When It Comes to Website Design, Don't Just "Make it Pretty"
Do you have the power to keep viewers from bouncing off your client’s webpage & the knowledge to design for your next website?
No, Yes, Maybe. When starting a fresh website design, a designer is often told to "Make it pretty." But a website requires more than a beautiful design to keep viewers on the page. In order to keep viewers interested, designers need to think logically, focus on functionality, and ensure that the design will be easily navigated. Overlook these key aspects in a web design, and your client’s viewers will repel from the website like fleas on a dirty dog's first bath, and that’s not "pretty."
Here are some questions to get you thinking logically for a better design:
- Viewer Usability: How do users think? What does your client want the user to do?
- Structure & Functional Planning: Now that you know what you want them to do, how are you going to get them to do it? What is the primary function of the site?
- Design, Plan, & Conquer: You are ready to design based off of usability and structure, so how do you tie this in with the requests of your client? Do you have everything you need to move forward with the design?
Let's start with Part 1: Viewer Usability:
For your benefit, I have come up with a hypothetical client, so you may have something to visualize while you are reading this series:
Hypothetical Client: You’re designing for a new clothing & beauty company looking to promote their new product line. Their target market consists of females from ages 16-30. They have a vintage style and would like that to reflect in their new website design. They also want to integrate social media and in the future would like you to help them with their inbound marketing. They like the look, color schemes, and design elements of ShopRuche.com, RedVelvetArt.com, and EverydayMinerals.com. Also, after some research, they have decided they would like a Magento shopping cart integrated into their site. They have purchased their domain, already have a blog, and are ready for you do design. Q: What is your next move? A: Planning.
Getting Started on Usability
Read up on usability and design often, because continual self-education is a necessity for making everyone involved in the web design process happy. Have you ever heard the phrase “knowledge is power?" If so, I now encourage you to recite that phrase to yourself daily.
In order to lure you into embracing this “power,” I have listed some great articles that you will enjoy ... brought to you by the number "10" and Smashing Magazine:
- 10 Principles of Effective Web Design: a great article about how users think and how to cater your design to fit the user’s actions
- 10 Usability Nightmares You Should Be Aware Of: "learning from others' mistakes," a phrase you have probably heard before, but one that is never said enough
- 10 Useful Usability Findings and Guidelines: In this article, you will read about a wide variety of issues including design myth busters (such as the importance of “the fold”) and how the user actually navigates a page (shown by an eye-tracking heat map).
Another thing you should know if you are devoted to self-study: you will benefit greatly from reading more about psychology and human relations research. In effective design, you will constantly have to analyze how the viewers will perceive and react to the design and content on a webpage. Ask yourself often: how are the viewers going to use this page, and will they use it as you have intended? Most people are more complex than we give them credit for, but there are still some days I think most minds are easy to navigate ... "Success, Money, and Pretty Things."
Have an article on usability & functionality you would like to share? Please post it in the comment box below.
Thanks for reading! Next week, part 2: "Structural & Functional Planning"