The Web is a foam of ever-popping bubbles, ever-changing shop windows, a fascinating world where reality is compressed and presented in a browser – basically a window for looking sequentially at a very large parallel structure. It is therefore very important how content is put forward to the user. We get better design when we understand our medium. Yet even at this late cultural hour, many people don’t understand web design.
Web design is not book design, it is not poster design, it is not illustration, and the highest achievements of those disciplines are not what web design aims for.
So what is web design?
Web design is the creation of digital environments that facilitate and encourage human activity; reflect or adapt to individual voices and content; and change gracefully over time while always retaining their identity. Great web designs are like great buildings. All office buildings, however distinctive, have lobbies and bathrooms and staircases. Websites too share commonalities.
Although a great site design is completely individual, it is also a great deal like other site designs that perform similar functions. The same is true of great magazine and newspaper layouts. Understanding this, and yet making your website stand out amongst the million similar pages is our objective.
One of the first things that one needs to decide, long before the analysis, design and implementation, is the target audience. With whom are you trying to communicate? It is important define the audience before you even get into any details about what the web site is to do – the “to do” will actually be made a lot clearer once you understand your audience.
The next phase involves figuring out what you are trying to communicate. This is probably one of the most important parts of the design process, and is often compromised on when more focus is on how it’s being communicated; the visual appeal of the website. If done right at the beginning, you will find the website coming together by itself, and the design will not require endless changes and maintenance.
The final phase involves the overall design on the page. Most times, an effort is made to provide as much information as possible, which is good. But at times, this leads to a very cluttered web page that will not be able to hold a viewer’s attention. Keep it simple. Providing links could be a solution to the problem of having to display lots of content. Making navigation within the site easy and distributing content over the entire window also adds to the appeal of a webpage.
A balanced approach that takes into account the content and the need for an aesthetic visual appeal will give you a great way to express yourself and make your content reach a wider audience.