Good design vs bad design

Hey! Welcome to!

Now today we'll speak of the differences that make website design good or bad. One could write a brick-thick book on that but here's what you've got to know as a webdev team manager:

  • Good design meets goals (more on that here). It's not about illustrations or beauty or something. Believe me, I've worked as a lead designer and art-director for years now and that's what I learned the hard way. You don't have to make your own mistakes to learn this ))
  • It's simple. Noone needs all these niceties and half-screen flash teasers and all this stuff. Noone except for design studio sites (and we're not talking about making a site for yourself here) needs to show off their drawing skills. Some more on simple design here;
  • The site doesn't have to be stuffed with all kinds of things imaginable - it'd better have much space for the eye to rest on. Even if you've got lots of information;
  • Every element has its purpose and is in the place;
  • All information is clear to understand and easy to access. Now that the 3-click-rule is known to be false today (scientific study has proven that visitors that want to find something will do it anyway if they are totally into what the site has to offer) the clear access is a key feature. We can even say it's what web 2.0 is all about: good information presentation;
  • Good design is tailored to the visitor's portrait (more on that in the tomorrow's hint)
  • It must be SEO-ready (you can ask your partners who perform SEO optimization how to achieve this or just google it)
  • Group information elements by their content. It comes from pre-historic print design and is still true. Menu here, news & coming products here, main contents there. You know.
So what's a bad design? A design in itself, a nice but useless collection of graphics, banners, headlines, all kinds of stuff that runs you mad in seconds.

The bad news is that everyone considers himself a designer and that includes you clients, too. So they will almost surely tell you and your designer that you should place green letters on red background, oh yeah, that's sad.

The good news, however is that you can always prove you point to the client if you do it right. Tell him or her what a good design is (see above) and make sure that he/she understands it. That will save you a lot of time. From my experience I can tell that about almost one third of the actual development cycle is spent on design and its approval.

Also make sure your design team understands these principles as well. Ask them questions to check out if they get it during the interview, or tell them about you vision during team meetings.

Most designers think of themselves as artists, though web design is more of a science including usability (oh it's good to have a usability expert in your team or if your designer has studied this) knowledge of trends, tools, technologies, XHTML coding (designers don't have to code themselves but they surely must think of coders when designing a webpage to avoid useless changes and compromises later).

That's why you have to be fairly democratic with them but nevertheless make your point that it's all about having the customer satisfied, not creating a stunning picture cool to look at but hard to find information in and not suitable for the web.

That being said you must listen to your designers in terms of what's good or bad but evaluate their work using the good design principles shown above.

So how can it profit you?
Good design saves time and helps you satisfy the client better.

Check out the full contents of the future book for more info!

I'd like to know how helpful was this advice, add your comments here please! And as always - I will be more than pleased to answer any questions you might have so feel free to ask them ))