30 Nov How can non-technical users Differentiate between Average & Awe-inspiring Design
The question is of grave importance because 95% of users who engage with designs are not designers.
For what it’s worth, I too am not one, I’m a marketer. I have no formal training in designing, but I’ve developed a designing sense over the years. I have supervised websites, brochures, internet ads, info-graphics, business cards, marketing collaterals, spearheaded designing campaigns.
That’s because I happen to be a Digital marketer at IvoryShore where I work with expert designers day in and day out. However, quintessentially speaking, I’ m still an outsider, which makes me eligible to answer this question.
So, here’re my two cents.
The Good, the Bad, the Ugly of a Design
Do you need to be a pâtissier to tell the difference between delectable or average pastry?
Do you have to be an automobile engineer to appreciate a car?
Of course, likings are personal and there are some general, agreed upon rules that defines excellent, average, poor and horrible website designs.
Yet no rules are engraved in stone!
While we can define the contours of an effective design, its overall appeal can still be subjective; it remains vast and at times indecipherable. There are all sorts of unconventional designs and radically simple designs that take the cake.
There’s a principle that I have followed in my career from the day one, if a design can work for the most unskilled person in my office, it can work for the user.
Moral of the story, do break the rules, but it’s good to know them first.
Designs are for individuals, not for people collectively!
When making a website, it’s necessary to keep an individual in mind. Snazzy designs are like billboards that get a second look from every passerby, but it is an intuitive interface that makes it useful. A good design must communicate with the user and comfort them.
At the same time, every user, designer or not knows what a bad design is. It’s at the back of their mind; they just don’t know how to articulate it in technical terms.
The more puzzled they get, the more their patience is tested, faster they abandon the site.
There was a time when Apple followed,Skeuomorphism– a design style that took its cues from the real world, which is why iBooks appeared like a real wooden bookshelf and Quicktime player looked like a stereo.
In many ways it was an attempt to bridge the gap between the old days and the new technology, in order to humanize the design.
Good Designs are Invisible
How many times have you looked at Facebook’s homepage thoroughly (noticed anything apart from the Login and Password fields)? Like, on the left hand side of the page, it says, Connect with friends and the world around you on Facebook.
Truth is average users don’t care about this text, because on a functional level, Facebook’s design is matchless. Which is why, a good design is invisible in nature.
It shouldn’t be over the top and it shouldn’t interfere with the site’s purpose.
What could be better than engaging people with your website, straightaway?
It’s when a design fails this purpose, that other faults are noticed.
Facebook, Wikipedia, Google, Amazon, eBay, MSN, Yahoo, YouTube, are all examples that help users get to the point without fuss.
Is the Web design Logical?
I also call them ‘adaptable websites’, because such websites have the ability to adapt with every user’s I.Q level. That’s what makes them logical, hence universal.
All great brands have become great by making it more and more logical for their users. Take McDonalds, Apple, MSN, Yahoo. Their presentation, layout, and other aspects remain largely the same across continents. Such websites find an immediate connect with the users, because they’re highly graspable.
Logical websites don’t need to be fancy as they are already intelligent.
To find out if a website is logical or not, just compare it with some of your favorite or most frequented sites. You’ll get a picture.
The chances of a website being selected by its prospective client is similar to a good RÃ©sumÃ© getting picked up by a potential employer out of a hundred odd candidates.
The bottom-line is, if a website is engaging, it will survive.
Even if you’re not a trained website designer, the universality of a good web design will not be lost on you.
Whereas, if you don’t find a website interesting, and are not able to pinpoint the problem, your actions will speak the verdict; like, you may not visit it too often.
What is user behavior, after all?
A good design connects with its audience immediately.
Of course the purpose of a website plays a major part. For a florist it’s to sell more flowers; for a restaurateur, it’s more customers through the door.
Surely, there’s a lot more you can learn, but identifying between ‘appeal’ and ‘clutter’ is good enough for a start!