Web Design: The Hits, the Misses, and the Weird - Part I
Surfing the Web
If you are like many consumers who depend on the Internet for your information, entertainment, and buying needs you no doubt have visited hundreds, if not thousands of websites by now.
On the other end of the world of websites, the Holy Grail for many web designers is constructing a website that is successful and popular. But where can you get this training?
There are numerous courses that can be taken online, at graphic design colleges, and colleges that provide the essential career training necessary for this interesting field.
But what exactly makes for a successful web design? As we shall see in this series, the answer to this question varies and sometimes goes against conventional wisdom.
We'll go over examples of popular and not so popular websites and try to shed some light on this subject now, and in the coming weeks.
Back to the Basics of Web Design
If you are struggling in coming up with a website concept for a client sometimes it's a good idea to return to the basics as far as what the website is intended for. And ironically enough, the key points are primarily non-graphic related:
* What is the website for?
* Who is the audience for the website?
* How tech-savvy is the audience (website navigation).
* Does the design meet the needs of the user?
If you can correctly answer these questions, it may help to clear the fog and allow you to approach designing the website with "fresh eyes."
Breaking the Rules: The Hits
Following basic website design principles can help you to create good websites.
But some successful websites have thrown out the book on Web Design 101 and have been quite successful. Breaking the rules doesn't work all the time but it is a viable option for design ideas. Here are a few:
Less Is More
If a client came to you with a request to design a search engine website, you might go about it by creating the webpage with various search categories, helps and links to different topics.
You could add some nice graphics, some prime webpage "real estate" set aside for sponsor's ads and perhaps to top it all off, you'd show off a nice animation.
But the top-ranked website in the world, which also happens to be the most popular search engine, took a totally different approach.
There are no graphics to speak of but it serves as a stroke of genius in design by implementing the most basic mechanism of how people search for things on any website; you merely type in what you want to find in a search box.
While this minimalist approach may be too drastic for your next project the underlying principle is very important; design your website so it is simple to use.
Low-Tech In a High-Tech World
Websites have evolved in a manner where they have become progressively complicated and feature laden. But as we see in the following example, low-tech doesn't necessarily mean outdated or not useful as long as it works for the users.
Craigslist is the epitome of rule breaking as far as website design is concerned. It has no graphics to speak of on the main page, the layout seems crowded and lackluster, and it doesn't appear to have much going for it.
One reason why this website works is because of its easy to use interface and user content. The layout of the website is non-threatening and the want-ads style is familiar to virtually everyone.
There are websites that do extremely well in their niche markets. Next time we'll go over some of these examples and see what makes them tick. We'll also take a look at some that have made changes to their layouts, but with less than optimal results.
So until next time, keep on designing!