The Value of Design

By Laura Duggan     Add your comments

Some interesting points to consider when designing your website.

  • What makes a good web design?
  • How should one decide how much to spend on design
  • What kinds of projects justify higher design costs?
  • Are the refinements that designers cherish worth the cost?
  • For designers, how do you price your work, and communicate its value to clients?

These questions and more were discussed at a recent meeting of the North Bay Internet Society. Thanks to the notetaker, Phil Hersh, we gleaned some great tips.

Josh Woodlander, (Rasberry Media) a great designer who designed this site, Spartia.com, offered these insightful comments:

What is Design

Design is a cultural transmission through the use of symbols. Visitors will make a judgment about you in under 6 seconds. What subliminal message are you conveying?

“What is a good design” is like asking what is a good legal defense? A good legal defense is highly tailored to the needs and circumstances of the case and so is a good design.

What is the metric of a good design?

A working metric Josh has worked out as a designer is that if 9 out of 10 people in the company are happy with the design, it is a good one.

In a design one has to consider many factors:

  • Balancing how universal the design is versus how targeted it is.
  • Figuring out who is the audience.
  • Aesthetic versus business goals.
  • Words versus images.
  • How it looks in the browser
  • The level of usability – what is usability?

Some of the sites and tools to help in this process include:

browsershots – to see how the site looks on many platforms and in many browsers

utest.com and usertesting.com – usability testing sites which provide testing services.

Regarding investing in the User Interface, if you don’t know your target audience should you invest heavily in the UI? How can you know what the UI should be if you don’t know who you are trying to reach? Josh refers to the minimum UI as that which is just past the threshold of embarrassment. Perhaps the answer is to go for that level and as your audience and target evolve, then refine the UI.

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