Web designers and web developers often wonder what kind of things they should do so that their audience will love them. Today we will talk about those little things that create a big impact on people throughout the internet.
As an avid internet user myself, I usually remember a website (even if it has a very difficult domain name) that gave an impact to me. Like the way how every elements are laid out in harmony, the simplicity or complexity (in a good way), and many more.
What are we waiting for? I’ll start with a few things and I hope you’ll add more in the comments!
A good web designer understands that visiting a new website may be confusing at first, because it’s a new layout and the new visitor will not automatically know where to find things. The same is true when you visit a new friend’s home, you don’t know initially where the john is or where to sit and relax.
A good web designer is a good host to his guests, that’s why they will need to guide the visitors’ eyes like they are giving a tutorial on how to use the website, only it is actually without telling them. It’s the mark of a good web designer to place elements where the visitors will expect them to be, or create an attention getter. For example, the Login and Register links are usually at the top right corner of the website, below it is the search function. An example of a good attention getter are Call-to-action buttons which tells the visitor/audience what the button is about.
I’ve recently discussed the difference between using a horizontal and vertical navigation for websites. That applies here, obviously, because there will be people who would prefer to have all navigation at the top, laid horizontally.
One particular website that I love is Net Tuts+. The color scheme is simple, there’s a lot of space to breathe and navigation is simple – all of the important things you need to use to navigate the site are at the top.
While it is perfectly normal to experiment and show the world your creation, it is not really a good thing especially if you are aiming for mainstream. Take for example websites with vertical navigation. There hare websites that hit the correct spot, but such a design is not really accepted widely.
A good web designer knows when to provide their audience new things, such as art-directed designs for blog posts. They also understand that, while unique is good, it will be bad to deviate too much from the accepted standards.
Key elements such as the navigation should be placed where the visitor will expect it to be.
This might be the hardest and most stressful part of designing, making sure that your design is not messed up on different browsers and machines. One problem about new designers is that they tend to not take notice of the fonts they use, if the other users have it or not, or if it runs on a Mac and others.
Since we all have our preference with internet browsers, it is the duty of web designers to make sure that their design appear correct on my Chrome, on your Firefox, and on old Nan’s IE6.
We need to address this question here: is it a requirement that websites should look the same for every browser?
Useful article for CSS/HTML effects for people worrying about cross-browser compatibility. And yes, you’ll see good ol’ IE.
Redesign for Comfort
A good web designer does not redesign a website to give its users great discomfort, they redesign a website to make it easier to use, even for new comers. This is where some big websites failed in the past, websites like Digg and the Gawker network suffered major losses in their users because of their redesign. Whether it’s because of the redesign not being good or the hive mind at work, it’s still a great stab on them.
I’m proud to include 1stwebdesigner here. I’m pretty sure that 99% of our loyal readers and frequent visitors liked the redesign. I was actually ecstatic to see this website change from the dark blue background and small thumbnails, and a little compact front page, to what you see now.
I think you all will agree that 1stwebdesigner today is much cleaner than before. I can’t tell if it’s a good thing for certain, but the removal of tabs just after the post made the front page easier to look at.
Going back, if there’s an oath that web designers should take when redesigning a website, it should mention that they need to make things comfortable for the users, not complex.
Any of you redesigned your website? Now is the perfect time to boast your redesign by posting image links on the comments, before and after. You can take a “before” snapshot using the Internet Archive.
Listens to Feedback
Once a website goes live what owners usually do is ask people what they think about the design and functionality. You can easily spot a great web designer and web developer when they actually listen to the people and apply necessary changes when the argument is valid. People love talking to web designers and developers especially when they get the feeling of “being on the same plane,” when they respond to the people. Again, 1stwebdesigner did this when the announcement (see page 1 of comments) was made about the new design. People came flocking in and gave Dainis their suggestions. One was the size (570px by 300px) of thumbnails for the Further Readings, now changed to 150×150.
In my previous article (Ancient Web Design Practices that Beginners Should Avoid) I mentioned that the worst thing a designer could do is to not learn new things and just settle for what they already know. That they need to follow suit as technology advances for the comfort of their users.
Things like learning CSS and jQuery can mean a lot to the users, especially when it’s functionality and usability we’re talking about. Take for example major commenting systems. Three years ago you will need to refresh the webpage to see if a new comment has been posted, now you don’t have to. The same goes for Twitter and Facebook, the ease of access is there, it’s a little thing that all of us love.
Another important factor to consider on your designs is negative space, often called white space. It is often overlooked because of the thought that every nook and cranny of the website should be filled with something. Wrong. The effective use of negative space gives a sense of relaxation to the visitors, erasing the feeling of being packed in a tight space. Negative space communicate
I’m pretty sure there’s still a lot of things out there that can make visitors/audience/users fall in love with your design, so why not share them here if you know one? I’m certain that other web designers and developers will find your tips useful!
Rean concurrently served as the Head of Operations and Editor-in-Chief of 1stwebdesigner from 2011 up until Aug 2014. He regularly writes about freelancing, technology, web design, and web development with a little touch of internet marketing here and there.