By: Derek Sgandurra – Bayshore Solutions Web Design Team
The Quality of Web Design
The measure of a web design’s quality—as is the case in all forms of design—resides in the details. Before the world wide web came along, designers were beholden to a rich and established history of rules and standards that had evolved over centuries of practice. Typically the purview of print design, these guidelines had been refined from generation to generation, dating back as far as ancient Egypt where the very first fliers were left scattered on primitive windshield wipers. OK, so perhaps not. But they did have fliers.
In the pre-Internet days, designers went to school to become designers, much in the same way doctors go to school to become doctors. They sat in classrooms and learned from teachers who had learned from their teachers the subtle art of presenting, dressing and accessorizing information. Newspaper layouts, magazine and poster designs, corporate identity, photographic art, information architecture—these and other branches of design each command their own set of standards to maximize the delivery of content.
When websites first came along, they brought along extreme limitations in the form of slow hardware and even slower bandwidth speeds. Monitor displays were challenged by both size and color, making the field of web design slow to catch on with professional designers. In just a few years, however, technology caught up, and designers were soon enticed by the expanding possibilities of the multimedia canvas. Today, websites offer a rich medium in which designers can invest their creativity. Still, due to the nature of the industry’s early stages, many “web designers” are merely hobbyists who never benefited from the in-depth training that previous branches of design required for entry.
We’ve all heard the stories of the uncle’s sister’s neighbor’s step-son who designs web sites for $1.99 per hour. And many of us have learned what to expect of such services with regard to quality of design. So what is it exactly that separates good from bad web design? The first answer is foremost the clear presentation of content. After all, that’s what the Internet is all about. A poorly-designed site will sacrifice substance for style, and in some cases, substance for bad style. While a site’s aesthetics are undoubtedly an important factor in its overall success, it must (as dictated by the golden rule of all graphic design) take a second seat to the content. But the benchmark for good web design doesn’t end there.
As mentioned earlier, quality resides in the details. A professionally-trained web designer will take careful consideration to many factors before arranging a single pixel on the screen: At what resolution is the audience likely to be viewing the site? Will the color palette compliment or clash with the content? What sort of strain will high-resolution imagery place on the load speed for high-traffic sites? How will increasing the text size affect the layout? What sort of browser compatibility issues will arise from the proposed design? How will the design appear on small screens and mobile devices? What sort of photos should and should not be used to convey the overall message?
These are just a small handful in a mountain of design considerations faced by the professional web designer. And as technology and standards continue to evolve, so too does this unique branch of visual design. The above image is an example of a unique and quality web design. Click on the image to view more information about this successful Bayshore Solutions project.
Derek Sgandurra is a Senior Web Designer for Bayshore Solutions.