I was lucky enough to get to two workshops at this very well-organized conference in Denver (just an hour away, how could I not go?). One came free with my paid registration on Dec. 1 as a special deal; the other was a freebie from John Allsop by way of apology for some Paypal issues with my registration payment. So I got two for the price of, well, none…

First thing Monday morning after a not-too-unreasonable drive down from Fort Collins was Elliot Jay Stocks’ excellent talk about the design process. There were about 30 attendees; most called themselves designers (from freelancers to agency employees or in-house designers) and the rest were either developers or people brand new to the field, whether by choice or by necessity.

I was very pleased to learn that about 95% of Elliot’s process overlaps my own – or at least what my own would be given a large enough budget and enough time. A few things stood out as differences; most prominent were wireframes and prototypes.

I kind of do my wireframes in my head. I do sketch them out on paper, but I don’t really work these up in Photoshop or another tool, and I never present them to a client. I suppose if I had a really large project I would be more inclined to include this step but so far, I haven’t found it essential.

I’ve never done a working prototype. When I work up designs they’re in Photoshop and I send them to the client as .jpg’s or .pdf’s. Elliot’s ideas included using the .jpg as a background image for a simple web page, with invisible links over the clickable parts of the image so that the client could at least get a basic impression of how things would work.

I could do this. I’m not sure if it wouldn’t just confuse some clients who might think (as many in the room brought up) that the prototype was the final, finished web page. I can totally see that happening.

In any event I got some ideas on how to refine or fill out my own design process and it was well worth the four hours of workshop time.

More about the other workshop later.