It’s not just about the design – a designers view

After mentioning Andy (my business partner and designer) yesterday, I thought I’d seek his point of view on what website design means to a User Experience guru:

“A web designer to me is a not some lovely who sits there designing pretty screens that use nice photoshop filters and shapes that are will win awards as a fine arts piece at college.

“Today a web designer needs to wear many hats in order to truly perform this role. Yes, they need to have a damn good eye for the aesthetics of a good layout, colour scheme and presentation of information, much like a graphic designer, a web designer needs to take this skill and evolve.

“Yesterday Gregor mentioned the journey through the website. This is a separate hat to that of the design hat; this is an information architect’s hat. The good old 3 click rule is always at the back of an architect’s mind, the user should never be more than 3 clicks away from the information they require. This basically means that the information being shared on a website should not be buried away, not as easy as it sounds.

“When designing the look and feel of a website, the navigation is always a focal piece of the overall design. A good designer will adopt this into their design; the bad ones hide it away as if it is an afterthought.

“There is also the consultant’s hat. Understanding the business that you are designing for is paramount to a good wed designer. A comment on yesterday’s blog emphasizes this “if you are delivering a service that affects how the clients business is perceived, as in its web site, then you need to understand what the business is about, what’s is message and ultimately who is its client base.

“Then there is the techie hat, or the cone head hat, as I call it. Coming from an early product design background, I find this hat easier to wear. I am not talking about understanding how Ajax, XML tags or Java beans are constructed. What I am talking about here is understanding the constraints of the technology that you designing for: it’s no good designing a square peg for a round hole.

“And lastly, it’s the good of open hat golfing sun visor. Yes, all designers think that their design is the best, either that or you are the opposite and are you own worst critic, hating everything you do. A good designer needs to be open to comment, especially from the client. If you have already worn the previous hats in your time with the client then this hat shouldn’t be so hard to wear. “

Gregor Spowart is a partner in Mass Media Design, a website design and Internet Marketing company based in Reading (Berkshire), Swindon (Wiltshire) and Cardiff.  Gregor is an SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) specialist.