To some extent, we are all experts in web design. Your taste may run to minimalist, lavish, or brash, but one thing is for sure. You’ll be able to say, within seconds of visiting it, whether or not you like a website.
It’s perhaps tempting to think of web design as nothing more than choosing a couple of pretty colours. So why do we consider it such a key part of the website building practice – indeed, an element that can make or break its success?
Well, let’s consider a few of the important factors that web designers have to keep in mind, every time they create a new site:
The look and feel
This website represents your company, and as such, you need it to convey your brand values. There is a whole wealth of subliminal clues and iconography the experienced designer can call upon rounded corners or handwritten elements for friendliness, red starbursts for rock-bottom pricing, stately fonts for respectability.
The great thing about web designers? You tell them what you want in words, and they translate it into visuals.
Usability and accessibility
Those two words may not mean much to the man on the street, but you’ll soon know about them if they are missing from a website. Usability simply means how intuitive a site is to use. If you’ve ever experienced the frustrations of clicking and clicking around a site, trying all the obvious places to find the one nugget of information you need, then you’ve experienced poor usability.
Accessibility, on the other hand, is all about ensuring a site is available to any user, whether they be disabled, elderly, partially sighted, or whatever.
A good designer weaves usability and accessibility into every single site he makes – and he knows he’s done a good job when you don’t even notice it.
The web can be a confusing place, with new technologies coming online every day. The best designers know which have the greatest take-up: there’s no point in including a video on your site if it’s in a format most people won’t be able to view.
Equally, your designer will need to ensure the site works on any number of browsers run at any number of resolutions on any number of operating systems.
Look for the designer who can’t stop telling you about the great new features he’s seen online – he’s the one who is bang up to date.
Appeal to search engines
As if that wasn’t enough to think about, designers have to be sure that their sites will actually be found – and that means putting into place SEO-friendly features. Neither Flash videos nor text that is actually made of an image will do you any good at all in your Search rankings, because they simply won’t be seen, however nice they look.
On the other hand, if your designer adheres to a few simple rules, you’ll find that your design actually boosts your climb up the ratings.
Keeping up to date
As in every other visual discipline, fashions change in web design. Make sure you don’t employ someone who’s sitting on their laurels, churning out the same old designs that made people sit up and look back in 1995. Look around you, and see what your competitors are doing. Then decide whether you’d like to imitate them, or innovate a little more.
Great designers are always changing – as quickly as the web itself changes.
Not looking like quite such an easy job anymore, is it? So now you may begin to understand why web design can be considered both a creative art and a rigorous discipline.
When one takes all of these factors into consideration, design suddenly begins to look a lot harder. Perhaps it does not work to entrust to just anyone.
At Notting Hill Web Design, we make a difficult process easy. If you want a simple life, you can choose one of our off-the-peg designs, which are ready-tested for robustness, durability, and pizzazz.
If you want something a little more unique, choose our tailored design service. We’ll put our best minds on your project, and come up with something that puts your site at the very front of the pack.