Designing the visual framework with InForm

Designing for InForm can be very simple, but it is also quite complicated.

It is simple because InForm does quite a lot of work for you behind the scenes in helping to keep your grid consistent and predictable.

It is not a conventional design task because rather than laying out a page which you have control of all the elements in, you are designing a framework within which your editors can express themselves and you therefore have to bear in mind the combinations and permutations that an editor might want to use.

New Designs

If we are starting from scratch on a project, either because the client doesn't have a website at all, or because their existing website has been deemed lacking from a visual perspective then there are a number of options as to how to move forwards.

1. client sourced designers

A client may have a design team that they like to work with and would like to utilise for their new web project.

There are a number of ways that a 3rd party designer can interact with us:

conceptual design
the designer supplies an indication of a style, and colour scheme and indication of the documents and grid, but it is up to to transform this into a layout that is capable of being implemented.
explicit layout mockups
the designer supplies us with accurate mockups of exactly how each page type should look like and we liaise with the designer to implement their vision as closely as possible.
design implementation
the designer supplies us with accurate mockups and CSS and / or webmacro templates to implement the design.

2. sourced designers

We have worked with various designers over the years. Have a browse of our portfolio and if you see someone's work that you like, then we can see whether they are available to work on your project. Working with a designer for the second (or third...) involves less of a learning curve on both sides so can be more efficient and therefore more cost-effective.

3. design

We are happy to design the layout for sites ourselves. If you have a concrete paper identity already which we are able to utilise as a starting point for building a web presence around then this can be a very efficient way of working. However we are not "designers" in the purest sense - if you need a new logo designing from scratch then we would prefer to work with a 3rd party designer.

Existing Designs

If a client already has a website with a design that they are happy with, then we can utilise this design over the InForm CMS to give access to the editing facilities while preserving the existing look and feel.

Paper versus CMS Design

It is worth noting that making a design for a CMS is different from laying out a paper design where all of the assets are known in advance, and all the proportions and layout can be balanced to a pleasing point which the designer can put their stamp on.

When you design for a CMS then you have two primary responsibilities:

  • to design the assets and dimensions of the site such that it will continue to fit with the conceptual design of the site regardless of what content an editor may choose to drop into it.
  • to design the layout and styling of the range of presentational options that are presented to an editor for their content such that it gives them the freedom to express themselves while still preserving a consistent look and feel.

These are not impossible tasks, but sometimes the learning curve to anticipate what "might happen" in the future can prove difficult for designers who are more used to working in more controlled circumstances. We are happy to work with designers on these aspects, but this process can sometimes add unexpected time and therefore cost to a project. It can therefore sometimes be cost effective to either work with designers who are familiar with the challenges, or to supply conceptual designs which can then be implemented by staff.