What makes great web design?

by Sonja and Sharon on November 17, 2010

We put this important question to some of the best designers in the West.  Read on for their answers.

“Usability and utility, i.e. hierarchy, positioning, white space, typography, consistency, simplicity.”

Iain Claridge: Web designer at www.iainclaridge.co.uk

“A strong, definable hierarchy of information woven with clear navigation that—through its unique behaviour—communicates your brand.”

Lizzie Everard: Designer and artist at www.lizzieeverard.com

“Functionality – it’s got to work. Intuitive – users should always know ‘where do I go now?’”

Nick Wood: Account Director at www.creationdesign.co.uk

“Something that’s easy, fun, or enjoyable to use, that delivers what you need.”

Remco Merbis: Creative Director at www.pixillion.co.uk

“There are a lot of aspects that go to making great web design – planning, usability, increasing user engagement are key.”

Tim Ketterer: Founder of www.floatdesign.net

“Great web design is about usability, intuitive navigation and good information architecture.”

Daniel Penfold: Designer at www.knifesmith.co.uk/danielpenfold

“Speed, compliancy and engagement.  If I have to wait 30 seconds for something to download, I’m not going to stick around.”

David Nutley: Creative Director at www.nutleys.com

Easy access to relevant, high quality information makes a site valuable to users. Opportunity and encouragement to interact makes for a rewarding user experience. Finally, inspiring a user to take action and letting them know what action is required is the key to measuring the success of the site.

Whether a website is selling a product, service or simply an idea, it should deliver. Design, as opposed to styling, will help a website deliver its content in a compelling manner.”

Marc French: Creative Director at www.essential-marketing.com

Engagement, intuitive navigation and utility – putting the user first is the thread that runs through all their answers. Just like good content, when it comes to good web design, it seems that usability, clarity and customer-focus are the watchwords.

Many thanks to all our design contributors.

What’s your view? We’d love to know what you think makes the best designed websites great. Which websites do it best in your opinion?

We look forward to your thoughts.

Sharon and Sonja


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Sonja and Sharon

Sonja Jefferson and Sharon Tanton help people to win more business from the web by creating and sharing valuable content.

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What makes great web design? | WebDevKungfu
November 30, 2010 at 7:41 pm

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Kristina Hughes November 24, 2010 at 1:19 pm

From the point of view of a complete luddite, I would list: simplicity; usability; style; a lack of those annoying pop-up window thingys (or ads from other companies); a sense of trust and and feeling that the web designer has actually put him/herself into the shoes of the user – in that order.

avatar Sonja Jefferson November 24, 2010 at 1:28 pm

I like your luddite view – your list is spot on in my view. I also hate those pop-ups (don’t get Sharon started on them either!). Thanks for the comment.

avatar Valerie Polding November 24, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Communication, usability, functionality. Take away the aesthetics and will it still work, will you be able to efficiently complete your top tasks. The journey has to be smooth. Amazon is a good example.

avatar Sonja Jefferson November 24, 2010 at 5:02 pm

That’s a really interesting test Valerie. Thanks ever so much for sharing that one. I’ll remember it. Sonja

avatar Sharon Tanton November 24, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Thanks Valerie and Kristina. Yes, pop-up ads are a pet hate of mine. And I love the word ’smooth’ to describe how websites should work. Perfect.

avatar El December 1, 2010 at 7:46 am

Very interesting!!!

avatar Ryan James February 28, 2011 at 10:48 am

Another great article from Valuable Content… which totally underlines what I think is most important about a good website…

A good website will speak directly to the needs of its target audience and will engage them instantly. Content IS king. Creativity, imagery and functionality simply can’t substitute for good relevant content.

However to maximise and leverage relevant content, strong design and intiutive navigation/user experience are essential. There is no point having good content if I can’t find it and you don’t make it easy for me!

Although the Valuable Content website is essentially a blog, your design is clean, simple and enhances the value of your content. Perfect mix. Well for me anyway, and I would guess that I’m part of your target audience?

avatar Sonja Jefferson February 28, 2011 at 1:09 pm

You certainly are Ryan! Thanks for the comment and feedback. I totally agree with you – design and content HAVE to work together symbiotically.

This site is both a website and blog, leading with what we hope is the information that our target audience (you!) actually value. I’m delighted that you feel it delivers.

We couldn’t have done it without the help of Iain Claridge – a designer who understands and pays attention to typography and layout as well as brand design and website build: a rare and important combination of skills – just what is needed in today’s world where (well designed) content rules!

Sonja

avatar Dee March 2, 2011 at 11:42 am

It’s simple… KISS… As a wise ol’ man once said to me “Keep It Simple Stupid”

The less a user has to work to find the information they need the more successful the design.

The best web design understands its audience and delivers relevant content.

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