Have you ever wondered what makes great websites stand out from the rest? At a first glance it might seem it’s all because of unique and beautifully implemented graphics. Unsurprisingly, this is just a small part and one that tends to be overlooked by repeat visitors. In reality it takes a very fine balance between professional design, great usability and quality content. Each of these plays the main role at one particular time in the user’s relationship with the website.
We all know that first impressions count to the point where they can make or break an encounter. This is especially true about websites, where moving on to the next result on Google is merely a few clicks away.
However, as your visitors become curious to explore beyond the homepage (or whichever landing page they stumbled upon), the interface starts to become more important. Just as good design has to be simple enough, a good interface is one that feels as light and transparent as possible. It doesn’t have to get in the way or draw attention to itself. It just has to be there when you need it and provide easy access to all the available options. We’re always in a hurry and all those hours spent online have trained us to certain patterns. Without a good understanding of those, essential content can be overlooked and we’re left scratching out heads, not knowing why things don’t work out as expected.
Once the users have managed to find out what they are looking for it’s all down to the quality of the content provided. A fine example of why this is paramount to the success of a website is to picture amateurish content in the context of minimalist design. Without quality imagery (photography, illustrations, videos etc) and well written texts it all falls apart rather quickly and there’s little chance of gaining loyal followers.
This is why “form follows function” is way more than corny design talk and feels right at home with web design projects. That’s also the reason why a well written brief that helps us understand correctly what goals does the website needs to achieve is a key element to a good workflow.
In many respect websites are derived from the print and there are both upsides and downsides to this. It’s true a screen will never have the same feel or trigger the same sensations as a printed page. Still, the Web is slowly catching up to the variety of visual options available for traditional publications. On the other hand, being an interactive and dynamic medium, it provides a much more complex experience, often coupled with quick or instantaneous feedback.