Meeting the client’s needs
My brief was a simple, “Okay, make a website for the clinic.” – rough translation from the orignal Chinese Mandarin dialogue. This was a difficult task (for anyone whose read my lesson activity diary will know) as my clients each had little knowledge of websites in one way or another.
For me the fact that my client (father) couldn’t understand design or even tell the difference between a good looking website and a bad one, his only complaint was that I missed out the post-code was missing. Whilst this may seemed like a great opportunity to design the website as I’d like, it also ment that I’ve little idea what my client thinks of the design. Luckily my other client (my mother) was more commutative, she agreed with the minimalistic design of the site and also discussed with me about the content of the about section. Overall I’d say meeting my client’s needs was both hard (from a lack of feedback) and easy (from the freedom they allowed me in the design). In the end my parents were both satisfied with the website (my dad because I’d got the contact details correctly and my mum because it actually doesn’t look too bad in her eyes).
The main purpose as stated on the breif is to advertise the client’s clinic, with a hint of information regarding Chinese Medicine (to further promote the clinic and its services). Overall I have catered to this via the content of my website (the slider on the home page itself contains introductions to all aspects of TCM). However I’d liked to have put in more content (though this was limited since the client may practise TCM, his not a historian or a critical expert on TCM). If I did more research on the subject in the future or put in some further reading links, then the informational purpose of the site will be better served.
As mentioned before style-wise I’ve gone for a minimalistic and clean look to fit the tone of a clinic. By using colours associated with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and the clinic’s colour to further give a cultural impression and identity. The overall aesthetics of the site is exact what was mentioned in the brief: clear. Hence why it was important I’d gone for a simple navigation with no unnecessary frills attached whilst still maintain a pleasing and professional aesthetic.
All written content came from the leaflet that the client provided and the rest my head. As for the images: the form and certificates were supplied by the client; the images for acupuncture, massage and illnesses were stock photos downloaded from the internet (I just did some cutting down to appropriate sizes); the rest were taken and edited by myself. The massage and acupuncture (along with all the illness images) were not original because to take photos of actual patients would bring up a load of legal issues and require people to actually turn up so I chose to use stock images (of decent quality of course) instead.
As for whether or not my clients wanted the content… well some were (okay, most were) suggested by me since my client just wanted people to know the address and name of the clinic for the most part. I’ve discussed with them beforehand though during a meeting and they were happy with my ideas and the content I used (such as pictures) were also given positive feedback. Though I do regret not having as many original photographs as possible.
The overall planning and idea generation went very smoothly as I had a clear vision of how I wanted the site to look. Learning coding turned out to be the most enjoyable and well managed part of the whole production process- I went for a learn what I needed to create my site method, whilst also flipping through my coding bible. When it comes to actual production of the site, it took longer than expected partly due to getting used to the befuddlement of coding and having a broken up schedule. Next time I’ll be keeping a more strict schedule and increasing my work speed (a thorn that’s been in my side for a long time). One thing that I never worried about is creative ability as such an abstract aspect can only forever get better the more things you experience in life (or the more creative things you look at) it helped that I found a load of inspirational web design sites too.
I documented most of my progress and design decisions on my blog and made sure to get my client’s approve and feedback on my decision (at times having to urge them due to their reluctance born from a lack of understanding the process of making a website). If I could improve on this aspect I’d say is best if I updated the on every tiny detail for the website (such as fonts and use of colour). Nonetheless I chose to not go overboard with documentation asides from what’s important (i.e. the wireframe and site map) as my clients wished not to be bombarded with information and preferred that I focus on getting the site finished.
What would I change (if I could travel back in time)?
I’d like to add more convenient features (such as tools to change text sizes and a search bar but due to time-constraints (those elements would need fine-tuning to work well after all) this was not possible . Another thing I’d change is the spacing between the Chinese characters on the background image; this is a small niggle but I just feel that those pieces of beautiful calligraphy (okay it was an adobe font) were nearly always obscured by the site’s content. Finally my wish is for that I actually gone through with my original plan of showing what methods os TCM can cure which illness. Whilst my tables of illnesses that we cure is fine, there’s something neat about knowing what method is used to go about it.