When Matthew, Tanya and I first started brainstorming what Maker’s Row should look like, it was an exciting process. They brought their knowledge of the manufacturing process to the table, and I helped translate that information into what I thought would be the best way to present it to both designers and factories on the web. I’d like to give you a glimpse into the thinking behind our product and share some design pointers.
The Making Process
Our 6-Step Making Process is woven all throughout our site. There is a reason why we chose to show it in detail on our home page, use it as a means to find factories and categorize them. By breaking the manufacturing process down into steps, we make it easy for designers to understand how to make a product and find the right factory for them. So it was very important we not only explain what these steps are to designers, but also brand every factory with them, as well as provide explanations on how they help you with that particular step in the making process on their profiles.
Sometimes a simple solution is a lot harder to think of than a complex one. We are constantly analyzing every facet of Maker’s Row to see if there’s anything that can be done to make things simpler for our users. Some questions I may ask myself are: Is there anything we can do to save a step for the user? Is there a way to add a new feature without adding too much to the UI? If only a handful of users are requesting a new feature, is it worth adding more complexity to the site? And of course, always… Is there anything we can remove?
Keeping elements consistent across your website not only helps keep your code organized, but makes it a lot easier on your users. The search page on Maker’s Row is consistent with the “Catalog” and “Samples” sections on factory profiles. They both display data similarly via grid and list views. You might also notice that reviews and even the tweets on our “What People Are Saying” page follow a similar pattern. Keeping button colors and shapes consistent, as well as page titles and other elements really help a lot to avoid confusion, too.
It may seem like there’s just a natural flow to the way information is presented on Maker’s Row, but each page was crafted carefully with a proper hierarchy in mind. It’s important to figure out the order of the elements that are going on a page before actually designing it. And there’s various ways you can move elements up or down the hierarchy by taking advantage of placement, size, colors and fonts. The factory profiles are a good example of this. We had to go back to the drawing board several times before getting it just right.
It’s easy to be satisfied with a design, especially after you spent so much time thinking about it and executing it. But it’s important not to fall in love with your design to the point where you won’t change it. This is especially true when it comes to web design, where trends change so rapidly. We’re always looking for inspiration, and we welcome change to any aspect of our website. Change shouldn’t be something to fear, but rather something we should all embrace. We’re always tinkering with our design and dreaming up new features, and this idea of the product never being finished is what makes it an exciting journey.