Whether you’ve been tasked with designing an Umbraco or WordPress site, your web design priorities should always focus first and foremost on functionality.

Examples of Good web design

Good web design means a site is easy to read, easy to navigate, simple and beautiful.

Web Design
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Good web design
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Many customers have big ideas on what they would like their website to look like but are unaware that their ideas could likely end up compromising the sites functionality, rendering it useless to their visitors or customers.

A web designers input is vital in making sure that what looks good on paper translates well into a seamless, efficient and user friendly website.

Examples of bad web design

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Busy website homepage
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There are a number of things that can compromise website functionality:

  • Compromising the readability of copy by adding textured backgrounds or images
  • Using font colours that blend in with the background
  • Using a font that is hard to read or one that isn’t compatible with most computers
  • Using unusual words to describe common website links
  • Placing elements such as logos or navigation bars in an unlikely place, such as the bottom of the page
  • Using lot’s of images without the correct optimisation causing pages to load slowly
  • Using too many graphics and not enough copy, which isn’t helpful as far as SEO is concerned, and can also make it difficult for visitors to understand what the website is about
  • Using a splash page which obstructs visitors from the main site

As a designer it’s your job to know what will and won’t look good and what is and isn’t going to work, but its your clients job to be passionate about their company, brand and reputation and to have a clear idea of what they want their image to be.

So bad, it’s good?

The Lings Cars website, above, is a good example of how ‘bad’ design can work. The site has clearly been designed to look like a left over from the dark days of dial-up – this is key to the the branding and seems to work for the company concerned.

It’s actually a lot easier to navigate than it looks, but there’s just too much going on for our liking – even if that’s the idea – so from a design perspective, it’s a no from us.

The Martin Lewis-inspired MoneySavingExpert website, is another (less extreme) example of this type of branding – although a multi-million pound business, the site still looks and feels like it’s run by a small business, or even Martin Lewis himself, and this is how that particular brand has built up trust in the price comparison sector, while other brands are still viewed with some suspicion.

So how do you compromise between two visions?

EXPLAIN

If you want to portray a professional and consistent image, be honest with your clients. If you believe their ideas will damage the purpose and functionality of the site, let them know and then provide realistic alternatives that closely match their desired outcome.

Keep in mind that the end result should be something you want to keep as part of your design portfolio, and that if your name is on it it’s likely other potential clients are going to take this into consideration when deciding whether to work with you in the future.

SHOW

If you have the opportunity to sit down with them or send them content to consider, then do so. Show them what their website should resemble, show them what would work best, show them successful sites that serve a similar purpose to theirs. They may even have ideas that you hadn’t thought of as their creativity isn’t constrained by practical design solutions in the same way as a designers.

PROVE

If your client is really pushing for an idea that you know from a design perspective just isn’t going to work, then you need to prove it to them. Design a quick mock-up and show them how and why it doesn’t work; point out key problems, act as the visitor or customer and let them see it from an outsiders perspective. If after all that they’re still set on their idea then as a designer you will have done all you can to point out the potential impacts it may have on their site.

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