The graphic designer's guide to interactive design

How I built my first website

Designer and illustrator Geri Coady relearnt everything she knew about web design

Geri Coady’s brief was designing a website for herself. The Canadian designer had dabbled in web design before and had a “passable knowledge of HTML”. But having not actively practised web design for four years while studying print, she returned to an area newly obsessed with tidy code, strong semantics and designing for myriad devices. “It was overwhelming. Previously, my sites were full of presentational markup, with tables output from Dreamweaver, but I buckled down and soaked up as much information as possible.”

She set about designing a site to showcase her work and incorporate a blog – the idea was not to use an existing portfolio site. “I gathered content and wrote copy, using this information to design a site map, and kept it as simple as possible,” she says. “I then sketched on paper until confident of my direction. I fleshed the design out a little more in Photoshop until I felt ready to write in HTML”. She never created a pixel-perfect mock-up in Photoshop, instead fine-tuning typography and other design aspects in the browser.

Geri recommends print designers leave behind the idea of designing a page online: “Print is permanent, but you can go back and edit a website.” She also says the next time she will take a ‘mobile-first’ approach to ensure her site is fully optimised for various devices.

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