A Client’s Guide to Web Design

Mark Busse – No Comments

Time and time again when we present websites and online projects to clients we are met with blank stares and questions when we begin talking about the more technical aspects of what we do. From these questions we have developed a few examples of our practice that helps our clients understand why we do what we do.

Why design for 1024×768?

The truth is, this is not a hard and fast rule, but rather a general standard that has emerged based on the quality of resolution of the majority of viewers’ monitors and equipment. While ever-changing, we want to be sure that by designing at this scale we are appealing to the greatest audience and allowing the design to be viewed on multiple platforms by the most viewers without alienating anyone. Designing for this resolution also allows important content to be viewed above the fold and begins to generate a natural form of visual hierarchy. Thinking about how content is displayed is crucial for allowing a user to understand what a website is saying, to navigate intuitively, and how to get to them the information they are looking for efficiently. As mentioned, audience assessment is criticaI in design, and there are other ways to approach this same issue. Notably, responsive web design shifts the one-size-fits-all approach allowing sites to scale infinitely and to automatically reconfigure based on the device it is viewed on. In all cases, we must always prioritize information and balance its placement based on user requirements.

What is a design grid?

Whenever we start a web design project we develop a design grid to set rules and generally try and stick to them. This keeps spacing throughout a site design consistent across multiple pages. Since websites consist of multiple pages and sometimes multiple templates of pages, it is important to set up an underlying structure so that the design stays consistent from page to page and users are not confused or challenged when navigating the site.

Not all successful websites have flashy graphics or intense imagery. Some of the best designs of content rich websites follow a grid structure that organizes, compartmentalizes and allows users to access information as easily as possible. We work with design grids because setting rules is important for achieving consistency on the web, and for a brand.

What is experiential design?

Thinking about the experience a user will have when visiting and navigating your website and designing to maximize that experience is critical to its success. We constantly try and improve on the ways users interact with an online resource or website by researching and anticipating the information they will want when coming to the site and how easily they can navigate to get that information. We research into best practices for UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface) to allow for an intuitive and fluid experience. The simplicity of finding information and navigating the website are key to maximizing its effectiveness.

Why content is important.

Content is what Google looks at when searching a website. When the content of a website is strategically thought about it can launch a website to the top of a google search based on the ‘keywords’ that people use to search. This is called SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Allowing your content to be optimized to your target audience is crucial in allowing them the best chance to find you. It is important to have a look at the content that is being displayed in the navigation, the headlines and in the content of a website since it can determine whether the site will rank well on search engine results pages on google and other search engines.

Why we design with rules.

Once a rule is mastered, it is time to strive to break it. By having an understanding of what’s possible we can effectively challenge these ideas and create new design boundaries, and push bravely past them with confidence.