I am a huge fan of design books. I get them whenever I can to get inspiration or to glean a new design method, style or technique. A few days ago a box that was smaller than I expected arrived with my latest haul.
Within its cardboard goodness contained four titles from the good people at HOW. I took advantage of one of their incredible sales. I strongly recommend signing on to their email list.
Anyway, one of the titles that I purchased was The Essential Principles of Graphic Design by Debbie Millman. The title is somewhat misleading; it is a compilation of case studies by some great designers and strategists. They write about projects and give insight into their process which is always welcome information. On the whole, it’s a fantastic book, even better at only $9. She’s aces in my book; her favorite design color is orange.
One of the contributors, Hillman Curtis, wrote about his process for creating the design for the New York Metropolitan Opera website. One of the points that he made was to design/wireframe the sub pages first and do the home page last. His reasoning is that through small design changes on the sub pages, the character of more important pages will be more clearly defined. He has a point and I am expanding my rationale for doing so.
I am now a convert because I’d like to devote more design and strategic energy to the pages that people actually use. When those pages are perfected, then the kicking it up a notch for landing/home pages will be much easier as the personality of the site has already been established through the sub pages; color schemes, font usage, proportions, etc. will tend to reveal themselves.
Another benefit of this “reverse engineering” is to create a site where content is paramount. Pages are designed to fit their content, not to fit a style established by a tricked-out home page. Secondly, the home page design will reflect the actual content and the navigation can be built with that consideration in mind, not just the aesthetic.
If anyone designs this way or adopts this method, I’d love to hear from you.