Recent years have seen a surge in new websites. And the barrier for new users is relatively low. Techniques learnt the hard way by generations of designers can now be achieved by non-professionals in just a few keystrokes.
Moreover, pre-designed templates are a very attractive option. Users tend to adopt them because they are cheap and (at first sight) uncomplicated. However, not all websites are equal.
This is where the specialisms of a good web designer start to show. Peek under the hood of any website and you can soon detect problems, which fall into a number of categories:
Style over substance. The website looks great but offers little new or original. Perhaps the content is poorly-composed or badly presented. Or perhaps it’s the other way round – the content is fine but the style, layout, color scheme or images are just poor choices.
Slow loading. In the algorithm-driven world of the search engine, milliseconds matter! Websites that run efficiently and neatly, with minimum unnecessary content, padding, or bloat, perform better in search results.
Electric disco. We often see sites that have been overdesigned. Typically they are a muddle of colours, graphics, fonts, and poor spacing. Multiple popups or advertisements interrupt the flow of reading. Usually the designer has not thought sufficiently about the user experience (UX). Dig deeper, and you may find a breakdown in trust between the client and the designer.
Can you navigate the site? The design and content are fine, but navigating the website is a nightmare. The menu is not intuitive and forms do not behave properly. Information on some pages is confused, mismatched or out of date
Does it work on mobile? A ‘responsive’ site is one that scales perfectly for mobile phones. This is not just a question of legibility and font-sizes. It could mean, for instance, that a booking form that appears at the top of a laptop screen needs to move to the end of the screen when scrolling on mobile.