The new style

Design, style and web success?

Web design has been through a whole set of styles through the web age. From when animated gifs were the cutting edge to now when, animated gifs are the cutting edge! No seriously, many trends, tools and techniques have come and gone in web design, but some principles of good design are timeless. Here are a few principles I try to follow in design for websites:

Simplicity

'Less is more' is one of those cliches of design, but removing what is unecessary is very often the most important role of the designer. In any business or organisation there are going to be a number of things competing for inclusion in the website and other communication channels. But a clear message from which extraneous information is removed is better for communication and in the end for business. The most difficult job for the designer is very often rejecting the competing calls for inclusion diverse messages. The organsisation needs to reflect and agree on what is the core message and what can be left out - This can take time.

Space

Once the prioirities are established the deisgner can reduce clutter in the design and make the design have more space. Designs should use the space to communicate the simplicity of the message and also the quality of the product or service being communicated about. Space in this way communicates trust to the user, knowing what you want to communicate shows that you are clear in what you do to the user.

Journeys not structure

While the designer can never know what needs of every user are they can create a design that allows the user to focus on their needs. It is good to think of the user on the site going through a journey rather than looking at the overall structure of the site. Sometimes too much emphasis is placed on the organisation of the site as a whole when the aim should be to land or take users to a part of the site from which they can then explore and find what they specifically need as an individual.

Balance and use of emphasis

In putting together navigation and other lists of options it is important to not make the list long and difficult for users to understand. Differentiating the routes to what the user needs is important here, as is explaining visually or in words what the options are.

Communicaiton priorities

The two most important things to communicate to visitors to your site are:

  • That you have to offer what they want or need
  • That they can trust you to deliver

This must be at the core of the design for your site.