Website case studies are a great way to learn
I wrote this post a while back. The content can still be relevant but the information I've linked to may not be available.
I like to browse a lot of websites with the aim of learning from how others do things. I figure that this is part of my job as a freelance web designer/developer. However, sometimes it is difficult to know what went on during the design process of any website you look at. That's why I particularly like blog posts, articles, and other case studies, where a website design is explained. Normally, this will deconstruct the website in question and I find these really useful. Here are a few case study 'design stories' that I have been reading recently:
- Simon Collison recently redesigned his personal website and in this blog post called Redesigning the Undesigned he explains the design process, including the eventual idea to base the design on a miscellany/journal approach, why he chose Times New Roman (brave choice?) as the main font, and the use of black and white animal illustrations. I must say that I love the design of this website and it's great to see it explained.
- CoffeePowered is Paul Stanton's personal website and he describes the redesign process in this post. I like the description of the font choices, the colour palette, the use of Modernizr, and the description of the sketching and design approach that was used.
- In the new second edition of CSS Mastery (» Amazon USA · Amazon UK) by Andy Budd, there are two case studies by Cameron Moll and Simon Collison (him again) that are well worth reading. For example, these studies (Roma and Climb The Mountains, linked from the CSS Mastery website) include explanations of new CSS methods, the grid structure, style sheet organisation, and the typographic choices.
- Jeremy Keith explains the design and build of Workshops for the Web including why he ditched the initial design idea and the use of HTML5 and microformats.
All these chaps are talented designers and more than likely they will also do things differently to you. It makes sense to try and learn from them….