How to Know When Your Web Design Is Done

How to Know When Your Web Design Is Done

Reader Comments (29)

  1. I once saw a quote from architect Helmut Jahn that went something like this:

    “The creative process is a subtractive process. When you can’t take anything else away, you know you’re done.”

    This is often true in web design. Remove all distractions to drive the focus of your visitors. If you want to make something more prominent, don’t make it bigger or louder. Create white space around it. Creation through subtraction…

  2. Great Point Pamela

    Your website is always a work in progress.

    Researching, Changing, Testing, Asking Feedback, Tweaking.

    Rinse and Repeat.

    Its a constant process.

    • It’s so easy to live this process with a website.

      After 25+ years in the world of print marketing, I still get a little thrill every time I have to make an update and it doesn’t involve new artwork sent to a printer.

  3. Just last week, after lots of tweeking, I changed over to the Minimum Pro theme. It was an important redesign and I am pumped that it is up and running and featuring some of my PR coups from last year.

    Of course now I need to review my “About” page…

  4. Pamela

    My own copywriting website has been live for nearly 18 months now. To me, it still feels like a building site. But it’s getting enquiries and the blog’s getting comments and shares.

    So I guess other people don’t notice the things I think need urgently fixing.

    And here’s the other thing – sometimes you’re not sure how you should set out the content on your About page or how to arrange your links above the fold.

    And it could be months before something inspires the solution and the penny finally drops.

    In other words, I couldn’t agree with you more. Just get it out there and start building your own digital footprint on the web.

  5. Hey Pamela,

    Great article! I agree that many of us get carried away with the design aspects of our websites just to avoid other crucial problems in our workplace. I also really liked what you had to say about separating your ego from your work.

    That’s incredibly hard to do for artists and other professionals alike. We’re programmed to believe our work is our path to survival, but that’s such a rough way to look at things. I agree we should try our best to segregate work from the rest of our lives.

    If we don’t, we’ll never be done with our projects. Thanks again for writing this! This was definitely a unique piece. I’m sharing it. πŸ™‚

  6. Wonderful piece, Ms. Wilson, very nicely done. It is essential to know when, the site is ready enough.

    After several websites through the years, I tend to agree with Seth Godin: Ship it, then fix it.

    Thank you for a truly great read.

  7. A huge issue with Web projects is whether to begin “small” or “large.” Having recently complete a Tech Project From Hell, I had to laugh at the following apt quote in a Cool Tools review of a classic (funny) book, The Systems Guide, by John Gall (formerly called Systemantics – because systems tend to behave antically):

    “A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. The parallel proposition also appears to be true: A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be made to work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system.”

    My advice: NEVER try to design a big website or application from scratch, unless you’ve already built the foundation from the bottom up, starting small.

    The project that drove us crazy was a free app for viewers of a really great film starring Elisabeth Rohm (American Hustle), Finding Happiness ( After six months and a couple thousand emails, we’re doing the right thing: climbing off the beanstalk and starting small.

    • George,

      Great advice to start simple and make it work before you add complexity.

      It’s tough, I think, because we spend so much time on highly complex websites.

      When it’s time to create our own, we figure they have to be as intricate and layered as the ones we use every day.

      But most of those sites started out simple and built up over the years. We’re seeing a highly-evolved version of the original idea, and shouldn’t compare it to the sites we’re creating from scratch.

  8. I’ll keep this simple. Pamela, YOU RULE!

    You get the web on all the levels.


  9. This is one of the more immediately usable and well-written articles on the subject of simplifying a web design, and serves as a good reminder even for the points that some people might already ‘know’.

  10. Oh thank goodness for this! I spent two months not getting started because I was always “working on my website” – and finally, I had the same realization. I could be working on it forever and never get anywhere. I know there are definitely some things I need to work on, but the basics of the site – as you mentioned in your post – are there. I’m still a little anonymous, and I’m still working on it.

    I also, though, have a new sense of loving all different types of websites, and I have a bit of website-envy. Hmmm, new project idea: make 10 different websites so I can have all the looks I like. Ok, maybe not, maybe I’ll focus on the business of my business instead. πŸ™‚

    Great post! Thank you!

  11. I worked off of a whack blog design for years….but because it was live, and not undone, and dead, I saw success. Go live. Crush the fear of criticism, and failure, and go live. Learn along the way, or befriend a talented developer/designer, to get your game up.

  12. Heck, I’ve been delaying getting a decent headshot. Does this piece “speak” to me? You betcha.

    One of my issues is one that Ira Glass of This American Life often discusses. You see I’ve got great taste…but holes in my skill set.

    As I’m closing those gaps, I’m gaining confidence. But the biggest push for me is the push to create. I can’t wait to get my hands back into the clay.

    Pamela, I can’t tell you how valuable and inspirational I’ve found your materials, both here as a Copyblogger regular and on your own site with your webinars.

    • The best way to develop those skills is to get out there and use them, right?

      I’m glad you’re getting your hands dirty and going for it, Lori!

  13. I agree with most of the sentiment in this article, but I never believe it’s “done”. SEO is constantly changing, so I guess while the design can change, there’s lot of behind the scenes tweaks that you can make in say 6-12 month intervals.

  14. How very timely. Will be sharing this with a client who seems stuck on the business building part of the process and is daily fiddling with the site, constantly breaking it!

  15. You should know when your web design is done by actually having a laid out plan and flow chart for your site, don’t deviate just for something flashy.

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