find is a little like trying to smell something new in a perfume store.

Read my Forge and Smith blog for some inspiration sources: Inspiration not Perspiration: 5 Sources of Inspiration.

3. The grid

The grid is key, the grid is golden.

The grid is important in print design, as it is in web design – arguably even more so. While posters, illustration and some kinds of print design are not strict on using a grid (or don’t even use one) – I learned grid structures from my work on publications (such as annual reports, magazines). And the same applies to web design.

The grid doesn’t just aid in creating a visually pleasing and consistent design – but it also helps in designing a responsive web experience.

4. Styles and consistency

A user-friendly experience relies on styles and consistency. While designers often try to push things “out of the box” consistency is what ties it all together. My much-loved consistent paragraph styles from print design translate to CSS styles on the web.

5. The devil is in the detail

The devil is in the detail, well not really (but it does sound catchy). The details are what really make a design. By nature I am a minimalist designer; I like clean and clear – communication is key.

What makes a good design a great design then? The answer is the details. The small things: a subtle gradient, the right paragraph and line spacing; a good typographic rhythm – they are all key to a great design.

Check out these Forge and Smith projects I have been a part of over the last year: Heart Stone Paper, Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine, Warrenton Auto Service, SchoolCreative.

If you have any questions, send me a message!