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Web Design Ideas…

Posted in Uncategorized by pmaurer74 on December 12, 2008
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Skinny Cat Designs Website

Skinny Cat Designs Website

For class this week we had to review an article on web design and apply it to our IMC class and then review four other articles from classmates. This is where the content and ideas have come from for this post as well as the one below. This weekend, I have to propose a web design idea and justify why I made the choices I did with support from articles like the ones I reviewed. I find this to be a difficult exercise since I am a web designer by trade. It is hard to take a step back and look at your designs from a different point of view. The last post focused on the user, this one will focus upon the design itself.

HOME PAGE GOALS

My first article dealt with the importance of the home page “Home Page Goals” by Derek Powazek. Powazek believes that there are four main goals to keep in mind while designing home pages for websites: Answer the question “what is this place?”, don’t get in the repeat visitor’s way, show what’s new, and to provide consistent and reliable global navigation.

The home page is the most important page on the website, if you fail to engage your viewer immediately, than you have failed in your purpose of the website. The designer has only a few second to engage the viewer before the make the decision to stay within the site or to move on. First impressions are very important to website viewers with 65% of users surveyed stating they would not buy products from a website that was poorly designed. Users also ranked 50% of the time that design was the most important component when evaluating websites.

The first goal is to answer the question, “what is this place?”, if the website fails to answer that question immediately, the viewer will be irritated and confused and will leave the site. The text on the site should answer this question immediately using as few words as possible.

The second goal is to not get into the repeat visitor’s way. Making a new experience for both a new visitor and a repeat visitor helps keep the viewers interested and coming back again.

The third goal is to show them what’s new and give the user a reason to come back  again. If the viewer knows that they will have new information every time they go to the website, they will come back often. Powazek suggests using blogs as a way to accomplish this goal.

fourth goal is to provide consistent and global navigation. You don’t want your users getting lost and confused. Use the same button links on the home as you do everywhere else. A user should not have to learn a new navigation system every time they click on a link. (O Conner, 2004).

UNDERSTANDING WEB DESIGN

The second article is “Understand Web Design” by Jeffery Zeldman. Zeldman comments that it is difficult to design for websites if you do not understand how the web works and it’s hard to understand the web when those around you don’t understand it either.

Zeldman writes, “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.” This rather profound and true. It is difficult to engage viewers, adapt to their needs, and make changes over time while keeping their brand identity.

Zeldman also says that immature designs hate doing the conventional boxy looking websites, but it’s difficult to make websites flow right without using a grid. I think that until they make oval or circular monitor, we have to stick with boxes. They don’t make die-cut computes!

DESIGN CHOICES CAN CRIPPLE A WEBSITE

The third article I reviewed was “Design Choices Can Cripple a Website” by Nick Usbrone. Nick Usborne writes that although great copy, a compelling message, and a strong sales argument are important, they way a site is designed can make a great impact for better or worse. Design can also impact the text itself in bother positive and negative ways.

He mention not to lose focus that your website has a purpose and that most designers don’t understand the effects that their design choices have on meeting that purpose. Some of those choices are:
• The position and color of the primary call to action
• Where the testimonials are located on the page
• Are the links images or text?
• The amount of white space on the page
• The position and prominence of the main header
• Number of columns used on the page
• The number of visual elements competing for the viewers attention
• The age, sex, and appearance of someone

Usborne goes on to say that testing different versions of your website and text with real users is very critical and not to skip this important step. The results of their test surprised them as the clear winning design was not the one they were favoring. As a result, we will all become better designers and writers.

By keeping in mind the goals of the home page, the purpose of each element on the site, and understanding why we design web pages the way we do can remind those of us who do this for a living how to make better design choices. I know I get into designs ruts and prefer designing pretty sites to functional sites.

For further reading on the topic of web design, please consider:

Duncan, Tom, (2005). Principles of Advertising & IMC (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill

Ten Things I Hate in a Website by Jason O’Connor

Home Page Goals by David Powazek

Design Choices Can Cripple a Website by Nick Usborne

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