5 Qualities that make a Good Designer

Web design stems from graphic design so most aspects of traditional print design apply (apart from the ink and paper). However, there are many unique problems that a web designer faces.

However if you can master the following qualities, you will be in a good position to face these challenges.

1. Be User-Centric
At the heart of good web design is good usability. If a user cannot quickly and efficiently access the information, product or service they have visited for, they will leave with a negative impression of the site and therefore the brand.

Good usability begins with the structure of information. Information architecture is the process of organising information in a logical, intuitive manner so that the user can find their way around the site quickly and painlessly. Get this wrong and the user will lose confidence in the site very quickly. To get this right, you need to step in the shoes of a user and approach the site as they would.

Personas are fictitious individuals who act as stand-ins or ‘archetypes’ of users. Using a variety of different personas for each project can identify patterns and discover what is necessary, what is unnecessary and to differentiate between what is used frequently and what is needed only infrequently.

2. Ensure graphic integrity and originality
Many aspects intrinsic to web design can hinder originality and produce cookie-cutter web sites.

  • Templates are used to display content that is dynamic and ever-changing,
  • Pages are produced with code that places restrictions on layout not found in print design,
  • Technologies restrain the use of typography
  • Our carefully laid-out designs can change dramatically on different users systems
  • Colours can vary from screen to screen.

So how do we combat this?

3…We Keep learning
The internet changes fast and new developments in web design are being made daily. Its crucial to be in constant touch with new technologies and designs to stay afloat and progress or you risk stagnating. Because of the many challenges faced in the medium – browser inconsistencies, liquid dimensions, accessibility etc – original and creative solutions are discovered all the time and you need to be constantly scouring the web for inspiration.

Stagnation can arise by following flavours of the month and not pushing yourself to discover new techniques. It’s easy to develop a style that you fall back on time and time again. It may save time but you will not be reflecting the brand if every design uses the same style.

4. Remember the Brand
A Web site is an extension of the brand just like the store down the street or the box a product comes in. In many cases the Web site will be the first interaction a customer has with the brand after seeing an advertisement, so it has to compel and reflect the brand’s values.

It is crucial to have a clear understanding of the brand for each project. The personality of a brand can be communicated with sound, animation, feedback and interaction as well as traditional graphic design.

Read the brief, then read it again. Revisit it constantly throughout the design process to ensure to are meeting the clients requirements and expectations.

5. Pay attention to detail
Focusing on “what isn’t right”—can take a design from “nearly there” to “there” and beyond. At times designers present concepts that they believe are 90-100% done. However to the detail-savvy designer, the work appears to be only 50-70% there. You can see the ground work and foundation, but you know it’s just not finished. To take a design to 100% you need to achieve polish and add the touches that will make a design really shine.

The key to embracing details is to think critically about your design. If you think an element isn’t right, try something else until you sure it works. Regardless of how ‘cool’ a particular aspect may be, if it doesn’t serve the design – get rid of it. Never be precious about your designs.

Keep notes while designing—these will form a good basis for a style guide. Consistency displays sophistication and shows that you fully understood and made sound decisions. Consistency should be transparent.

Take regular breaks during the design to step back and take another look. Your own gut reaction will likely be similar to the initial impressions of those who see it for the first time. Always step back and re-evaluate.

Details aren’t easy. They take time and patience, but you’ll be rewarded for your efforts and they are the key to producing something you’ll be proud of.

Web sites are experiences. Not only do we design graphically, but we design user interactions, we design sound and we design journeys.

A Web site isn’t just a two dimensional space rendered on a computer monitor, but a environment that leads a user down a path through space an time, reinforcing brand values.

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Posted: July 28th, 2008 under Uncategorized.


Comment from How I Lost 30 Pounds in 30 Days Without Diet
July 23, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Thanks for posting about this, I would love to read more about this topic.

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