Christopher Butler. David Sherwin. Karen McGrane. At HOW, we have a proven track record of identifying those designers who can do it all: write, teach, design, you name it. Brain Miller is another jack-of-all sorts, and he doesn’t just dabble—he excels in every aspect of his career.
Web Expert Brian Miller Joins HIDC Speaker Line-up
As a highly-acclaimed speaker and fan favorite, Brian brings his honed expertise and the ability to engage with an audience of designers across the interactive spectrum. In fact, that’s what makes him tick. So when expanding our line-up for the 2014 HOW Interactive Design Conference series, Brian Miller was an obvious choice.
Brian has a rich history in the design community. He’s partner and creative director at his firm, MillerSmith, LLC, and a member of the Adobe Advisory Council, among other associations. He’s written for HOW Magazine and remains one of the most sought after-instructors at HOW Design University, our online education branch of the brand.
In addition to his speaking, writing and teaching engagements, he just launched an updated and revised edition of his web design book, Above The Fold. The book helps web designers of varying skill levels (that’s you!) to master aspects of web design, like prototyping and wireframing, for instance. And, he helps unpack why it’s so critical to continue incorporating these steps into your design practice.
Brian Miller on Wireframing + Prototyping in Web Design
In preparation for Brian’s HOW Interactive Design Conference talk in Washington D.C., September 3-5, and in celebration of his newly revised book, we asked him a few questions about the web design process …
What do new web designers commonly overlook when creating these wireframes and prototypes?
In my experience, new designers tend to think that the wireframe stage is a pre-design or sketching stage. And it is not. Wireframes don’t necessarily work out the layout of a page, they work out the hierarchy—what items are more important than others and how is that importance illustrated. Prototypes, too, are not design tools, they are functionality tools. Prototypes help developers and designers work out a piece of functionality so the design phase is more defined and thus more manageable.
We’ve showcased a variety off different approaches for wireframing and prototyping on HOW over the last few years – from drawings to spreadsheets – what method do you find most helpful?
I find hiring a good information architect is the best approach.
Kidding aside, wireframing, when done properly, can be as challenging as designing and therefore it’s often helpful to have a specialist involved.
For smaller projects I tend to use the tools I’m most comfortable with. So I have an InDesign template created with object styles that help me quickly box out and frame up a layout.
You’re very experienced in website design and layout – what are your top three tips for ANY web designer?
1. Develop a thorough scope document and technical requirements spread sheet before beginning a project. It will help you and your client understand the project better and it will give you a document to measure success against when the project is complete.
2. Form a relationship with a developer you trust and never let that person go. Communication between a designer and developer is essential for bringing a Web design to life.
3. The real work begins when a site goes live. So many designers and clients (myself included) hold on to an old tradition of breathing a sigh of relief when a site launches as if it is the end of the project. Analyze, revised, deploy, repeat.
Want more from Brian Miller?
Get more on the web design process in his new book, Above The Fold: Revised Edition, available now at MyDesignShop.com!