Importance of web page look ‘n’ feel

The look ‘n’ feel of your website is important. BUT, it is less important than the text-based content. In most commercial websites, the role of the traditional graphic designer is relatively minor. The role of the information architect is central

This article focuses on look and feel.

  • “To look good is to be good - that’s the primary test when people assess a Web site’s credibility” B.J. Fogg, Ph.D (Stanford University 2002) [link]
  • “Uniformity an inherit part of a usable web site design” – Sigma Infotech [link]
  • “Complex and beautiful may win awards, but ugly and simple might just win the marathon.” – Gerry McGovern [link]
  • “Consistency is one of the most powerful usability principles”, “users spend most of their time on other websites.” – Jacob Nielsen [link]

 Dilbert.com
Figure 1 – Scott Adams ‘Dilbert’ on web design (lifted from here)

Do:

  • Ensure page layout and content style is part of the design
  • Decide on tone, phrasing and naming conventions for all language used on the site  
  • Decide on the page flow and use the same flow for all pages
  • Template as much of the layout as possible (e.g. Master page)
  • Use cascading style sheets (CSS)
  • Create reusable page components (e.g. User Controls / Server Controls)
  • Seek the advice of an imagery expert when using graphics / icons

Don’t:

  • Design as you go
  • Implement each page with no regard to how other aspects of the application work
  • Recreate components that have already been written for other parts of the application
  • Use inline styles, unless there is a good reason
  • Confuse the user with poor use of language / symbols
  • Resize, stretch, crop or distort images when displaying them as part of your application (unless this is the purpose of the application)

There are several other key elements that shouldn’t be neglected in the design phase of a project.

  • Ensure consistent feedback is given to the user (in terms of error, success messages)
  • Adopt the keep it simple stupid (KISS) approach to design
  • Ask non developers to test your application – usable web pages don’t require a manual to operate them
  • If you need to use a picture, get it sized and formatted for web site usage

Further reading:
9 Essential Principles for Good Web Design

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