Good Website Design – Why Looking Good Is Never Good Enough
The majority of website designers focus wrongly on designing websites that appeal to their clients. This leads to websites that are poorly designed to serve the needs of the visitor or the client. After years involved in website design and evaluating and optimizing websites, I recently concluded that the vast majority of today’s websites are no better designed now than they were 5 years ago.
Yes, websites designed in the past 5 years certainly look a lot better and have more wow features like impressive effects, stunning graphics and clever videos. But that doesn’t mean as websites they perform any better in satisfying the needs of the visitor or the website owner. In fact very often all these effects, graphics and flash videos while enhancing the visual appeal of the website actually make the website worse in terms of performance. By performance I mean how well the website satisfies the objectives it should have been designed to meet.
When you are looking to have a website designed or redesigned the first thing you need to establish is what are the objectives of the website?
What is the purpose of the website?
Is the purpose to:
- Stun visitors with a jaw dropping graphics and effects?
- Get good reviews for your website from other website designers?
- Inform and educate visitors?
- Attract the right visitors interested in what the website has to offer?
- Sell products or services?
- Capture leads or subscribers?
If you want evidence of the extent to which web designers focus on the visual appeal of a website rather that being fit for a purpose, you only have to look at the dozens of websites that showcase what they consider to be good website designs.
These showcase sites for good website design feature 1,000’s of websites submitted by web designers that get reviewed and voted for largely by their peers, or so it would seem. Examples are siteinspire.net, unmatchedstyle.com, csselite.com, beautiful2.com, webcreme.com, creattica.com, divinecss.com, foliofocus.com, cartfrenzy.com and bestwebgallery.com. Some, but not all of these showcase websites state what they regard as good website design in their submission guidelines.
Unmatchedstyle.com are dedicated to acknowledging those who have made exceptionally gorgeous web sites by employing web standards and good usability practices.
Foliofocus.com is a web design gallery that exists to showcase the best collection of portfolio sites from web and graphic designers, photographers, and other professionals.
Cartfrenzy.com is a design gallery for the most well-designed e-commerce and shopping websites.
Bestwebgallery.com features a wide range of quality design websites (Flash & CSS). They go on to declare what quality design means to them, which is:
Quality Design = Visual + Technical + Creativity
Note here the emphasis is on the visual appearance, technical wiz bangs and the creative merit.
Based on my own experience auditing and evaluating websites and those featured on showcase sites like the ones above, is why I have concluded that web designers focus too much on creating good looking websites that appeal to their peers.
As if to prove the point I carried out a detailed case study of a highly rated website featured on unmatchedstyle.com. In choosing the website for this case study I was also looking for the site of a web design firm since that should represent all that’s best in good web design. The site received a 9.1 out of 10 rating for good design from the showcase site and a video review.
Following my detailed case study evaluation of the website I determined the web design quality rating of the home page to be 3.9 out of 10 and the website as a whole was rated 4.2 out of 10. Of course, I used different criteria for my ratings for good quality web design than did the showcase website that gave a rating of 9.1.
For the home page I used a checklist that evaluated 12 categories of design, with 135 elements of page design and for the whole website I used a checklist that evaluated 91 aspects of site design.
Any of the 226 aspects of web design that were not found to be present were also given a severity rating. This severity rating was based on the level of impact the missing aspect had on the design and on the frequency with which it occurred.
The number of aspects on which the web page or website passed combined with the level of severity was used in a formula to determine a rating of good quality web design.
What was clear from this case study is the site used in the study received a high 9.1 rating for good design from the showcase site based on a very different assessment criteria to my own, that gave the site a rating of only 4.2.
So, the question is, which rating for good website design is the right one, a showcase site rating of 9.1 or my rating of 4.2?
Well, that depends on whether you want to base a rating for good web design largely on looking good, or on a detailed assessment of 226 aspects of good web design I expect to find in a well designed website.
Deciding on what is a good website design also depends on whether you want a website that looks good or one that’s designed for a purpose and to satisfy some clearly defined objectives. If you want a website that does more than just look good then you need to look a bit more closely at the design of your website, because just looking good is never good enough, at least not for me.
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Benefits of Having a Custom Website Design
Custom Website design uses the combination of images and web contents to deliver the right identity and purpose of the company. With custom website design a company can place their products and services strategically to attract customers and expand business. If you want your business to stand out in a critical competition, opting for custom website design would be the most effective and right decision.
A custom website design has a high importance and should not be underestimated and taken for granted. Creating a custom website design is not an easy task. It needs proper preparation and implementation as it requires years of expertise. A skilled professional who has acquired abundant training and proficiency in this field is the appropriate person who can give your website the desired professional look. A custom web design that sells!
A good custom web design is not merely a combination of colors, graphics and content along with its great look there are other aspects that make your website well-balanced in order for it to carry out the message for your business efficiently and effectively.
The following should be considered in creating a custom website design:
a. Easy navigation. An easy navigation helps visitors stay on your site. This is one of the most important points to be taken into account while designing your website. It assures smooth experience for its browsers. Simultaneously, proper navigation helps search engine in indexing pages of website.
b. The Logo of the website should have a link to the Homepage of the website.
c. One more very important aspect is having a site map. It helps the visitor to understand about the layout of your website like what are the main menus and submenus.
d. Communicate your requirements clearly to make sure you get the right custom web design for your company. “About Us” and FAQ or frequently asked question page let the people know who you are and how they can contact you.
e. A professional look makes the site more acceptable to its user. Select the proper color combination, page backgrounds, page size, graphic design, word/content etc.
f. Delayed uploading time might lead to losing important and valuable customers. So it is important that the loading process is fast.
g. You must update the content of your website from time to time.
Most importantly you need to put in mind the fact that your website primarily targets your visitors, who seeks help or some kind of information. A professional website will manipulate the visitor’s insight and convince them to explore deeper into your website. Your website serves as the spokesperson of the entire company so it is a must to expose your business and the products or services that you provide.
Hence it is crucial that a custom website design is created in such a way that the visitor can find what they need instantly and does not have to search for too long because they may get lost in the website. Poor website layout, slow loading process as well as improper content management annoys the visitor and make him quit within a few seconds not bothering to explore further into your website. The result is you end up losing a visitor, who could have probably turned up as your customer.
Choosing the Right Website Designer
Many fledgling businesses sacrifice the quality of their website design and brand for affordable web design that’s a tad generic and a tad 1999. Others pay too much for a poorly-designed website that doesn’t really reflect their personality. Some make the mistake of having a friend or relative do it for free!! This is probably the worst outcome! One of the best options available is to find a website designer that does customisable website templates. It’s not a bad sign if their designing pricing is listed on the website either – especially for website template options.
When it comes to websites, timing is everything
The number one complaint from clients of web designers is the time is takes to come up with the initial. Having a friend design your website is a mistake that many business owners make – even if it happens to be a friend in a web design company. Your friend may have good intentions, but anything for a ‘mate’ or on ‘mates rates’ tends to go on the back burner. They won’t be able to complete your website within the timeframe you need. Bigger projects will come up, holidays, while you are missing out on potential new sales because the site is not up and running. While having a friend do your webpage designing will save you money in the short term, in the end, you will miss critical opportunities for sales. A customisable website template is 70% complete so you can be up and running quickly.
Web Design Usability
There was a time when website designers were paid to make any changes required after the new design went live. In other words, the websites were built without content management systems. Unfortunately, there are still web designers who build websites without CMSs, who hold websites hostage and require the client to pay for any tiny changes once the website’s live. Today, many affordable services enable the site owner to upgrade the site as necessary, using turnkey solutions. So it you’re looking for an affordable web design solution, make sure you don’t just look out for website templates; look out for a website that comes with a CMS too.