Web Design Advice

What is Design?


As a kind of follow up to a previous post I thought I’d talk a little about design. What is design? How do you define it? What is good design etc? Many times we have clients coming to us asking for a new website or a redesign of an existing site and quite often they can be split into 3 categories.

  1. Clients who don’t really know what they want and are happy for you to take the lead.
  2. Clients who very much know what they want and will “help” you for want of a better word all the way through the design process.
  3. Clients who act like they don’t really know what they want, are happy for you to take the lead but then “help” you for want of a better word all the way through the design process!

As a designer what category of client from those would you prefer? As a designer it’s in your nature to be creative and free and yet we have to adhere to specifications and requirements for the most part. We can’t just wing it. That’s what I guess separates an artist from a designer at some base level. Designers adhere to structure and guidelines whereas an artist can have free reign, the blank canvas is there’s alone to do with what they wish.

However I believe and perhaps it’s stating the obvious, that within the body of every designer dwells the heart of an artist. Designers have creative vision but so many things can often compromise that creative vision, like client specifications or requirements, resources, whatever. Designers constantly walk the line between beauty/aesthetics and actual real world functionality. For instance a client may come to us looking for an e–commerce or online shop. We have put huge effort into its look. It’s modern and slick, the menu’s are animated, it’s a thing of true beauty and I hand over a revision to my client for review to which the response is, “Very nice, so will this mean that more people are going to buy things on it?” Therein lies the catch. For all our yearning for artistic freedom we will forever be bound by functionality. We are the people who like to make aesthetically pleasing things but we are also bound to making them work as well as possible (The bridge, ideally, will look well, but it will also bare the weight of constant traffic flow without issue).


So, to come back to the questions…


How do you define design?

Everything is designed. Take a look at the device you are reading this blog on right now. It was designed at some stage, by an individual or group of individuals. Now take a look around you. Everything you see had some form of design attached to it. Quite often it started as a spark in someone’s mind. So for me, design is the functional and aesthetic realisation of an idea.


What is good design?

Good design is a tightrope, a very delicate balancing act between two great disciplines and to concentrate on or favour one of those disciplines over the other within a project context is quite often a mistake. Make it pretty and functional, not pretty functional.


Who is your ideal client?

As a designer it would actually be a variant of category 1 as I have stated above, the client who will let us get on with our job and is happy for us to take the lead, with one caveat however, they have some idea, even just an inkling of what they might want from a project when we first meet. This is not as we all know an ideal world, so quite often we get clients from all categories. That’s the nature of the beast and of course we are more than happy to take them on too!


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