There’s More to Designing a Good Website than Pretty Pictures

Good web designers have been double face-palming since the advent of the template-based website creation phenomenon struck the web like a meteor hitting the last dinosaur settlement. There is no going back. Now that everyday users can create their own website with less complexity than parsing a Starbucks menu, the web has become hideously ugly, unsafe, and barely usable.

Fear not, good web design doesn’t have to become extinct. It just means that everyday users need to learn and apply some basic principles to the sites we create. Here are some tips that will help restore quality to the web:

Hire a Web Designer

The best way for you to make sure you have a quality website is to hire a quality website creator. You probably have any number of partially done do-it-yourself projects that should not have been done yourself. Don’t let your website be one of them. You might be an excellent accountant. But that doesn’t make you a good web designer. Hire a good web designer. And chances are you will gain a client for your accounting practice – unless they happen to be one of those do-it-yourselfers.

Secure Your Own Computer

Even if you are just using a template to create your website, you are a developer. You are building something, and putting it out in the world for others to use. That means you have to start thinking like a developer. Often, developers have two computers: one used exclusively for development. Chances are, you only have one computer, and run your website from that. For that reason, alone, you have a responsibility to keep your own computer secure.

The last thing you want is for some virus on your development computer to infect your site. If you are a Mac user, you should be using antivirus software to:

  • Block dangerous websites
  • Protect your privacy on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn
  • Provide safe surfing in general

Though the viruses that attack via email attachments may not effect your machine directly, they can be passed on to everyone else, perhaps even the users of your site. Keeping a secure development machine is the right thing to do for you, and the people who visit your site.

Romance the White Space

It is time for amateur web developers to develop a love affair with white space. A quick look at the worst websites on the net will demonstrate a lack of awareness regarding the importance of white space.

The font you choose needs proper spacing so that the letters stand out on both a desktop monitor and a smartphone. Rather than calling attention to certain elements with arrows, colorful background, and flashing lights, a little white space around that element will do the trick nicely. It also helps to keep the page looking uncluttered. There is plenty of room for your pretty pictures. Just don’t forget to leave room for the white space.

Keep It Super Simple

The key to great design is not about how much you can put into something, but how much you can leave out of it. Though talking about physical products, perhaps Jonathan Ive said it best:

The better way is to go deeper with the simplicity, to understand everything about it and how it’s manufactured. You have to deeply understand the essence of a product in order to be able to get rid of the parts that are not essential.

Getting rid of the parts that are not essential is the key. How many pictures does your page need? How many ads, links, or panes are necessary for you to get your point across? Everybody in the world can access 100% of a simple site. The more complexity you ad, the fewer people you can reach.

Keep it super simple. Romance the white space. And secure your own computer. These things will not make you a professional web developer. But they will improve your current and future efforts exponentially. For something more complex than a personal blog, consider hiring a pro, right after you call a plumber to fix that last project you started.

%d bloggers like this: