Yesterday I was told by a "full stack web developer" that my design looked dated, it looked 90's I suspect it may have to do with the images that my client wants on the site, rather than the lay out. I designed web sites in the 90's, My first was designed in 1996. Simple plain layout was pretty much unheard of back then, The majority of websites had garish back grounds. The only way to layout a website was with tables and HTML was a lot more basic than it is today.
User experience trumps all in web design
Back then we thought design was meant to be daring and User experience wasn't on the top of the list, but mind you my first paying client, Remax only had 24 visits the entire years and I think half of those were me and the management. I won web design awards for work that I now consider terrible. I realised fairly early on that companies were not wanting to spend money on web sites to impress designers.
Over the years I have met many designers that thought that they always know better than the client, and that clients get in the way of the design process. I have a different concept. I assume the client knows his business better than I do, I also know what works and what doesn't, so I will guide the client toward what does.
Speed of the web site comes a close second
In about 2000 Macromedia released Flash and the web design community went crazy, Animation and video became a reality. The big problem was that Flash could not be read by the search engines. As a results oriented web developer, I adjudicated it to be a bad idea for businesses that wanted results and a great idea for those with unlimited bandwidth and budgets to advertise their websites elsewhere.
I advised my clients not to do flash and lost more than one client to Flash agencies. What they all had in common was that Search engine results that they had been getting were lost. Pretty looks nice, but functionality always get's better results. This website as an example is very simple in layout and could be a whole lot prettier, I could have a lot more moving parts, but my focus is on you getting to my content.
The best content wins the laurels
Facts are that clients rarely become clients on the first visit to any website, and my job is to give you all the information you need to make a decision. I must make that information easy to find and understand and I must make the process as quick as possible. The more difficult a website is to navigate the more likely a visitor is to leave.
The slower a website is the less likely they are to stay. These are facts that people way smarter than me have proven statistically. Does this mean I am advocating for ugly web sites? Not at all, I advocate for simple easy to use sites where the info is readily available without too many tierlantyntjies (bells and whistles). You want your web site visitors to buy after all, not be in awe of all your gizmos and gadgets.
If your web site is not mobile friendly, you lose
More than 50% of your visitors will be on mobile devices, so all the bells and whistles will be an annoyance more than value. People in the 90's were looking for information, back in th 00ugties they wer looking for information and today, they are looking for information. He who supplies the best information wins and does the sale.
The more information you have on your website and the longer people spend on it, the more the search engines like it as well. Be a devil give more and better information than your opposition, it works. Three months ago when I started building this web site the competition levels seemed crazy. My chances of getting to number one could have been deemed impossible. I am not there yet but I am on page one in some instances, and I have already started getting leads.
That is far more valuable than impressing other web designers.
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