5 Myths About Web Design
As design is an incredibly broad term, and every designer seems to have their own (ever so slightly different) definition of what it is, we regularly come across some widely believed myths in regards to web design. This is understandable, the world of digital is still relatively new yet it has grown exponentially over the last few years.
Some things that were once commonly found in web design are now considered archaic, and for many, there is an aura of mysticism and confusion that surrounds the realm of digital design. It only gets more difficult to grasp as design roles become more and more specific. Just to add to the confusion you now have user-experience (UX) Designers, user-interface (UI) designers, UI/UX designer experiential designers, interaction designers…it can all be rather hard to get your head around, even for those in the industry.
So to follow up this post on web design I’m going to go through and discuss 5 myths about web design that we frequently come across both when working on new websites with our clients and speaking to our peers in the marketing community.
Design is about making a website look good
The design is more than aesthetics. And while it certainly covers how a thing looks, the design is about how things work. There’s an intrinsic relationship between form and function that makes something work well and appeal to people. As Steve Jobs said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. The design is how it works.”
Put it this way, if you bought a car that looked amazing, but it broke down every mile and the wiper didn’t work in the rain, would you say it was well designed?
People actually read on the web
How much time do you spend reading articles online versus scanning for a piece of information such as a keyword or phrase? I’d wager that there are substantially fewer articles that you really devote your full attention to.
For this reason, you need to emphasise visual content, break text into digestible chunks and make good use of headings and sub-headings.
It’s also worth noting that in Western cultures, our eyes naturally follow pages from the top left-hand corner of a page to the bottom right-hand corner, as we would with a book. You need to consider this in order to try and avoid usability issues and confusion.
UX means usability
User-experience doesn’t stop at making your website user-friendly. Usability allows people to easily and intuitively get from A to B. UX design covers more than that, it’s about giving people a delightful and meaningful experience.
A really usable website that offers little in the way of engagement or intrigue is never going to profoundly affect your visitors or keep your brand/product/service in their mind. User experience begins at someones first point of contact with your brand and continues long after they’ve become a customer.
The importance of your home page
Many have long argued that your homepage is the most part of your website. As a result, lots of web designers and developers still spend a disproportionate amount of time designing a home page. Yes, it’s important, but not as important as it once was. It is far better to try to make the whole website great than just that one part.
This, in fact, is no longer the case, as users’ browsing and searching behaviour has significantly changed, mostly due to the efficacy of search engines. When we come across a website we usually arrive on the page that answers our query, and that doesn’t tend to be the homepage. In our experience, very few forms of marketing should lead to your home page, as its primary job is to take people to other sections of your website. Here’s a good podcast you can listen to about this concept.
Design is about being original
I’ve saved this one for last because I think it’s so important, not just in terms of web design but all design, and I think that a lot of people get hung up on trying to make sure that their designs are original. It doesn’t have to be, and web design needs to be intuitive. So a user that doesn’t have a clue where to begin when they arrive at your website isn’t likely to stay on it very long.
Such design conventions are well-established because they’re recognised and user-friendly. Whilst innovation and improvement should be encouraged, it’s best not to stray too far from what people are familiar with. Obviously, this depends on the purpose of the website, a radically new experience would be appropriate if the goal is to challenge the status quo, but for most of us, particularly those looking to showcase their business/products, something that fits within established conventions of web design is best. Nowadays very little is original, just focus on delivering a positive experience for your visitors and customers.