Changes in the Creative Process

In today’s arena, ideas are no longer communicated strictly visually, but interactively. Responsive Design has changed the game: Web designs are no longer static, but need to provide different layouts to devices based on the size of the browser window.

Understand limitations, and small things designers can do to make the hand-off to the developer a smooth transition. Designers are ensuring their designs translate better into a web-based medium with a basic understanding of programming languages.

The Creative Process and the Developer

It’s imperative that graphic designers and developers collaborate. Too often a designer has a vision…promises the client…and runs into a wall when they take it to the developer. Below are the 5 steps to the creative process, and where the developer fits.



  1. Understand the project, research, prepare and brainstorm. Investigate your audience, and how to achieve a visual solution to the problem. What is the purpose of the website? Ask relevant, targeted questions of the client and understand their motivations. Where the Developer fits in: The developer should attend initial client meetings to ensure form follows function. Find out clients needs both immediate and long term. A simple portfolio site could eventually end up as an ecommerce stock photo site. Allow the developer to have input on technological possibilities and limitations.
  2. Saturation
    Synthesize ideas using imagination. Conceptualizing themes and examine possible angles and directions. Begin to more clearly visualize an idea that captivates. Where the Developer fits in: This step is largely creative, but the developer should be kept in the loop. If the designer comes up with an idea that involves interactivity, or a shift in the user experience it’s best to run it by the developer to ensure feasibility.
  3. Incubation
    Let your ideas mature. Evaluate your idea and make sure all pieces of the puzzle really fit together. Revisit the original goals of the client and switch gears accordingly. Does it make sense? Is it fulfilling the goals in the Identify phase? Where the Developer fits in: Collaborate with the developer to ensure everyone is on the same page. Both designer and developer talk about how the ideas relate to the user experience, and how those ideas will be realized on the development side.
  4. Conceptualization
    After mulling over several ideas, you’re ready to start compiling your ideas. Look for ways to be inspired, and filter out concepts that don’t fit. Make sure both form and function are given equal balance. Where the Developer fits in: Collaboration ramps up between designer and developer. A developer typically thinks about how a page is going to work, not how visually pleasing it is. Designers need to be present so both needs are met. Manage expectations by strong communication.
  5. Execution
    Turn your ideas into the final product. Follow continuity and consistency throughout the process. The developer now takes over a large part of the process. Where the Developer fits in: The developer should have a strong grasp of what  is required, and the designer must understand that much of the development is “behind the scenes” programming that isn’t immediately resulting in a visual product. The designer is kept in the loop to ensure the vision is consistent.

So What do I do?

Following these steps are very important for every graphic designer. Also knowing how to leverage the tools we already use, such as Photoshop or Illustrator is important. A class such as Web and Mobile Design with Photoshop CC helps designers understand how to use grid systems, and properly create and save files so the developer’s job is easier.

Groups like Ascend Training also offer many free seminars helping you to make the transition from simply a designer to a well-rounded professional.