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  • Striking A Balance In Web Design: Beauty vs Usability

    Posted on 02/27/2013 by Caitlin in Design, Web Design

    Web Designers face the challenge of creating a beautiful site that is also usable and highly functional 

    Finding the perfect balance between a beautifully designed but yet user and search engine friendly website is a challenging task. Most experts are only concerned with one or the other – they either want to show how to make a website more beautiful or how to make it work better. Larger web design firms seem to hire experts who are either brilliant designers/artists or who specialize in programming, SEO, and straight HTML/CSS coding. There is an attitude in the design world that the artists and the programmers are worlds apart in the way that they think and the way they see the web. While this is true, there are plenty of talented individuals who have the wit and creativity to be both designers and strategists. In order to create a successful site, the two worlds must collide and we must integrate the art of design and the philosophy of great and usable website building. Therefore, to be successful in this industry, one must be willing and able to wear as many hats as possible.

    The Beauty of Web Design as an Art

    The first thing design needs to achieve is beauty. Creating an aesthetically pleasing design is extremely important because users must be visually engaged and they must subconsciously or consciously enjoy the site for long enough to receive the information that the page is intended to give. Our goal is for the site to be memorable and give off the impression that the brand has created.

    With all of the possibilities on the web it is easy to get carried away and focus entirely on the beauty of web design. Trying to come up with the newest and most interesting concepts out there can get a designer sidetracked and forget about the user experience and usability. We don’t always have the privilege of creative freedom – but we can always think of new and exciting ways to express the clients’ brand with a unique twist.

    Designers are trained to use visual elements to guide the visitor’s eye around the page and lead them toward the most useful and important information. As artists, we also get pleasure from creating something beautiful and sharing it with the world with such a useful, accessible, and pragmatic medium.

    There are thousands sources of inspiration available to designers who want to get creative with their work. While some of them are way over-the-top and might not exactly work anywhere else, we can pick and choose which elements we may want to incorporate into our own designs, or at the very least, keep on top of trends and new ideas.

    There is so much going on in the world of web design on a visual level that it can almost be overwhelming. Feeling over-inspired is a confusing and common emotion in this community. With each project comes the opportunity to expand our horizons and further our artistic education.

    These designs are gorgeous, but they might be difficult to navigate and are impractical for most businesses. Despite this, we can be inspired by their bold use of background colors.

    The Science of Strategic Web Design

    Most of us live in the real world. We are hired by clients who expect and deserve certain results when they hire us to create their page. They need to see results in terms of searchability, new visitors, and user experience. They have lots of information to share and they want to make sure the world hears what they have to say. This is why we need to somehow strike the perfect balance between a site that is beautiful, fun and also practical, usable, and informative.

    While there aren’t many people who design websites and also code and implement them, I feel that these talents, when combined, can produce some of the most successful pages on the web. Designers might focus too much on looks and developers might not be able to make something look great. Someone who has or values both of these qualities will create the most successful sites.

    Artists and designers must therefore be open minded and willing to learn. With their vision in mind, they must know that proper site building requires a lot of thought and a little extra work. They should know the basics of SEO and the things that search engines like, or more importantly – the things search engines really don’t like. They should know the client and his or her desired audience. They should never be willing to sacrifice visitors to make something with flash or something difficult to read.

     

    These are examples of highly informative, highly practical designs. We can learn from the way they utilize space and create a hierarchy of information.

    The Challenge of Achieving Beauty & Usability

     

    This website is visually pleasing and presents information in an organized, content-oriented way.

    There are some extremely talented designers who have the incredible ability to dream up a unique and beautiful website. There are also experts who understand the way that content interacts with users and the need to build websites that are easy to navigate and to understand. The biggest challenge I face as a designer is finding a balance that allows me to create beautiful sites that visitors will not only enjoy, but will also easily get them all of the information they came to find. I can’t think of another industry that is more constant in the way it changes and in the way we must adapt. With all of the incredibly talented artists and designers who are working today, combined with all of the brilliant programmers and strategists, the only true way to get ahead is to create a site that visitors will truly enjoy visiting and where they will easily receive the information that they came to find.

    About Caitlin

    Front End Web Developer & Designer