The Design House

From Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and beyond…(yawn)

Design, of course, is much more than web design, but no doubt you’ve already discovered that the Netz is eating up as many designers as you can throw at it (om nom nom) and still hungers for more.

Personally, I sometimes miss the days when the phrase “web design” was itself an oxymoron — the days when it was up to programmers alone to make the Internet look halfway decent. Some had design training, some had instinctive talent, and many just didn’t care how it looked…as long as it loaded in an hour or less and didn’t crash.

I was designing a website recently working on the home page for std test kits page when the thought struck me: we have so many options nowadays; it can be an overwhelming creative endeavor to simply choose from all the stuff that is already available…let alone developing good design from scratch. But for a web designer who has created not just one site for themselves, but dozens and dozens for clients, it becomes less overwhelming. Yes, design choices have to be made. In the case of the std home testing kits page decisions about the placement of the images for the kits and the description regarding the symptoms for the specific std as well as how to use the kit. What type of information pages should be added to the site? What’s the optimum size for images and buttons, what color and style the font, how much white space should be left on the page, what to put, if anything, in the side nav spaces below the navigation links…etc. And those decisions are just for the home page. The overall design look, color scheme, font style should have already been made by this point. And those are just some of the design elements. Before any of those elements can be implemented a decision regarding what CMS should be selected as the site’s platform. Some web designers who are ambitious will create their own, while others will choose a Word Press, Joomla, Magento, or other CMS.But that is a whole other matter. However, once you have a CMS platform which can accommodate your needs and you have built quite a few sites, the design decisions don’t seem quite as overwhelming. They may still be challenging, but not quite so overwhelming.

Another good point to think about: why are so many web pages so similar in appearance?

Is it the “Anna Karenina rule” (“All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”)? Is there really only one best way (granted, with many distinct variations) to design a site?

Terribly designed websites have a certain charm, if they actually work. I’ve seen at least one site that was proud to have received and ugliest site on the web award…though the traffic that went along with the award could certainly have influenced the satisfaction.

Or is it simply that imitation is far more promising a route to success than innovation? By and large, the web is not over-stuffed with uniquely creative people (gasp!).

There are a handful of real artists, a major city’s worth of talented and creative design ‘engineers’ and ‘tweakers’ (in the knob-twiddling sense, rather than the illicit drug-using sense!), and then millions of assorted copycats, hacks, disinterested jobbers, and assorted cobblers.

If you, like me, belong closer to the bottom of that list than the top, you’ll probably benefit from browsing these pages. And if you’re closer to the top, stop wasting your time and go back to making our world a more beautiful place!

With website design, the single most important aspect of any site that consists of multiple pages is the navigation.

And really, when it gets right down to it, nearly any website should have more than one page. Even Google, possibly the most singularly-focused big name of the webs, needs navigation on its main page (though much less than in previous years, when it briefly adopted the Yahoo ‘loads of links’ format).

This discussion shall be continued in another section of this website due to certain constraints which shall not be mentioned…