Stop Comping: Creating Designs that Developers Can Use
Throughout my career, I have spent time as designer, developer, tech lead and project manager. No matter what hat I have worn at the time there was always one source of contention ... the design comps. I’ve watched as talented designers waste a shitload of time creating fully fleshed-out comps of what a website could look like, pushing pixels until their vision is realized. Pages are printed out (wtf, it's the web) and displayed on walls or boardroom tables so the clients can bleed red criticism. Then designers act on it and they repeat this dance until everyone is content (or until nobody gives a damn anymore, which happens more often than you’d think). Only then do those pristine comps get handed (more like shoved) over to developers to figure out. Again I say, wtf?
This is an increasingly-pathetic process that makes less and less sense in our build-for-x-device age, if it ever did at all. While I will not make a case for ditching Photoshop altogether nor will I make a case for designing solely in the browser (ever try that? hell no!) I will make a case that there is a better way to get the design approved and into production without pissing everyone off.
The solution? (or one we think would work) A process that uses a combination of wire framing tools and mood boards (a.k.a style guides). Let’s get the point across without being locked down like Fort Knox to the pixel perfection that clients expect when they see a PSD comp!