Have you ever pulled up to a stoplight that made you question the sanity of the city planner? Five separate streets emanate from the intersection like a concrete star. You’re looking at four different traffic lights, despite the fact that there are only two driving lanes. Three of the lights turn green while one turns yellow, but there’s nothing to indicate what this code might mean. Then there’s the oddly placed yield sign, that was undoubtedly planted as an afterthought as if to say, “We know that none of this makes any sense. Please be careful.”
No matter what it is that you are planning, design is important. Whether it’s an intersection or a website, you need to put proper thought into the layout. You can’t just think about what needs to be there, and throw it wherever you please. You have to consider the best possible way to arrange all of the information.
Web design should make life easier. You want people to be able to navigate your website and find information with ease. This means setting up your website in the way that makes the most sense for most people. Your pages should have obvious names and be placed in the appropriate categories.
But design is form as well as function. You need to consider both if you’re going to provide the best possible experience for the user. Maybe you have a beautiful website, but it’s a pain to navigate, or maybe it’s incredibly easy to find information on your site, but it looks terrible. Either way, it’s bad design. Good web design emphasizes functionality without disregarding aesthetics.
Unless you’re looking for it, good design can be hard to pick out sometimes. You might notice a website that’s especially easy to use, or one that’s particularly enjoyable, but often good design goes completely unnoticed. Your experience with a website might be so seamless that you don’t even pause to think about it. That’s good design.
Bad design, on the other hand, is almost always noticed. Think back to the last time you were browsing through a website, and unable to find anything that you were looking for. You probably got frustrated clicking in circles, and spent so much time and effort to find what you had come for that you couldn’t even remember what it was anymore. That is bad design.
Design should focus on the experience. With web design, this means ensuring that your website does the job that it’s supposed to do. People go to websites to get information, and that information should be easy to find.