194 – Static design v in-browser design

Debate with Nathan Wrigley and David Waumsley

Poor audio warning! I have no idea what happened this week; sometimes David’s audio is poor due to the vagaries of the internet, but mine is almost never that bad, but some gremlin got into my system this week! It’s not that bad, it’s certainly listenable, but I just thought that I’d warn you in advance in case you’re an audiophile!

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So the subject of the podcast today is where to design your WordPress website. Should you be doing this with a range of dedicated apps, or are the tools that are now available in the browser enough?

Setting up the Debate

We’d like to thank Tim from Tickyboom for suggesting the topic this week!

Over the years we’ve done this podcast we have both talked about how  WordPress Page Builders have moved us away from the traditional static design (made in Photoshop or similar) to starting and finishing in the Page Builder.

We’ve even warmed to the idea of using templates or templated sections as conventions about page layouts have become more informed by research on conversion rates.

But we have more interactive prototyping tool now with Adobe XD, Sketch and Figma (et al.) so it’s time to look at this again.

Static design – David

  • Better designs – stops you designing to constraints of the Page Builder
  • The prototype tools like Adobe XD allow you to revert back to old versions
  • Keep a consistency with element spacing 
  • You can do art / mood boards and wireframes quickly
  • Get all you image sizes right first – playing with fonts is quicker too
  • Faster – if we have greater restrictions on layout of content, things can get boxy and predictable… if you want lots of overlapping elements or you have have vertical text you do more with vectors, even if that’s only blob backgrounds
  • It keeps everyone more focussed on aesthetics 
  • The tools can be used in a quick way to get an ‘okay’ from clients on the initial look and feel… is something like this what you had in mind?
  • Easier to share 
  • Better for team working… the designer can get on with their thing while the developers do theirs
  • You might even get a better designer with new ideas if they have not been too influenced by creating webpages – gives you challenges you might not think of
  • Avoids you looking at easy whizz-bang animations to make up for poor design
  • If you do want nice animations, you may be back in the graphics tool anyway with animated gifs or newer things like Lottie 
  • There is a problem with sterile design coming from Page Builders. We see more people moving to hand drawn graphics, which you can only get from the graphic tools

In browser – Nathan

  • Faster in term of getting started – saves money, because you’re familiar with how it all works
  • Lets you test speed and resources used as you work – it is all theory on paper
  • You may think about or spot issue with browsers and device earlier
  • Sets an expectations for client earlier (when I have been given designs, I have so many question myself, usually about what is full width or not)  
  • It allows you to accommodate lower budget client without losing out  
  • Lets you experience the interactions earlier (could save issues of poor usability)
  • Animations – easily!
  • Allows you give editor rights to clients for better collaboration
  • Don’t waste time on design that will not translate to the web
  • Get them used to the tool that they will be using
  • The client can be taught about WordPress
  • Less dislocation from designer to me – ‘I can’t really do that with the tools I have’ conversation
  • The browser is the future and things like Chrome OS in schools means that the next generation are all about the browser, it’s what they know and what they’ll be using more and more

Final thoughts

David: It’s rare that I don’t open a graphic program. My approach is more towards the browser. My approach is agile anyway and I don’t really want all the budget to go on design if none is going on traffic and conversion.

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Nathan: I’m the same as David in that I really try to use the browser as much as humanly possible. This was not always the case, but now that the tools have evloved to the point where they are now, we can do almost 100% of it in the browser if the clients are willing!

BTW – Do you remember Page Maker, Quark, InDesign? David still uses Fireworks!

If you’ve enjoyed this conversation, please feel free to subscribe to hear about our latest content. Also, join our Facebook Group and get in touch with like-minded WordPress people!

Mentioned in this episode…

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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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Nathan Wrigley: [00:00:00] Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news. He's from the WordPress community. Welcome your host, David Walmsley, Nathan Wrigley.
Hello there and welcome to the WP Builds podcast. Once again, and this is episode number 194 and titled static design versus in browser design, it was published on Thursday, the 27th of August, 2020, my name's Nathan Wrigley, and a few bits and pieces of housekeeping before we begin, w P belts produces lots and lots of words, press content each and every week we have this, the podcast that you're listening to now.
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Go and check it out and get a free demo at AUB split. test.com. Okay. So episode number 194 static design versus in-browser design. What's that all about? Well, perhaps you're wedded to your tool of choice could be something like Photoshop or the Adobe suite of tools or sketch or something like that.
Perhaps though you're more in tune with things based in the browser. That could be your page builder. It could be something like Adobe XD. We're wondering today and debating today, whether or not it's become time to ditch those proprietary apps and just start using apps within the browser, perhaps just using a page builder, perhaps familiarizing your clients with WordPress from the get go.
It's interesting. A few years ago, this debate would have been pointless because the technology didn't exist. The apps didn't exist, but now they do. So I joined David Wamsley today, as we debate it, I hope that you enjoy it.
David Waumsley: [00:04:10] Hello, today's debate is static design versus in browser design. Uh, Nathan and I have talked about this a few times during the time that we've been doing this podcast.
And as people who use a page builder, we've kind of moved very much away from that traditional static design. Usually. Or previously made with Photoshop or something similar to start using the page builder. So I thought it might be quite good fun to revisit this, particularly as Tim from Tickey, boom, again, as offered this as a suggestion.
So Nathan, you're going to take the position that we generally take, which is in browser design. And I'm going to take the static design side.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:04:56] Yeah. Yeah. I feel like I've got an easy, I've got an easier time than you this week.
David Waumsley: [00:05:02] Indeed. I got those ways. I set myself up for this one. Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:05:06] Anyway. Yeah. I dunno.
I dunno why you do this. You always come up with these controversial subjects and give yourself the hard side. I
David Waumsley: [00:05:12] know, but things happen. I moved on and I think this is why it's worth revisiting because we're a little bit stuck in the past because we were not designers. And we're not up to speed with all these new interactive proto-typing tools that are out there, particularly Adobe XD and sketch, you know, a little bit about sketch, but there's a new one figure as well, which I didn't even know about until I started researching this.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:05:37] There's also another one that I, um, that I saw recently, Paul Lacey and I were doing something together and he showed me too another name of it has gone out of my head, but it. Strangely it's in browser, but, but it also sort of carries over some of the, some of the qualities of what I'm going to talk about today.
So we'll just conveniently ignore that one because it's,
David Waumsley: [00:05:58] yeah, these are kind of, I mean, I think Adobe XD is online so effectively you can kind of prototype and get an online experience. Let me put forward then the arguments. I think are out there. There was a particularly good video. Again, I'm probably need to find you the link for this one, which was talking about I'm using Adobe XD first, rather than Elementor in this case to mockup things.
And the argument really on borrowing. A lot of that is that. It's so much quicker. So I'll give you my main points. It's really, it's the fact that the belief is that by going in browser, you're saving some time. Now his argument is pretty much against that. It's because of the fact that you can go in there and you can kind of set up a load of pages, which could be interactive and link to each other.
And rather than would say WordPress or page builder, you would need to make sure you knew the sizes of your images before you uploaded them. Because you would need to change them all again. And that's a big hassle. If you have to go and remove all those images from your media gallery, because you've decided to change your mind, same with fonts as well.
You can try out different fonts, very quickly setup all these different boards and design things. And also is that if you're working with a client that can see things, you can set up some art boards, some mood boards or whatever you'd like to call them, or some wire frames first, you can quickly revert back.
To a design that they liked earlier. So they have a change of mind. You can't do all that kind of stuff on the page builder so easily, you can't kind of show them a range of things and move things. So speedily, as you could do on something like Adobe XD, that's kind of the main point. Yes.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:07:39] Yeah. The, I suppose the, the thing that just comes to mind straight away for me is just the, the fact that you've got to relearn.
When I say relearn, I mean, you've got to learn another tool. And in the case of something like. In my case photo shop is just a, it's a, my asthma. You know, if I go in there, I've basically now forgotten and what every tool does. And whilst at some point in the distant past, I used to know what the loss of it did.
I've kind of forgotten. And that knowledge has just slipped out of my. Out of my consciousness. And so for me, it would be a question of relearning so that I think that's the biggest impediment. Nobody can deny that the stuff that comes out the other end, it looks fabulous. Um, and if you've got the process and you know, the key strokes and you understand how to move things around and crop things and all of that stuff, then it's fabulous.
But the impediment for me is simply more time learning another tool. And the problem, I think. Is that there's always another tool. You know, you mentioned Adobe XD, which is relatively new, presumably there's a learning curve to that. I guess if you're in the Adobe sphere of influence, there's probably similarities and, you know, icons that are similar and understandable if you use Photoshop and so on, but then, you know, you might be beguiled by sketch or figure that you mentioned, and then you've got to learn all those again.
So I think that's my primary. Reason why I stay in the browser. You're right. It is a time sock. Um, everything that you've described is true, you know, uploading the images, which then needs to be removed and cropped and all of that stuff. Correct. But it's just the time from learning a new tool. And some of these tools are careers in themselves, you know, I don't think anybody could deny that Photoshop.
If you get truly brilliant at Photoshop, that's a career.
David Waumsley: [00:09:27] Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:09:29] So the argument really
David Waumsley: [00:09:30] for in browser is, you know, you're a bit shoddy. Would you work? Go in browser
Nathan Wrigley: [00:09:35] that's yeah, basically. That's what I'm saying. Yeah. If you, if you just can't be bothered to learn a new skill and you don't, you don't really think that you've got, you've got the mental capacity to take it off, stay in the browser.
No, I mean, in my case, I've spent so long. Inside my page builder of choice, which is Beaver builder. That it's kind of, it's just so familiar. Yeah. And all of those little things, which are. Errors, you know, the little tiny errors which creep in over on the process of designing things. I say errors. I mean, things that, you know, we'll probably have to be on Dom.
It really doesn't take me that long to do them. And also you get a certain, you get a certain feeling of what it really shouldn't need to be on done. So, as an example, you used images. There's no way I'm going to upload the entire suite of images. I'll probably just upload one or two, which are fairly generic and scope.
You know, if it's an engineer and company, a picture of some pipes or something like that, and just reuse them all over the place and you know, then I'll obviously have to go back and do that work, but I'd have to do that work anyway. Right. There's no, there's no point. Yeah. Which I wouldn't have to go in and fiddle with those images.
And so. Yeah, it's familiarity like anything. I've got a friend who, who is truly brilliant at photo shop. I mean, just amazing. And she, I sat with her before lockdown and honestly, the stuff that she could achieve in seconds, and I didn't even know what she was doing. She was just, you know, she was doing everything on a Mac and she was actually using the key part on the Mac, you know, rather than a mouse.
Cause we were sat outside. And it was just a complete blur and things were happening at such a tremendous rate. And so in that case, you know, fair enough. That's the best way to do it, but for me, it, I guess it's a time money, uh, quandary.
David Waumsley: [00:11:20] Yeah, I do. You know what I mean? I go, I never got it Photoshop. Well, I did a little bit.
I used it for photos surprisingly enough. Yeah. And I understood it there, but when it came to, uh, all this kind of layers of mass, I didn't get it. And the one that worked for me, which is now gone really is a fireworks and this makes it another point. Really? Maybe. About these new tools is that a lot of the design now is based on that size it's based on is based on vectors.
Yeah. And, uh, it's quite tricky to do that, that kind of stuff. Isn't it. I don't think you can do it in Photoshop. So, you know, if you want. Yeah. A lot of our designs that have those little blobs and stuff on it or shapes in the background, but even so even if we're moving now towards a lot of kind of animated gifts as well, which will be vector based, a lot of those kinds of things.
So I, these are things that you couldn't do back to this, my argument you couldn't do in the browser. So you still end up back in one of these tools having to learn it. I think.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:12:21] Yeah, the, I think also that it creates a bit of a mismatch as well, and I'm surely it's possible to achieve anything just about in the browser that you can achieve in Photoshop, given ultimate amount of resource and ultimate amount of time.
I'm sure that virtually any design could be pulled off, but you know how the world is. That's not the world that we're presented with. We're presented with minimal budgets and clients who were on a shoe string and have limited time. And, and so sometimes I think that. These fabulous things which are built into, let's say sketch and tool similar to that, you know, you can drag and drop these user interface items and what have you, they're just so darn glorious and lovely looking.
And then you think, well, how am I going to achieve that? And actually when I've worked fairly recently with this designer, I've I've had to sort of coach them into what's really possible for me. And I've had to really reign in their scope and just say, look, we're basically working on rows that, you know, just keep it to Rose.
Everything needs to be horizontal. Ultimately now you can expand that horizontal section as much as you like really, but try to keep it in rows and you know, maybe images over here, texts over here, you know, in other words, don't go crazy. Like it's a magazine. And in that process just sort of works for me.
And it creates a, ultimately it does create a bit of a boring internet, but it also creates websites that are price point, which my clients can cope with.
David Waumsley: [00:13:43] Yeah. It's really hard to argue with that. And I think one of the older arguments against, you know, talking about reigning somebody in used to be the fact that people would design for the desktop.
And I'm not give you a mobile version of that. And I don't think tools the earlier tools bounce really made that easy. Yeah. And, and this is one of the arguments I think for thinking about static design again, is, is that the new prototyping tools haven't really thought about that? I mean, something like Doby XD, which I haven't tried, but I've seen plenty of videos on it.
You know, they've really spent four years kind of. Building that up, getting feedback haven't they, and, and they've listened to what people need. So it's designed, so you can do your mobile version and, you know, and set those up interactively as well. So I can see, you know, if you've learnt those skills, it's going to be really high if you were somebody new and then now it definitely, yeah.
It'd be worth considering, even if you've got. Clients who are in a kind of lower budget, it's still might save you time.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:14:47] Yeah, I suppose if you, if you were ultimately able to pull that stuff off, there's really no, there's really no reason you should constrain yourself and not look at that. You know, the idea of sort of static design.
It's just nothing wrong with doing it that way. As far as I can see. If you're capable, I suppose, coming back to the point that I made earlier, it's just a question of time, really, for me. And also, you know, we've all seen that I've got very gray hair. I'm adult David, that learning new things is tremendously difficult.
My brain is as has given up on creating new cells. And so I have to just cope with the old cells. And so pushing new information in is, is terrifically hard. Also another point is that. I think clients, I personally, I kind of like to show them the interface that they're going to see it in. So, you know, here you are on a desktop and in fact, more and more.
I'm finding that clients are looking at it on their phone, you know, you're on the telephone to them. They quickly, you can tell that they've taken it off their ear and they're having a look. You know, they're looking at looking at it in their browser. They're looking at it on their phone. They're looking at it on their tablet, tablet, by the way, seem to sort of be going away.
Don't they, I don't really know. Excuse me. Seems to get too many people questioning about tablets anymore. Don't know if that's a dying thing or, but anyway, um, it just, yeah. Sets up that expectation of this is what it's going to be like, here's what it's going to, here's the interface. This is the menu.
This is exactly how it'll work might not be that font might not be that size, but it will be over there and you'll click that button and it sets it up and it stalls problems right at the beginning.
David Waumsley: [00:16:21] Yeah. Do you know, just to counter your argument about learning all the new tools and the time that you need to put into that.
My old colleague who I got most of my work from, she, her practice was just, just knock somebody up a very quick. And it was very basic looking on some, I don't know what tools you use. It was an early Seriff, um, your tool, not like the new month kind of modern ones. Um, and, and, um, And that's what she would send over.
So the most of the clients were on a budget. Then she would send over this real rough mock up with roughly the fonts who was going to use the colors, some sort of box areas with a few photos in, and some gobbledygook texts, just to give an idea and get a sign off on that. I mean, it literally would have only taken a, you know, minutes to do it 15 half an hour at the most to do that, to get a sign off.
And, and I kind of worked and I. I used to surprise me a little bit because I mean, I'm mostly, I had to make this work responsively and she hadn't always thought about that. So there was a bit of an issue, but I thought it was a great way of getting, if they accepted that and let us get on with it, then we could get on with our work and get that out of the way.
So there is some merit to that and that didn't, you know, she didn't require any real. Technical skill to do that. I mean, anybody could easily knock that up on one of the online programs that there are around at the moment.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:17:42] Yeah. Yeah. And, and again, if she could do that in a matter of minutes, that completely demolishes my argument about learning things and what have you, which again is fine.
The, um, it is interesting though, it brings Springs to the front of the debate, that the whole point of what you're doing this for, and that is, you know, if you've got a client who literally. You know, if you can perceive in advance and I know you can't, but if you could work out in advance, so they just don't care about these mockups.
They're just not that interested. They're just not that kind of, then in a sense, you could just side step the whole thing and just get on with the website and present them with more or less the finished article. And they might grow up a bit and moan, but I've definitely had that swing in both directions.
I've had people where I've done all the mockups and it's pretty clear that that was an absolute waste of time. Because they're just not, not interacted with it. You know, their immediate reaction is, well, why is it all the wrong color and why aren't the images in the right place? I've sent you all the images, where are they?
Okay. That's not what this is about, you know? And you just, they just want to see the finished article. So I've had those and then I've had other people who were, I thought that they didn't really need the mockups. I showed them they were disinterested. And then I got to the point of doing the actual website and then they fretted about every single detail.
You know, warm and pixel alignment, incorrect with images and the font being one, I don't know, one pixel too large compared to something that is off the viewport, but you know, still on the same page. Yeah. Kind of thing. So it swings and roundabouts. You got to work it with your client, I guess.
David Waumsley: [00:19:13] Yeah. I, I completely no, that, and I do think you're right.
I mean, I think that people use to kind of early sign off on Maria's early mockup that she did my colleague, um, they, they could go either way that mostly it was the fact that he just wanted you to get on with it and they weren't at that point. That interested and whether they became interested at a later stage, they had to have something to criticize first up there.
Right. So it will help little bit in sense that you would get this fairly first idea about what they were expecting. So you could move on and get there, but you didn't know how it was going to work out, but an argument may be. For the static design. First is the fact that if you need to control that process yes.
Before you start building, I mean, that's tradition, isn't it? Because it used to take so long to build before page builders, you had to do the static design to get the commitment. So you didn't waste the time. Maybe there's still an argument and, and, and an argument for stolen. Going down that route, if you can, where clients, I mean, if they bypass it, that's another thing.
But still having that in your toolbox to say, let's do this as a design where we will get, you know, your brand in and layout your, you know, your architecture and everything sorted on paper. Before we start building it, it still might be a good way of getting them to focus early. If, if the title like the person who are, who is going to be very particular later down the line, because if they are.
Then you've not saved yourself money, have you, if you haven't to,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:20:45] yeah. That's a good argument. Have you have you in your, and I know your business model is different to mine in that sense, but do you offer. The capability to have, let's say at a different set of mockups made. So going back, I don't know, five, six, seven years before I was touching a page builder, this was crucially a part of the process.
I would always have some kind of design done, and it was usually in Photoshop, which was then flattened into a PDF or something like that. So that client could look at it in their own time and I would offer. As many of those as they wanted, you know, so I would say, right we'll we can do one for you.
That's the bare minimum. But if you want a completely different one, I'll get a completely different designer to do exactly the same amount of layout. You know, the about us page, the contact form, the homepage or whatever, but you'll have to be charged twice and yeah. And I've had clients who've done that two, three, four times, and then picked, you know, they had enough money that they wanted to really get a whole suite of different ones.
They paid for it. They were happy with it. And then ultimately they just picked one and it was quite nice for the designers as well. Cause they were, they never really got into that whole process of feeling rejected because in the end, I never really told them which one. Made the final cut, which was, which is good.
I think, cause you know, if you got two people who, well, sorry, they didn't like your design, it was loaded rom not working with you again. Um, so I always used to do that, but then the advent of the page builders just kind of eclipsed that. And I do wonder, I do wonder about that whole industry, you know, graphic designers who've turned into graphic designers for the web.
I wonder if that's a shrinking industry because of the ease of use of tools.
David Waumsley: [00:22:33] Yeah. And you know what I mean, this isn't helping my case, but you, you were saying about the tools themselves, what it should be able to be done in the, the page builder will be in the future. Anyway. So even if we've got Adobe XD, they spent four years developing this.
You can't help, but think that the technology will just still go back into the browser, into the website you're building eventually. Anyway, and I think about this, somebody asks me a question, uh, one of the forums. Uh, about texts like the asset generally, but, and I know realize something that I didn't know before that you could do that.
I always only thought you could do visually in a graphics program. And that was to curve, text around an arch. So you could have circled text if you like, or any shape of
Nathan Wrigley: [00:23:17] texts. No. Yeah, you can do that with CSS. Can't you? Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:23:21] Well, yeah, well, you could do on individual letters, but you can do it now with SVGs.
You can follow the path through that. And there's a lot of that I think SVGs are taking over so I can see a lot of, a lot of the vector designs I was talking about as an excuse to go back to graphics
Nathan Wrigley: [00:23:35] programs. I see.
David Waumsley: [00:23:36] I can see it's going to be easy to manipulate this or get easier over time to use this.
Yeah, the browser. So making your vectors for the web using SVGs will probably become a thing and, and being able to treat your text as well. So I'm arguing your case now.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:23:53] Well, no, that's good. Thank you so much. You've got something. I think that people like Google, at least the Chrome team and Mozilla and the guys over at Safari and, and all of these different browsers, you've got to be thinking that that the long view.
Is that yeah. In the end, a computer is just a conduit to the internet. You know, if you, if you go back 10 years, well, maybe a bit more, you think about the capabilities of what the internet could do, what your browser could do. And. Even things like movement, being able to drag something around on a page on the internet was just inconceivable.
And now it can do so much, you know, you think about, think about when Google maps came around, you just thought, how, how on earth did they do that? And now it just seems like trivial stuff. And you've highlighted all these recent technologies. I've got a suite of. I'm going to call them sort of Adobe Photoshop replacements.
I mean, they're fairly poor relations, but in browser things, you know, I'm thinking of stencil and Canva and I've got one called pics teller and they can do quite a good job of heavy lifting. I mean, they can't do everything by any stretch of the imagination, but you've got to think that the aim of the browser manufacturers is to make the browser capable of doing.
All of those things. Um, and I don't know how long down the road that'll be. Maybe it'll be another decade or, but Google. Especially has a real, it has real skin in the game here because of their chromo S offering, which I know is being adopted like wildfire in schools, all the schools that my kids go to, this is basically the deal fault.
Now you, you work on a, on a Chrome laptop. If you want to do video editing or music, music department, and the sort of the art departments seem to be. Still with PCs or Macs because, you know, you just can't do that stuff in the browser yet, but just about everything else, document creation and research and making PowerPoints and all that.
It's just Don in the browser on Chrome devices. And so there's a generation of kids who are growing up thinking. This is what, this is, what a computer is. It's a thing which switches on in three seconds and connects to the internet and everything is available via a URL. And yeah. And so WordPress is sort of going like that as well.
You look at the pushes that they're making to. To give us full site editing capabilities and blocks, which increasingly are looking as if they're going to really collide with the page builder space. Give it another 18 months. And I'm sure there'll be real, real similarity in the offerings. Then I, it just makes sense to me to show the client, the tool that they're ultimately going to use, because in the end, you're going to be handling this website over to them in the hopes that they, they can use it.
And if they can understand what they're using during the design process and interact with WordPress, that just seems like a bit of a win as well.
David Waumsley: [00:26:47] Yeah, I can't disagree with that. I mean, the way things are going to it is going towards in browser and, and even if Adobe offers something which might solve a load of problems, now they're going to be solved in the browser.
I'm sure of it. I'm sure you're right. Maybe another take on this. Um, let me go from another angle. So. Designs are getting very similar. We've said this quite a lot and isn't it true. Easy just to follow some of the templates or the things that you see in online or what your, what your page builder will kind of push you towards designing if you just stay within the browser.
So it's not an argument sometimes to just get. Out of the page builder offline and start to, I don't know, just look at the problem for them a different way. You know, even the idea of laying out your pages, you know, if it's on a napkin in a restaurant, just thinking differently to how you think when you're on line and looking at web pages, when you're online, there's a certain expectation and it doesn't make you think in a new way about the thing you're designing.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:27:54] Yeah. I, I completely totally agree. Actually. I know, I, I just can't deny that, you know, I guess if you're a designer, it must, it must irritate you massively the way the internet has gone recently, you know, the fairly formulaic design, the, the way things are laid out, the, you know, the, the header with a background image with a call to action, and then some.
Uh, I cons of companies that you work with great out underneath, and then, you know, three rows of testimonials. And so it goes, that's totally true. And if I was to pick up a magazine, I confess, I don't really do this anymore. Just say buying magazines, it's just sort of gone out of my life. He used to do it a lot.
It would, it would annoy me if every page looked the same. In fact, I would cease to buy it. I probably wouldn't even. Purchase it in the first place, you know? Um, and I think you're right. I think it's a shame that that sort of stuff is happening, but it's driven by the economics of the clients. Isn't it?
You know, they just want something, they want something which fits people's. Conception of what a website, a modern website is. And most times that's something formulate that the user doesn't have to think about. You know, they just open the page and they're fully understanding, right? The menus up there, the bottom I'll do this.
If I scroll a little bit, I'm very likely to see a map and a contact form and blah, blah, blah. Um, it's a shame and I hope that we don't get. You know, I don't, there's no period where quirky designs and interesting new designs cease to exist, but it seems less and less common to see innovation in design.
David Waumsley: [00:29:31] Yeah. I mean, there's a lot of move towards, uh, you know, overlapping because the formula is pretty much the same. So to break up, um, the boxiness of everything, there's a lot more overlapping elements that we get now, which is, it depends on the page builder you're using, but there's. Whichever way, there are some problems with that.
You know, if you're using a page builder that makes it very easy for you to overlap, it probably adds a lot more code than it actually needs to have to complete the finished thing. If you have a page builder that doesn't, then you've got all the time and the, you know, the drain on your resources to set that up, right.
Well, I just wonder sometimes, you know, you might come up with some more interesting overlapping kind of designs interest in sort of backgrounds with your, your vector backgrounds and that kind of thing that you might do if you would just did static. If you just had a, a program that can move stuff around easy.
And then when you really happy with the look of it, then convert that because you probably wouldn't have come up with that one. If you had to wrestle with your tool, or if your tool allowed you to do it, it might output too much code.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:30:34] Yeah, it's interesting as well is in the eye I've noticed recently. I'm sure everybody's noticed it.
It's not just me. That's for sure. Um, a lot more movement on the web. And I know that this is a contentious issue and a lot of people, especially usability, um, proponents and accessibility would say that, you know, less of that is probably a good thing, but you know, you look at, look at websites like Apple's website.
Um, especially when there's a product in play and the same with, let's say Google, that I recently went to got an email the other day about some Google sale. And I went onto the, the webpage and it was for a M. It was for their nest. I think it's called nest hub or something. Anyway, it's a, it's a router.
And, and as you scrolled up on the mobile and I'm guessing it was the same on the desktop, the things moved and it was beautifully executed. You know, it was really nice. And the more you scroll up, the more this thing happened. And it was basically this, this device torn apart and, and being, um, literally ripped apart into it's component parts.
Um, and then there was a house where they were trying to demonstrate how this, this router would, would distribute the, the wifi around and that rotated. And as you scrolled back again, it on rotated and the device was reassembled. If you notice. And it was just. It was really nice. And I'm seeing this more and more and do that in a static creation tool.
David Waumsley: [00:32:05] Yes. Yes. I think some of the new prototype and allow for some either, uh, be able to see limited, but yes, you're right. But do I shoot? Okay. And again, it depends on the type of client and what they want and that there is a place for the animation, but you know, you've, you've used Apple and in a way, people who are coming to see a particular product and they're already kind of in that gang, aren't there, they're already in the Apple tribe.
And they're going to enjoy that. I just think. This is another debate about animation or not really, but I just think most of the time we're increasingly need to be more task focused. We're on multiple devices at the time. And in some ways we need to clear out as much clutter so people can get to the basic information as quickly as possible.
So the animation does delay you, even if it's beautiful.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:32:58] Yeah. I'm, I'm not a proponent of it. I, I. There's many situations where I think it really detracts from the message that you're trying to deliver. But I, when I see a really solid example of it, and it's not just Apple and it was not just that they were just the two that dropped into my head, but I'd have seen some beautiful examples of it.
And I know that tools, especially like element or a really invested a lot of. Energy into making those things available within their page builder in the UI. You know, you don't have to write any code. You can just fill in boxes and type numbers and move things around and it'll bounce in or hover or grow or shrink or whatever upon scroll or whatever the interaction might be.
When I see it done really well and sometimes very gently. I think that is the future. That despite the fact that it really gets in the way and it's, it's a mess and it can be overused. That's like anything else, right. Just design in general can be overused and you can overdo it or underdo it. Or B you know, tons of white space, no white space, cluttered design, horrible color palette choices, and all of this kind of stuff.
The. I feel that, that, that is going to be a trend in the future. I just can't see that not being a trend because it's, it's new, it's innovative. And when it's done right, man, does it look nice?
David Waumsley: [00:34:16] Yeah, I think you're right. Although, you know, I have funny enough, I am in trouble, I think because the people are voting for things to go into.
Um, Beaver builder, um, uh, things to be considered for the future. And I, somebody put forward that these kind of scroll animations to be them part of the, the core unit. And I was arguing against it. So I've got people kind of not attacking me, but just saying, you know, I think that it needs to be that stuff, but it's.
Well, what was I going to say about it? Actually, what it is, let me for the static design argument here. I tell you what, well, I was looking for inspiration on design and I was going
Nathan Wrigley: [00:34:54] through
David Waumsley: [00:34:55] places like theme, forest, and monster templates and all those kinds of things to look for some design ideas. I wanted to break out of the box a bit.
And I found lots of sites and they drove me crazy with the amount of animation. And I've seen this on other sites where it's made easy on page builders. There ends up being too much. It's really annoying. You know, they're making up for not doing good static design, but what's really interesting is a lot of those things.
I screenshotted them. And I look to them in a different way and they were beautifully done. It was the animation that was ruined the experience of, of these things. So interesting.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:35:30] Going back to what we're arguing
David Waumsley: [00:35:31] with the static design, if it works as a static design and is beautiful, then I think you can enhance, you know, the subtly, the animations or effectively.
But I think if you don't get those basic skills, making it look great on a static design, you probably, uh, are not going to be able to animate. So I'm arguing. So maybe it's good idea to get back to that basic. Statics view first.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:35:57] Hmm. Yeah, I think, I think all of those are good points actually. And I would say that, yeah, you wouldn't be able to, you wouldn't be able to animate from nothing, you know, if you didn't have an idea of what it was supposed to look like when the animation was finished.
In other words, a static design. You can't really, you can't really work it backwards. Can you, you have to, you have to end up with the beautiful, finished thing that you want to see. So in my case, the speaker blown apart. So that's where, where am I going to get to? And yeah, you have to design that, right.
And you can do that in a static way. So yeah, I see it both ways. There's no point in having something which is awful and trying to animate it into beauty. Cause that's just not going to work. You need it to, you know, start from beautiful and, and, and enhance it with a little bit of animation here and there.
Anyway, we're sort of going off topic a bit here. Aren't we? But yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:36:45] Oh God, sorry. I can cut it on you, but in a way it's a bit like when you make a film, you know, a film is always going to be a moving thing, but you still, usually a good film is storyboarded very well, isn't it? You know, people like Hitchcock, you know, storyboard in every detail of it.
Before we filmed it and you could argue it's the same with building websites. You've really when you're static design, that's what you're doing.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:37:07] Yeah. Giving them the opportunity to see in advance. You see, I would say though, that you can give them that experience in the browser with a prebuilt. Well, okay.
Let's, let's take the, take the argument in a slightly different direction. Um, we're going to go into the direction of templates, which is not ideal. I know, but you know, the idea of showing clients plates beforehand, where do you, where do you feel that fits? Yeah. So instead of storyboarding, as you've described it, or building mockups in advance, is it enough for the clients that you have?
You know, and the, I have the ones without giant budgets. Is it enough to show them a range of. Here's 50 different templates pick the one that you liked the best. And we'll just, we'll target that as the idea, we'll change the colors, the images. And we'll go from there. We'll build up from that point.
David Waumsley: [00:37:56] Yeah, absolutely.
I've done that. Yeah. I mean, one of the early. Sys that I did with my colleague and they had a very, very low budget. And I said, well, a lot of the best we can do is that they work from, and this was back in Genesis days for me, where they had the pro templates, which are available. I said, we'll do it cheap.
If you can just pick from one of these as the basic. Design, and that was good for them. And since then, I've thought occasionally I've done that. I've, I've taken some mockups that are not really templates that I've got, but just to get me started, just say select from this a bunch of templates, which I think might be right for your brand.
Yeah. And just to cut some time out, you know,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:38:35] Well, that in effect is it is your mock-up Don, isn't it in a sense, you know, and if, if, if budget is a constraint, then really that's, that's where you're targeting. You're targeting. We want to show you something very similar to how it will look in the end. We know that it's going to be a typical website.
We know that we're not after anything innovative. Just look at 12 of these, pick the one that you like best. And we'll just go from that. It's just difficult. I think. Perfect for the right client. Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:39:06] You know, we can't argue with it. I mean, we might be precious about, you know, the integrity of this design and what it intends to do, but for the average person.
And certainly when I came into it, I thought exactly like the average person, uh, you know, we know why things like Squarespace, Wix and all these. Sell because people look at them, they see a moderate selection of templates to choose from. They look beautiful. They just imagine themselves in on that template, that's all they want.
And that's the same. When I came to WordPress, it was exactly that I was looking at all these themes out there and thought, yeah, yeah, that looks quite nice for me.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:39:43] The reason that I think WordPress grew was because you could. Predefined the themes. You know, I know that a lot of other CMS is, did the same thing, but lots of people figured out very early on that WordPress could be wrangled and themes could be displayed and showed on, um, things like theme, forest, and what have you, and plead people.
Yeah. Just come along, pick and choose. And it made the work a whole lot easier. And let's be honest. I would imagine that a Sydney, if it can proportion to the people building WordPress websites, I have taken that approach at one time or another and not built their own thing from the ground up. Just gone for something off the peg, because in, you know, that that's the model of most businesses cut costs, save time, greater profit.
David Waumsley: [00:40:22] Yeah. I, I, you know, I mean, that's, that's the thing, it's where you're going to spend your budget. I mean, I'm arguing for the static design and I can see all the benefits of it. And I think that's great if you've got the skills and you've got a client who's on board with this and they've got. They've really got it in mind that this they've got the budget for it.
They, they really want fully integral design. That's gonna meet their targets and they've got the timeframe, but those are in the minority.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:40:51] The other thing that was going to say was, um, that the, there is a, there is a case for static design where you're looking more, not so much the design, but the user journey.
You know where you've got, let's say you're building something where the functionality and the road, you know, the way that the user gets involved, that I think is probably a case where it's, there's absolutely no way that you shouldn't mock these things up. You know, let's say you're building some kind of app.
Or something like that. You need to know what it's going to feel like for the client when they log in, where do they go to what's the page that they do next. So I'm coming at that more from the point of view of what is the order things and where do things sit as opposed to what the design would look like.
And I think. There's no way you shouldn't do that. An example would be that I'm working with some people at the moment to build a SASA app. And that process has been incredibly important without it. Uh, many, many, many blind alleys would have been gone down by, by me. Um, and it's managed to make me think, okay, well, what if they do this?
Oh, no, that's not the intention. Okay. Right. Stop. Put that page there instead make that menu go there instead, and lots and lots of iterations over time. And it's been really important and it would have been a catastrophe if we hadn't have done that.
David Waumsley: [00:42:16] Yeah, I'd say, I mean, I did miss out one of the points I think about the prototyping tools is that let's say your client needs, I don't know.
They, they need to feature at blog posts or something or on their home page, or they just need, you know, a blog archive being shown in a sort of different design or they've got a page that's a shop page or something like that with some of these new. Tools, you can kind of just drag in a template of those and then Chuck them a bunch of images at it to populate it.
And I don't think you could possibly do that as quickly. If you wanted to set up, even with things like posts, modules, or post widgets or whatever in your page builder or installing WooCommerce, you're not going to get all that quick data, have a look, a mockup so quickly. Yeah. And you, you know, if you wanted to use certain functionality on a site, um, you might have to install plugins, which might, you know, blow it out your database that won't be needed later and things like that.
So I missed out a couple of those points, I think for the static design or at least the new prototypes way of doing it.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:43:18] Yeah, I've seen, I've seen it again a bit like, yeah. Rather than experiencing it firsthand, I've watched a few videos and it is literally ridiculous how quickly you can build some of these really nice site design.
I know what you mean. Uh, you can do all of that insight. Yeah. Then WordPress, if you've got a rows that are pre-saved and modules that will achieve various things, but again, you're right in that it will blow, take your database. Much of it will be completely unusable. They know they won't choose to use it.
And obviously. If you've got all of that built in a mockup, there is no database yet. You've not going to blow anything. You're just going to build to what the client wants. So from that point of view, yeah, conceded.
David Waumsley: [00:44:00] But yeah. At the end of the day, I think the, you know, for us, for where we are cut, imagine that we will be learning any of these tools.
Will we not now
Nathan Wrigley: [00:44:10] too old? Nope. Yeah, basically too old. I don't have enough time in my day and there's too many of them coming around in quick succession. It's for the new kids, Dave. Where we're at, what you have to realize that there's a whole new generation of people out there who don't think like we do and are clever than we are on a building, things far superior to what we could ever achieve.
And they're doing it in different tools that we've never heard of.
David Waumsley: [00:44:33] Yeah. Also one other point, I guess, in. For why I'm more of a, um, in browser person, it's that the priorities have changed a little bit with our kind of low budget clients. The, yeah, it's quite easy to now I'm getting a nice looking site quickly.
So yeah, really where they need to compete more is perhaps on the other digital marketing, the SEO side of things, which often, uh, you know, before with their budgets, even though. Chance to talk about so we can get the site up quickly. If we skip out all the complexities of a static design and go for something a little bit more off the shelf amended, but then we can spend more time on stuff that might actually get more traffic and conversions.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:45:15] Yeah. That is also a good point. And one that, you know, you just can't ignore it. It's increasingly obvious to me that clients. Now understand the economics of website builds, especially where I am. You know, I think it's, they just know that things are as much easier than they used to be. They understand that there's ways that they can do this affordably and quickly.
They just get all of that. But the, um, But th the sort of difficulty now for us is trying to persuade them of the other things that they can't do, you know? And they could probably throw something together. They're in Wix. They probably don't want to cause they don't know the time, but they could if they have the time, but there are those other things, those interactions, those are the
David Waumsley: [00:45:58] SEO,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:45:58] the funnels, the marketing, all of that, which increasingly makes our industry worth staying in.
David Waumsley: [00:46:05] Yeah, exactly. I think we've done this topic.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:46:08] I think so. Apologies for the audio. You've got internet woes, I think haven't you, or is it computer where it was at the moment?
David Waumsley: [00:46:15] Oh, we can a lot. We've got everything. We've got storms happening in Goa where I'm at at the moment. So that's knocking out the power.
Can't get a new computer, which blew up recently. So yeah, uh, woe is me. It's just terrible, but we got through to the end.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:46:31] Yeah, well, hopefully it wasn't unlistenable but I'm apologies for the interruptions. Thanks, David. Nice debate.
David Waumsley: [00:46:38] Yeah. Thanks. Bye.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:46:39] Always fun to chat to David Wamsley. We do try to set up a debate so that we're adversaries and we're on different sides of the debate.
But sometimes I think like today's episode, it's pretty clear that we both pretty much share the same opinion, but what do you think let us know in the Facebook group, WP rebuilds.com forward slash Facebook, or of course good. Let us know. In the post on the WP Builds.com website. The WP Builds podcast was brought to you today by AB split test.
Do you want to set up your AB split test in record time? The new AB split test plugin for WordPress. We'll have you up and running in a couple of minutes. Use your existing pages and test anything against anything else. Buttons, images, headers, rows, anything. And the best part is it works with BeaverBuilder element or on the WordPress blog editor.
You can check it out and get a free [email protected]. Okay, we'll be back next week for another podcast. We'll be back on Monday for the WP Builds, weekly WordPress news, and we'll be back at 2:00 PM Monday every week to do the live news with some notable WordPress guests. Subscribe to us on your favorite podcast player, please.
And then everything will be pretty much automated, but stay safe. Have a nice week. Bye bye for now.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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