How To Look At Web Design Projects Differently?

Posted on July 3, 2013 by

Many designers wonder whether and how they can look at web design projects differently. However, changing our way of thinking about web design isn’t so simple. It’s quite easy for web designers to let themselves off with common excuses like being too busy. However, stagnation can cost us creativity. But again, being a creative professional can sometimes feel like a blind individual. Web designers are constantly asked to innovate, but innovations by their very nature entail defining new approaches to old problems. This necessitates us to look at the problems differently. Unfortunately, nearly similar results are guaranteed if we do the same things repeatedly.

Designers shouldn’t use the same bag of tricks all the time and based on past experiences, when new solutions are required, the best things designers could do is to change their entire perspective. This might involve dealing with new visuals and asking different questions to clients. Once designers are able to explore the problem from new angles, be they strategic, functional and visual; they’ll immediately see something entirely new. This would make it easier for designers to set off on the open road toward true innovation and creativity.

Many designers would ask how different perspective can bring new creative solutions. To better understand this, they should understand the way brain solves a problem. When we reach the “Eureka!” moment, it happens because our brain makes a solid connection between disparate ideas. This happened to Archimedes in the bathtub and web designers should also have an event that triggers a clever idea, which allows the brain to make the necessary connections.

When web designers face a puzzle during a project, be it functional or visual, they usually solve it by initially running through the common and obvious solutions, such as fonts that always work, button styles that everybody loves, design patterns that they are familiar with, webpage layouts that they have implemented so many times before and many others. But as soon as their brain runs out of workable ideas, web designers think that they have hit the wall and frustration follows. This “wall” is essentially our brain’s inability to establish new connections between creativity, old ideas and problems. They can’t connect to fresh ideas to find interesting and new solutions. But, experienced web designers find that they could un-stuck by seeing problems in new ways.

When properly trained, our right brain engages during the point of total frustrations. It can solve problems effectively by using images and associates problems freely with these. Then like magic, the connection is made and everything automatically falls into place. This could happen in really unlikely times, such as when a friend or spouse tells or shows us something. Ultimately, everything is there to allow us reach the “Eureka” moment.

Gaining New Perspectives

There are few things designers should do to inspire creative thought and asses at problems in a completely different way and allow their brain creates proper connections.

Examine Visuals

A good way to examine visuals is by printing them and throwing them up on the wall. It would be much easier to recognize patterns when we can examine visuals in close proximity instead relying too much on memory. These visuals may include candidates for website logos, main page layouts, content images and others. When printed out and laid out on the wall, our brain can make direct connections and quickly generate rough ideas

To gain inspirations, web designers can take between ten and twenty various user interface elements, print them and put them on the wall. Use sticky notes to record any idea and visualized solutions should be written immediately when designers see them. In some cases, designers are still stuck after doing this. When this happens, they should continue put up relevant inspirations, be it a nearly similar design pattern, layout or vibe. To get results, designers should keep printing visuals out, arranging and rearranging them until they see something. It is often necessary to include a few things that are completely different from what the designer and others have used.

In other cases, web designers already have some great competing ideas. Some designers are lucky to have clients that have done them the good service of bringing up some workable design ideas. But it’s necessary to evaluate them before entering the development phase. They should also print these visuals out and put them on the wall. It is important to look for things that work well and don’t work too well in certain situations. It is possible to spot many weaknesses of these ideas. Seeing the clichés can help designers to get completely new ideas and free them from tired, old ones. They can:

Try illustrations instead of photos
Remove or delete some items on the wall and see the result. This might reveal a previously unknown solution.
Shift emphasis on different sections of the webpage
Break the grid
Change colors

Explain Things Differently

Like the rest of us, many designers often describe a problem the same way over and over again. They could get attached to the same words during their career and stuck on semantics. It could happen when designers try to define new design, layout, UI elements and features. Languages can be very powerful and as visual-focused professionals, web designers might not be as tuned into this linguistic skill as they need to be. Often, they will shrug it off as things that copywriters should do instead. Visuals and copy are intricately intertwined, so it’s impossible to separate them from one another. Designers should make sure they use the right words and experiment with new ones. They can start by changing how things are explained in emails with clients and in presentation sessions. Also, they could add new labels on elements that didn’t have labels previously.

When working with copywriters, web designers should get involved in refining and solving language issue on the website. Copywriters are amazing sources of ideas on terminology and phrasing. It’s worth noting that new use of words can block productivity. Different terminology used by sub-teams can divide instead of unify. A brief meeting session could be needed to explain new convention on phrases or words used to avoid internal confusion. Have team members define proper use of new words to help them clarify everything related to the project.

Ask Questions Differently

Designers stuck because they need an answer. Problem is, they might not be asking the question correctly. When designers ask the same way over and over, they are likely to get similar answers. So, it’s important to rephrase common questions to gain new insights. Many times, the problem is related to visuals. It could be something in the layout that is distracting and causes other elements not to work properly. There’s also a possibility that the faulty element isn’t the actual problem, but instead elements around it.

Present Data Differently

On some projects, web designers could have problem pinpointing differences between feature sets. The team may have a number of options, but they keep going in circles while arguing on the proper directions. Eventually, someone finds a new thing and presents information that makes sense to the rest of the team. When working with data, web designers can try to visualize and show it in a different way. Could we reformat documentation and look at new parameters? Looking at present data in different way often allows web designers see many new things.

Analyze Everything Differently

After using a new bag of tricks and many fresh techniques, it is hard not to see the entire web design project from a different perspective. Now is the right time to put problems in a completely new model, by changing the data format, analytic format and storyboard. Project decision-makers could also benefit from additional data models.

Look at the Big Picture

Designers can see problems differently by looking at the big picture. Some problems are very specific and designers should look at how the can fit into the larger context. In a web design project, this may involve storyboarding how the entire website should be used, by taking into account psychographic and geographical locations of the users. Understanding the web design project this may help the team refine the entire strategy, while eliminating less efficient options. By zooming out, web designers can often realize that they have improperly approached the problem. Often, the big picture isn’t big enough and it’s necessary to expand everything, by revising the user flow or the strategy. Designers should also check whether the product requirements and features set make sense, which could happen if the product isn’t understood properly and they don’t zoom out wide enough.


Web designers may approach their next projects differently by establishing new ways at looking at the problems. There are more ways not mentioned in this article. Designers might try new tools, tests or project workflows. Good project leaders consistently look for areas where their team is blind and find ways to make the “elephant” looks like the real thing. Web designers should always feel their way around and look at everything from different dimensions. Problems look clearer when the project is viewed three-dimensionally. Designers shouldn’t consider a challenge is so simple that it doesn’t require additional facets for explorations. Those “Eureka!” moments may likely to arrive when designers really understand the problem.

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  • Editor