Web De-What?! (1 Part Graphic Design to 2 Parts User-Interface Design).
Dec. 7, 2010
Why is it that some things can look incredibly beautiful, but quickly lose it the moment you start interacting with them? Nope, I'm not talking about an old flame I met down the local discotheque: I'm referring to Website Design.
Why do so many people - even experienced graphic designers - get it wrong?
When I was studying graphic design at university, one of my old tutors said to me, "Tom, designing a website is really easy, it's just a magazine with a light behind it!" Great, we thought... and all proceeded to design a collection of websites which were exactly that, nice looking magazines to be viewed on a screen. Non of them were very good websites.
You see Website Design is often looked at in the design industry as being slightly lesser than crafting exquisite printed materials. Print has a tradition and romanticism about it. It's a knowingly retro process with a proud and colourful history. You can touch it, it has a weight, a texture and even has a smell. Very nice indeed.
However I see Website design as something altogether different. It's not (just) Graphic Design Communication, it's something new, exiting and innovative. You have to also consider User-Interface design, and beyond that User-Experience (UX) design.
To design a website with the user in mind; the possible interactive scenarios they could take, the areas they may want to go to and come back from, the information they may want to read or ignore, you quickly realise that the days of clunky online design could (or should) be a thing of the past. To design something that not only looks great, but feels easy and enjoyable to use is thankfully becoming the focus of good website design as we move forward.
I should point out that I've written this article on my iPad. At this point everyone is aware of, has seen or has used the incredible touch screen and interactive technologies that have been developed in the last few years. To me, this seems like all the more reason for the rest of the world to catch up. Why can the average website viewed on a low spec notebook computer not be easy to use or user orientated. If there's a widespread revolution in hardware technologies, why cannot software designers and developers follow suit as well?
My hope is that as more designers start to embrace User Interface and User Experience design and realise the importance of beauty you can't optically see, but can touch and experience in different ways, the Internet will essentially get - better!