Design is an extremely important phase of a Web project. Careful design is a good investment and will save you money, because it is far less expensive to change things here than in later phases. In large projects, design can consume a disproportionate amount of the budget, from 30% to 35% or more.

Design begins with information design and architecture, where we brainstorm and organize the content to be presented. Next, in presentation design, we determine the "look and feel", and consider metaphors that might enhance the concept. We also determine media production values, meaning the relative quality of the media that can be produced within the proposed budget. In interactive design, we brainstorm on navigation, and other types of interactivity, including any Web application functionality.

Finally, it is time to narrow the brainstorms recorded from these sessions, and create design wireframes and mock-ups of each page template. These "design comps" solidify our decisions, and the details for producing final pages are recorded in the storyboard. Storyboarding usually requires two passes. The first pass is intended to translate narrowed material from the previous design sessions into producible detail specific to each page. After reviewing that information with the entire team, suggested modifications are added to the storyboard on the second pass.

Following the second pass, design comps are updated and optimized, and then generalized as reproducible templates by both the graphic production and programming team members. Production methods are refined, and both content and code is "componentized." During the coming production phases, these templates and components will be reused as much as possible, creating great efficiencies in production.

The storyboard resides on our secure project site, acting as a database for all details regarding site production, which facilitates one-to-many workgroup communication, and acts as "insurance" for not losing those hard-earned details.