There are many different types of web design, from those built using website templates and ‘build your own site building applications to complex content managed and e-commerce web designs such as those used by big brand names like Amazon, eBay, and Tesco. Some companies, even some big-name companies, have unprofessional-looking and badly designed websites. Some have amazing-looking websites, but because of their high graphical content and minimal text, content can take an age to load, are not user-friendly, and does not provide what the visitor wants.
Good Website Design
Though many aspects of website design differ from site to site, many things remain the same throughout most websites on the internet. Most notably is the navigation or menu. How a website’s menu works and looks is very important. Ultimately, visitors to a website are looking for certain criteria that will make them either stay and interact or leave. This ability for a website to keep visitors interested is sometimes referred to as stickiness. Visitors want an attractive, visually exciting experience, but perhaps more importantly, they want ‘ease of use.’ Website usability is a key factor for websites that want visitors to stick around, inquire and ultimately complete a transaction and order a product or service.
Easy to Use Web Design
Internet users tend to prefer easy-to-use websites because they do not want to learn how to use a website every time they find a new one. They should be able to use a website after only a few seconds of looking at a homepage anymore, and they will leave and browse elsewhere. The need for fast user interaction is vital, and therefore having a fast-loading website is also important for a website to succeed. Even with faster internet connections such as broadband, internet users don’t want to wait around.
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Just imagine, if you go to a shop on the high street and are totally ignored by shop assistants at the counter for 5 minutes, even after you have made it clear you want help. There is a correlation here to how an internet user may feel when they arrive at a website that has been poorly designed, is difficult to use, is unfriendly, and is slow to load. Making sure that a website has been well thought out and designed with the user in mind, displays a company’s unique selling points within easily recognizable eye-catching calls for action, and has a clear, easy-to-use menu is key to its success.
Flash Web Design
With recent web design advancements, such as the introduction of Flash animation and high definition video content, impressive websites have been produced to take advantage of much higher levels of visual effects and interaction. However, with this ‘high-end’ web design comes a price; more often than not, web designs that rely heavily upon Flash content are often prolonged to load. They often have a progress bar, which slowly goes across the web browser to signify when the website will finish loading.
This is much like the progress bars that you may be familiar with if you use video editing or 3D rendering software or games consoles where they are displayed whilst you wait for games to load. Internet users, on the whole, do not want to wait 3 – 5 minutes for a web page to load, even if it does feature high-resolution images, animation, or video. They want fast, informative content-rich websites. If they wanted to watch an animation or video, they would watch TV.
Good Flash Web Design
This is not to say that Flash animation is bad news and shouldn’t be used in web design. If used subtly and in small amounts, it can make a website more visually appealing without slowing the load time down too much. Suitable uses for Flash animation in web design are things such as; Flash banner advertisements, Flash video, and interactive Flash forms for online questionnaires or business presentations.
Using Flash for a whole website design, however, is not such a good idea. It slows the user’s experience down because they have to wait for elements of it to load. Also, sites totally developed in Flash tend to use unfamiliar menu structures and features. This can confuse visitors who want to interact quickly with the website and not be amazed by how the menu animates. Just because you can do these things in Flash, it doesn’t mean they have any real working value in the real world. They may look pretty, but they have no real value if they are not functional and only irritate the visitor.
Flash Web Design & SEO
Another argument against using Flash to create a whole website is that it dramatically reduces your websites’ Search Engine Optimisation effectiveness. Flash web designs comprise one main file within a web page that search engines find difficult to index. This is because the text within them is usually graphical and therefore is not accessible by search engines. Recent developments allow some text to be displayed for search engines in Flash websites, but this is nowhere near as effective as text content within traditional HTML-based websites.
Don’t Write Off Flash in Web Design.
Although Flash does have its limitations, it also has its good points if used correctly. For instance, Flash animation is usually smaller in file size than traditional gif animation, and because of the way it is made, the animation flows smoother than gif animation. Having said this, I would recommend only using Flash in small areas within the site to compliment other imagery that makes up the overall design. Finding a balance between minimal graphical elements, imagery, Flash, and good quality informative text is the key to a successful, user-friendly website. This isn’t to say that web design needs be boring. By working with quality web design companies, there’s no reason why you couldn’t have a visually exciting, well-designed, easy to use, and successful website.
Visually Stimulating Web Design
When visitors first arrive at a website, they want to be impressed and engaged with what the website offers. This will be determined by how the web designer has laid out the website’s content text, images, and features. Arranging elements such as imagery, text, graphics, flash, and video in such a way as to keep the visitor interested in the website is the key to good web design. If a website has poor design and doesn’t grab the visitor’s attention in the first few seconds, then it may well be dismissed as just another average website. This ultimately means the visitor will go elsewhere to spend their time and, more importantly, money.
Good Web Design Layout
A lot of time and money is spent making sure that the right elements of websites are positioned in the right places. Companies spend large amounts of money researching how internet users use their websites. This type of research shows where their visitors’ eyes concentrate the most, which website elements they click on first, and generally how they interact and use their websites. Most internet users will look primarily from the top left, either across the page or down the left-hand side of the web page, through an internet browser via a computer, mobile phone, or TV set.
I would hazard a guess that they are looking for the company’s name or logo, their main selling points or slogans, and what the website has to offer in terms of what is featured on the menu. After which, their eyes are probably drawn to the page content and over to the right-hand side. Successful web design usually considers this and will ultimately affect the way a website looks.