Web Design is a gigantic subject. There are so many aspects to web design that it is absolutely impossible to cover the entire subject in one blog. Not only are there an endless amount of sub topics, design in itself is so very subjective that any one tutorial or definition can be interpreted in as many ways as there are people blogging about it. Design in itself is abstract, it covers every realm; clothing, architecture, industry, advertising, the body, the mind, and of course the web. Web design covers not only the layout and imagery used to make a website, it also deals with the organization and presentation of textual content, the software and tools used as well as the psychology of perception and human behavior. All and all, design is the attempt to guide the perception of the observer to whatever end the designer intends and website design is no different.
Design, when used properly, is the device used to persuade the observer to buy a product, click a particular button, or engage in a particular emotion. When we see a well designed web site we get the one second of “wow, that’s cool” or “Yuck, I think I’ll click the next thing I see to get me out of here”. These are all valid goals of the web designer. Many times a “non response” is desired, if the textual content is the desired focal point then the design must be transparent so the reader is not distracted from reading.
Like marketing, design is a form of mind control (evil laugh in background). This aspect of design is quite apparent when watching TV commercials. One of the better examples is toy commercials, the action figure is posed or moved in very natural ways, Barbi’s hair is waving in the breeze or a Hot Wheels race car is flying through the air in slow motion, flames are spewing from the dragon’s nostrils etc… The kids are mesmerized and the next time they’re in the toy isle they run to the box that shows the amazing toy in all its glory on the glossy box cover. Of course when they open the thing and see the uninteresting plastic replica of what they saw on TV it takes only a few moments before the realization occurs. The toy gets shelved a day or two later and the kid is back in front of the TV absorbing another rendition of the greatest toy on earth.
This brings to mind a famous routine by the late George Carlin, the one about tampon commercials. It’s that time of the month and the poor girl is all depressed and grouchy, however after using the product she is swimming and running around playing tennis and all smiles and laughter… “What are f**k are they putting in those things, drugs?”
Sales and marketing is an art form and design is an integral part. The internet is no different and perhaps even more so as it progressively replaces the brochure, the billboard, the business card, and all forms of signage we were once used to. Yes, these days almost anyone can make a website but it takes a pro to properly apply web design to create the right response.