Using Screenshots to Streamline Your Web Design Process

Designs. Deadlines. And Differing Opinions.

Anyone who has been involved in the Web development process can likely attest to all of these aspects. The design process can be a grueling task that is much more of a marathon rather than a sprint, especially when things aren’t clearly communicated. This is why from the initial planning stages to post-launch, and everything in-between, screenshots are becoming a highly important tool in the design process. Screenshots help ensure your message and feedback are easily understood.

Trying to explain a visual concept using just words can be hard. Things like margin, pixels, colors, and layout can be almost impossible to explain without graphics. Web design is a visual medium, and annotations are the most effective way to give feedback throughout the entire process.

Plan

You could argue that the planning stage is the most important step of all. Here, you get the opportunity to map out the goals for your entire project. At this point you probably have few limitations, so shoot for the moon as far as designs are concerned. This is also a perfect spot to get started using screenshots.

My favorite thing to do in the planning stage is to take screenshots of other websites that inspire me. This helps me get my head around where I want to take our site design, but also allows me to better show off concepts to stakeholders before anything is even designed on my end.

If you want to take it one step further, mark up your screenshots with Snagit. This lets you add notes and comments to clearly communicate what you like about certain parts of the page.

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Design

Now you’ll get to take all of the information you outlined in the planning stage and start laying out your page and designing the graphics. A lot of times writing or drawing out your ideas can be helpful, but software and web-based tools, like Balsamiq Mockups, are out there to help you as you get into the design process.

And this is where screenshots really come in handy.

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Rather than setting up meetings or conference calls with stakeholders, simply send them over screenshots of your designs and mockups. And since screenshots are more geared toward quick, unpolished communication, you don’t have to worry about waiting until designs are final before sharing them out.

Development

Screenshots are great for both design and development. They make it easy to quickly share information back and forth between teams. Too much white space? Text too small? Image not scaling properly? All of these things can be quickly communicated, whether your team is across the hall or across the globe.

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This phase includes not only building the development framework and coding everything, but also filling the pages with content. This is where the true yin and yang of design and development come together to build something great.

Launch

My favorite use of screenshots in the launch phase is during the testing process. At this point the pages are built, and it’s time to go through every page that’s been created and make sure that everything is working correctly and nothing is missing.

You’ll also want to test everything in your production environment to make sure everything is ready for the public to see. This is where the user experience becomes key.

What I like to do is send the pages out for review and ask for screenshots in return. That gives stakeholders and other members of my team the ability to quickly and easily give feedback on the user experience and design of the page.

Post Launch

Time to sit back relax, right? Not really. This is where you get to dive into the data. Whether you use a robust tool like Google Analytics or a heatmap tool like Crazy Egg, you’ll want to start analyzing your page performance.

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Screenshots are a great way to save and share performance snapshots along the way. You can take screen captures as you track your pages’ performance and then share those out to key members of your team or company to get a better idea of what your next steps are. This helps speed up the analysis process and create better conversations around your project.

These are just a few of the many ways you can use screenshots throughout your web design process.

Ready to begin using screenshots in your web design process? Download your free trial of Snagit now.

Are you already using screenshots in your design process? Tell us how you do it in the comments below. Any tips or tricks we missed? Bonus points for sharing a screenshot!

Photo by #WOCinTech/#WOCinTech Chat

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