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Why you should design before you build.

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A common argument I see occurring in web dev communities centers around whether or not you should design your website using a design program like Sketch or Adobe XD (and if you’re real old school, Photoshop), or if you should simply design the site as you build it. 

Everyone has an answer and the conversations can be a bit heated at times. 

Here is my opinion on the matter … 

If you want to design cookie cutter sites, by all means skip straight to your favorite page builder plugin and start plugging away. However, if you want to achieve creative designs, slow your process down a bit and use a design software to begin your web projects. 

To be as creative as possible, we need to remove as many barriers and limitations to our creativity as possible. And while page builders have come a long way, they are still, first and foremost, web development tools, not web design tools. Often times,  truly unique designs require some level of CSS or plugin to accomplish. When designing your site using a page builder, you have to pause your design process each time you need to hunt down some code or find a plugin to pull off what you want to try and achieve. 

You don’t have these roadblocks when using a design program. There’s no need to stop designing and search for answers or solutions, you can continue to dream of ways to enhance your designs. Each time we have to pause our design process, the design suffers. 

It’s true, you can probably finish your website quicker without spending time in a design program but your designs will suffer as a result. In my opinion, to achieve better designs and better development, we need to keep the design phase and the development phase as two separate processes.

If your end goal isn’t to achieve great looking designs and you’re ok with having a site that looks like most of the other sites on the web, then jump straight to development. But know this — it’s far harder to separate yourself from other web developers when operating this way. (Unless you have other skills to help compensate like being a CSS or marketing guru.)

By spending longer time in the design phase, you create stronger looking designs, which allows you to charge more money for your sites. I average about 5-7 hours in my design software per website, the rest of my time is spent in development and yet I can charge about double what many of my colleagues charge for a site. Why is this? Because my clients want something that looks unique and sets them apart from their competitors and they’re willing to pay for that. 

Finally, it’s worth noting that you can actually develop your sites MUCH faster when you know exactly how the site should look before you begin building it.

As it becomes easier and easier to build a website, the demand for better designers is only going to grow. Try to slow your process down a bit and become a betterdesigner — your clients will thank you (with money 💰💰💰). 

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If you don’t have a go-to design software, you can get started with Adobe XD or Figma for free…or you can try out Sketch for $99/yr. 

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I’m on Instagram! I recently created an instagram account as a way to connect with more of you. Please feel free to follow me at @boost_your_designs.

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Send me your questions! I love hearing from you and want to know where you are stuck in the design process. Hit me up with your questions! 

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