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I hired a web UI designer for a project. I have professionally-done page wireframes with basic mark-ups ready, and I have clear documentation about the contents and functionalities of every component of every page.

After three days of research, the designer told me that the project lacks essential elements to get started, and pointed out two such missing elements: branding guidelines and contents.

By branding guidelines, the designer wants a logo and brand identity materials such as colors. I don't have those and honestly I was expecting the designer to come up those during the process. After some research of my own, I described and gave examples of the style and color choices I intend to have. However, that didn't seem adequate for the designer either.

In terms of the content, the designer is not satisfied with the dummy text placeholders on the wireframes as well as explanations of what each block of text would be. As the much of the content on the site will be user-generated, I am puzzled to see how I can provide 'actual'/'real' word-by-word contents at this stage.

Therefore, the designer concluded that it is hard to start working on the project, and the project is going to take 2x the time we've initially estimated.

I am no expert in UI design, but am genuinely interested in finding out what resources/materials I need to provide to enable an UI designer to do his/her job properly.

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2 Answers

Segregated processes (UX separate from UI separate from Content separate from Branding) lead to this. It's not uncommon.

Good design requires a holistic approach and is why Agile and the like has become so popular. Everything effects everything and having everyone move in a direction together helps smooth that entire process out.

In your situation, simply telling the UI designer that he needs to also be the brand designer is fine to ask. They may or may not feel qualified to handle that, however.

As for content, that really should be something worked on from the start, but if you don't have it, you don't have it.

As for other things they might want/need:

  • a project brief
  • design objectives
  • targeted demographics
  • industry details
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i see your point about the content, but in the case of my project, unless I make up imagined inputs from targeted users, I cannot see how I can improve the design process in this aspect. What can I do to compensate the lack of real content here? –  MLister Sep 10 '12 at 20:20
    
I don't know the specifics of your project, but in terms of finding content, sometimes we just have to write it ourselves. It's no fun, and we're rarely the content experts, but starting with something resembling real content is usually better than lorem ipsuming it all. –  DA01 Sep 10 '12 at 20:21
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Looking at your situation I have to agree with your designer on the need for the branding guidelines and the logo upon which the site will be structured. If you have a look around the web most sites structure their web colors around their logo to make it seem a part of the site and I would agree with the designer along those lines. However there is no need for you to have a ready made logo for him to use. You should be able to give him the colors which are going to be use in the logo (assuming its green and white as an example) and the designer should ideally be able to work around that to see what kind of design can be worked up from those colors. Of course, he is well within his rights to ask about what colors you might prefer to use for the headers and the main navigation but there is no hard and fast rule that you should provide them to him and he should be able to figure them out to see what color guidelines work best (unless you have some background research into what colors would influence your audience well (e.g. Say you are designing a site for small kids and it would be best to use bright colors rather than muted pastels)

With regards to real content, I always welcome it if the client or the stakeholder can provide me some real content as it gives me inputs about how the site can be structured and what are the restrictions with regards to real estate space and how we can structure the content to fit into that space.

However there is no need for you to give him word for word content as any lorum ipsum generator can required content of the required length.However I would be actually impressed if the designer took into consideration potential issues such as the possibility of the length of a article being too long for the space where it is being displayed or how much of the article content should be displayed before we resort to ellipses to specify that the article continues.

If this is the kind of questions your designer is asking, I would say you have someone who is really trying to understand the issue at hand but if he wants content for everything, then he is just looking to be hand held and trying to buy time.

As @loren Rogers pointed out, talk to a few other people and find out how much time they would take and the potential inputs they would need from you and then make the call about whether to continue with this person or not.

Sorry for the rather long response.

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thanks for your detailed response. I did suggested directions of color schemes, by both giving the description of feelings the colors should convey as well as giving examples of what I see as appropriate on other existing sites. I also proposed an idea for the logo design, but since I am not a designer I feel I should leave some creative freedom to the designer. If the designer comes up with a few options (for the logo and colors) for me to see, I can give opinions and make a choice, but it seems like at the moment I need to come up those myself. –  MLister Sep 10 '12 at 17:04
    
Looking at the discussion below and what you mentioned,it seems like he seems to someone who likes to have everything clearly established. In a case like this, I recommend talking to him to clearly establish what he can hope to achieve and also discussing with other potential candidates to see how they understand the project –  Mervin Johnsingh Sep 10 '12 at 18:25
    
lorum ipsum is a bad thing. Design is all about communicating something and the fact that so many design projects progress without content is rather silly, if you sit and think about it (it's common, we've all been there, but it's still a silly way to go about it). –  DA01 Sep 10 '12 at 19:11
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