What are the top 10 things to know before starting to work on the UI of a website?

It’s a highly subjective question, so here’s a highly subjective answer.

  1. Who is the website intended for? If the website already exists, what kinds of users does it already have, if any?
  2. What information exactly needs to be communicated to these users for the website’s function to be considered successful?
  3. Are the intended users or the message likely to change in the future, and if so at what rate and degree?
  4. What are your motivations for working on the UI?
  5. In particular, how do your motivations differ from the those of the intended users? How do they differ from those of anyone else working on other aspects of the site?
  6. What is your budget for the work at hand, in terms of both money and time?
  7. Do you have the freedom to try unconventional solutions, or are standard ones more appropriate to the context?
  8. Who owns the UI once you have “finished” working on it? Will others need to change it independently?
  9. How closely coupled is working on the UI to taking into account and understanding technical limitations of implementation on both the back end and the front end?
  10. Have you eaten a solid breakfast this morning before beginning?
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