Failure to Communicate
Designing a web site means delivering the client’s or project’s message. So a clear communication is the key factor here. It’s also about finding the right solutions for the project’s tasks and needs. When the client says he/she wants a fun website, with some movements, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire site has to be done in Flash. Often the client doesn’t know any better, at first the Flashy animation might be welcomed but later on the same client may be facing many problems down the road when his visitors start complaining about the lack of content, slowly loading pages or poor usability of the site. It is important to have the communication going both ways – the Client tells the Designer what are the site goals and needs, the Designer educates the Client about the possible and better ways of achieving these targets.
Usability = Success
Usability is all about making your website visitors feel at home when browsing the pages, searching for some information and actually finding one, it’s about making them feel welcome and encouraging to come back again and again. It’s like when friends are coming over to your place and asking for a cold beer: “Where do you keep it?” Your answer would be none other but “Where else, in the fridge”. The navigation on any website should be as obvious and easy to use. Sometimes it’s much better to compromise the design for usability rather than having a website with a stunning design but a nightmare to use.
Meticulousness is the sign of Professionalism
If there’s something that stands out in any web site’s design it’s the attention to details to the point of achieving the perfection. It’s the right combination of colours, typography, content, content labeling, graphics. Antoine de Saint-Exupery was absolutely right when he said that “You know you have achieved perfection in design, not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away”.
Accessibility and Standards
Every web designer’s wish is to see that one day all web browsers on any platform will render and interpret websites exactly the same way. But until that wish comes true, we must pay a special attention to the accessibility and follow the standards. I don’t want to sound as a parrot, repeating the standard dogmas, so I link you to Andrew Rickmann’s article that explains it all.
Just like everyone notices a quality paper and easy on the eye layout when we flip magazine or newspaper pages, the same way a good typography unobtrusively adds the high caliber craftsmanship to a website. I’ve previously listed 16 bits of Exceptional Typography Resources that should help everyone to get it right.
I was surprised that none of the 35 interviewed designers mentioned anything about the significance of the Colour for Web. We all heard about the importance of making a great impact during the first few seconds when landing a new visitor to your site – in my opinion the right colours, colour combinations will be the first things that grab people’s attention. Don’t miss the 8 bits of Colour Inspirations
Content is crucial
If a website has no content, what is the point of having a website? Not every website should have lots of textual data, however the content should represent the essence of the site, talk to visitors and explain what this page is all about. It can be achieved either by well-written articles, or well-presented media (images, video, music). Meanwhile, there’s a new type of sites that emerged in the last several years – blogs, and that’s where it’s crucial to have an outstanding written content, that can be cleverly accompanied with some interesting media elements.
Web and Graphic designers are not artists, not in a traditional way. A painter never becomes famous without developing a unique sense of style, an instantly recognizable trademark. Van Gogh, one of the prolific painters of all time, created numerous masterpieces. I haven’t seen all of them, but I can immediately identify if a painting belongs to Van Gogh, because of the master’s unmatched talent to get people see the world through the artist’s eyes. There’s a one of a kind Van Gogh style that can be spotted by everyone in anyone’s painting. With Web/Graphic designers it’s a different story – if they use the same style, same techniques they bring nothing new to every project they work on, and most importantly no individuality. The website should represent the client, the project, not the designer.
What do you think about the above-mentioned 8 principles of Web design? Which aspects of web design do you consider paramount?
This article was inspired and partially based on the results of the interviews conducted with 35 web designers by Smashing Magazine.