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We build prototypes of bits and pieces but to be honest, I've found the whole jumping from sketchy paper layouts straight to HTML to be inefficient for us and the types of clients we often work with.
I get the whole MVP/Prototypes are the best thing for UI testing etc but I keep finding project after project that clients simply don't get it and the part where historically we would have sent a photoshop visual being removed causes them some anxiety because they don't have the ability to piece together a style/pattern library themselves (even when it's presented, they often need to communicate it to other members of their team).
The main problem for us tends to stem from there being a bit too big of a jump from initial sketches to wireframe style prototypes and then the application of their brand and style guide late in the process. They don't have a true feel for what their site might look like until quite late on.
I've tried this approach with a few clients in the last couple of years and to be honest, I'm going to back to providing a reasonable fidelity visual of a key page/pages of a site to help reassure. The caveat of course is that the visual is at a particular size and doesn't allow for the many variations in display but it will show a little more "complete" picture to a less technically/design minded client (typically that board member who is never in a meeting but swoops in at the last minute with feature demands).
It's not an ideal process but I feel providing a bit of a snapshot of a page with some branding applied and perhaps a feel for content would look like closer to completion helps build confidence at an early stage more than some sketchy HTML and it's a damn site quicker to communicate.
I'd still then jump to HTML at a reasonably early stage in a project but feel there's a decent case (for the type of projects and clients we work with at least) for not binning a decent quality visual at the moment.
I'm not sure I understand. Why would your HTML/CSS designs be any different (or as you say: less complete) than your Photoshop exports?
I found it quite interesting that you were talking about the certainty your client needs about knowing what the end result will be. This is a big issue why people like "finished" designs early on in the process.
I heard people say: "Showing your client a Photoshop mockup is the best way of showing them something their website will never look like." I hope we find ways of giving our clients certainty without showing them final designs in photoshop.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)
You don't need to give them absolute certainty. Just confidence.
I've heard all the quotes about how Photoshop isn't like "the responsive web" etc and I've happily drunk the KoolAid as much as the next man trying to find a good balance between code prototypes (costly in initial time to code relative to a rough visual), hard to ammend without lashing more HTML and CSS at something and quite often once a prototype has been through several rounds of feedback and tweaks, the code is so hacked up it needs rewriting anyway.
I've tried combining that approach with style guides which is a reasonable halfway house to establish a look and feel but again, if a client doesn't "get it" and can't piece together a style guide mentally then I no longer feel its worth my time to force the issue when I can give them a rough representation of their website.
In the many years of doing design work I've happily tried a lot of stuff and my earlier comment feels about right for my current projects and our clients and works for us.
As ever, your mileage may vary and depending on which person is flavour of the month on twitter or speaking at a conference you'll probably end up hearing some sort of absolute statement about how X is wrong, do Y or something like that!
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