skin deep design
… serves us best.
Getting the visual themes, balance and details somewhat right may be all one has to master in web design, as that is
after all what the majority of visitors see and judge sites by. That is; if they notice much of the design at all while focusing on content
or latest super deals on offer.
The old “content is king” mantra still holds up.
Much has been written about visual web design, but in the end good web design serves only one purpose: to assist in serving
content the best way possible.
Now we only need some great content providers to complete the loop…
The more sense a web page makes at source-code level, the easier it is to – literally – create an artificial structure and stretch a visual design over it before serving. Visual reordering of content carrying elements relative to source-code order may work in some cases, but it is rarely ever optimal. The “only the visual matters” trap is very real, and easy to fall into while designing.
NOTE: I still miss some flexibility surrounding CSS floats order – no real improvements in 20 years seems a bit daft, but I can live with what we have.
There is no single “right” formula for good web designs – neither outcomes nor methods involved, only a range from good to acceptable to bad and worse ways to build up and serve a design.
Less is almost always more in web design, but if done well and balanced, a lot of visual details can be added before it gets overloaded. In most cases the trick is to stick with one theme and style throughout, and avoid distracting from the main content.
Sites focusing on a single range of subjects, may do fine with strong emphasis on that subject-range in its visual design. Most sites provide the best impression with toned-down and more or less subject-neutral designs though.
NOTE: I could have lightened the design a lot on this site and got it right. But, as this is a “live browser test” as much as a platform for delivering content, quite a few seemingly superfluous, overdone, and often altered or replaced visual details are crammed in for testing purposes.
the wider range
Over the last couple of decades, what can be included on a web site to design around or leave as stand-alone apps, has (of course) increased and evolved in complexity. Makes the old “web page” function less and less like a page, and more like a delivery-box in a warehouse for which adresses must be provided.
That the ranges of screens, devices and apps have widen tremendously in the same timeframe, also make choices about
“who”, or “what”, to design for, more difficult for some. It shouldn't really matter though.
Designwise and otherwise, what we create should work reasonably well across the entire technical and programmatical range that adhere to existing standards.
Regarding the “who” part; you can't please everyone anyway, so just pick a group of potential visitors to
a given site, and design it to please them.
It is my impression that many design to satisfy their own taste, and of course to meet clients' wishes and demands. Others design according to what they think are good advices, mainly from others in the trade.
All good as long as the finished work meet expectations.
NOTE: Once the purely technical conditions are met, I try to avoid making “improvements” on the underlying work. Chances are improvements for some will become barriers for others.
all the same, or what…
If all designers, front-end coders and web developers followed the same formulas to the letter, the world of web design would most likely be a boring place of “sameness” with nothing standing out. Luckily they do not, and with a bit of luck they never will get to that point.
Does not mean we should not do our best to reduce and/or eliminate as many barriers, bugs and bad solutions as possible while performing our web design related crafts. A state of Nirvana may last for hours after jobs well done even if nobody else notice the finer details, especially those behind the scene…
last rev: 17.dec.2020