Web design, like most things, is evolving at a lightening fast rate. What started out as a fairly simplistic system of tables, jpegs and text blocks has grown into a full scale graphic design platform with countless intricacies. Especially when you consider the recent surge in popularity for designer favorites, jquery and css3, it’s difficult to know where to begin . Taking all that into account it’s easy to get lost when designing a website, especially when you consider lots of the most commonly touted principles are in fact myths.
1. You must use every pixel.
There’s only so much space on the screen to make a statement with a web site, so in theory it makes sense that every bit of space should be used to the maximum. However, great designers know the importance of negative space and are never afraid to use it, in some cases, lot’s of it. Come on, this isn’t exactly a new thing in the world of design, the empty space between elements has been established as a key feature in the visual arts for hundreds of years. So don’t feel obliged to fill every little bit of space – give your designs room to breathe and they’ll be all the better for it.
2. Bigger is better.
Companies have a tendency to emphasize their logos on web pages, but remember that making a logo bigger doesn’t always make it better. While your corporate identity is important on your website, don’t allow it to over power your content. Spreading awareness for your brand is not particularly helpful if you don’t have great content to offer your visitors. The most commonly used technique is to place your logo in the top left-hand area of your page and it will be the first thing visitors see regardless of size. Look at some of the most popular sites, and pay attention to their use of logos.
3. You Only Have Three Seconds
In this current information age, everything is moving quicker. This leads to the often erroneous assumption that you have only a few precious seconds to capture a users attention before they clicks away from your page. Today’s web savvy users are a tad more patient than that. While you do want to engage the reader’s attention as fast as possible, your site should be created in such a way that it guides the visitors through the content, rather than bombarding them with information right from the start.
4. Good Design Means Complex Code
This one in particular is a a bit of a bug-bear for me. It’s easy to be convinced otherwise but let me make it clear, the best website is not always the most complicated one. While certain complex design features may lend a unique aesthetic feel to your pages, you don’t need huge strings of complex code to build a great website. Creative use of simple design principles can lead to beautifully laid out pages, whereas complicated code can often lead to jumbled aesthetics and a plethora of error messages. To put it simply, when you have more features in play, you have more things that can go wrong. My rule when it comes to design, both graphic and web is, simplicity is always better.
5. Design is Easy, Coding is Impossible
Web design has become something of a specialized field in the eyes of many people. They seem to think that the average web designer possesses some secret knowledge that no one else can possibly possess. On the contrary, web design requires two things. Designers need first, (and in my opinion most importantly) a keen eye for visual design, and second, knowledge of coding. That’s about it, no secrets or anything. Anyone can learn how to write valid code for websites if they study enough, but design sensibilities are the truly specialized skill. If you need a little help with your site, don’t be shy!