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Design On a Development Site, Not in a Mockup!

Design On a Development Site, Not in a Mockup!


In the realm of website design, the journey from conception to completion is a complex process that involves various stages. One of the most critical steps in this process is the creation of a mockup, an artistic rendering or model of the proposed design. However, as we've learned from our experience designing and building over 500 websites, it's crucial to transition swiftly from the mockup phase to the development site stage.

Mockups are Static, Not Interactive

A mockup, typically created using tools like Photoshop, provides a static visual representation of what the final website might look like. It can include elements such as text, images, buttons, layout, color schemes, and branding elements. While mockups are useful for visualizing key design aspects and facilitating discussions among stakeholders, they have their limitations. They are non-interactive and cannot fully capture the dynamic nature of a live website.

Websites (and Development Sites) are Interactive

Websites are not static entities; they are interactive, responsive, and constantly evolving. This dynamism is something a mockup, being just an image, cannot adequately convey. Therefore, while we do create a quick mockup to establish a general layout and vibe, we advise our clients not to dwell too much on it. Instead, we seek their approval on the overall direction and quickly move to the build phase.

The build phase involves coding a development site based on the approved mockup. This is where the detailed work begins. A development site is interactive, allowing clients to engage with it in a way they can't with a mockup. It offers a more realistic representation of the final product, making it easier for clients to provide feedback and for designers to make necessary adjustments.

Top ten reasons why designing with a development site is more beneficial than relying solely on a mockup:

  1. Interactivity: Development sites are interactive, offering a more realistic user experience compared to static mockups.
  2. Responsiveness: They allow for testing of the website's responsiveness across different devices and screen sizes.
  3. Real-time Adjustments: Changes can be made and viewed in real-time on a development site, speeding up the design process.
  4. Functionality Testing: They enable testing of various functionalities, which is not possible with mockups.
  5. SEO Optimization: Development sites allow for SEO elements to be incorporated and tested.
  6. Performance Evaluation: They provide an opportunity to evaluate the website's loading speed and overall performance.
  7. Navigation Testing: The ease of navigation can be assessed and improved on a development site.
  8. User Experience: They offer a more accurate representation of the final user experience.
  9. Client Confidence: Development sites can boost client confidence as they can see and interact with a working model of their website.
  10. Efficiency: Lastly, designing with a development site is more efficient as it eliminates the need to recreate the design from a mockup to a live website.


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