Design Is More Than Graphics

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

-Steve Jobs

To successfully build a brand online, four elements must come together to create a satisfying user experience. The quality of this experience is the greatest factor in determining whether or not a visitor’s time will be productive and well-spent while on your site:

Website design is not simply about graphics. Certainly, graphic appeal and visual impact are important, but design is much more than “how it looks.” In fact, design should be the driving force behind every aspect of a web project. And the focus of the design must be the experience a user has on your site. A proper design anticipates visitors’ needs, guides them in accomplishing what they want to do, and leaves them feeling well served by the site.

Graphic Design

Drawing visitors into the site, engaging them, creating impact, illustrating textual content, providing clear, consistent navigation, and enhancing the brand are all goals of a site’s graphic design.

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Technology Design

Technology elements, including databases, scripts, programs, and interactivity, must all be geared towards empowering website visitors. Understanding what visitors need to do, and designing technology that helps them accomplish tasks easily is very important. A visitor can’t buy what they can’t find. And they won’t undertake a process if it’s too difficult or confusing. Likewise, information that is hidden or not easily accessed will be missed. Design is called upon to solve all of these problems.

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Information Design and Usability

How information is organized is another key to providing a quality user experience. If a site is easy to use visitors will stay longer, learn more, and use more services. A proper navigation design helps visitors understand what is available to them at a glance. Having the ability to go to almost any page with just one or two clicks makes them feel comfortable and in control. Once users understand how the site works they can confidently navigate the content without being concerned about re-orienting themselves while performing a task. And creating multiple paths to important information is always a good idea.

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On-site Promotions

Part of helping visitors successfully use your website is to make important features readily available so they won’t be missed. This is done outside the navigation using promotions. Designing for promotional elements includes placement, repetition, graphic appeal, and prominence. Promotions and “calls-to-action” can be used to bring attention to events, services, new content, sale items, and much more. Highlighting items that visitors are likely to be looking for makes the user experience much smoother, and ensures that the organization’s most important content, products, or features won’t be overlooked.

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