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 spent on your site will be productive and satisfying:
Website design is not simply about graphics. Indeed, graphic appeal and visual impact are important, but design is much more than “the look.” 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.
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.
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 complex or confusing. Likewise, users will miss information that is hidden or not easily accessed. Design is called upon to solve all of these problems.
The organization of information is another critical aspect of a quality user experience. If a site is easy to navigate, 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. Going 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 browse through the content without being concerned about re-orienting themselves while performing a task. And creating multiple paths to important information helps ensure that important information will be found.
Part of helping visitors use your website successfully is to make essential features highly visible so they won’t be missed. This is accomplished outside the navigation with promotions. Designing for promotional elements includes placement, repetition, graphic appeal, and prominence. Promotions and “calls-to-action” bring attention to events, services, new content, sale items, etc. Highlighting the things visitors are likely to be looking for aids them and ensures they won’t overlook the most valuable content, products, or features.
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