If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then how can you, as a web designer, create a product that is perceived as beautiful to your target audience? In a recent lesson in my web design course, I read an article that discussed six product design principles. These principles help streamline the design process to create end-products that are more simple, efficient, and pleasing to the user.
After reading the article, I believe there are five key elements that can make me a better product creator of websites:
- User-Friendliness – Elon Musk said, “Any product that needs a manual to work is broken”. There are always little sayings that basically all say the same thing, “Keep It Simple, Stupid” or “Less Is More”. If a website becomes too complicated to serve a simple function, whether that function is to elicit a phone call, or prompt a user to make a purchase, these bottom line functions should be so obvious and simple to understand the intention of the website.
- Multi-Purpose – The Smashing magazine article spoke about the “lagniappe”, which is French for “an extra bonus or gift”. A good website gives the visitor a reason to keep returning. For example, a roofing company may showcase their products on the website, but an added bonus for a visitor could be a page for homeowner tips and “hacks” for home improvement, or a page of resources for other reputable contracting companies in the area.
- Form and Color – Colors, typography, and fonts all create an experience that the designers intend the user to feel. I believe that the psychology of the design choices made on a website is very important in the success of a website. If the font comes off as too strong when the designer is trying to portray elegance, then the website would not have the desired effect. The same could be said about poorly chosen colors. Would a website for an ice cream shop work as well with bright primary colors as it would with soft pastel colors? It all depends on the image the designer is trying to project.
- Approachable Innovation – Remember when QR codes were all the rage? It was trendy for a moment and then faded out fast. My issue with a QR code was that it required the user to have a QR reader app already downloaded on their phone in order to access the information behind the QR code. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just give the user a website address to begin with? A unique or innovative website sticks in a person’s mind longer than a cookie-cutter design, but it shouldn’t sacrifice a good user experience.
- Simplicity – Saving the best for last, although this goes hand and hand with user-friendliness. A simplistic design immediately answers the question that the visitor had which lead them to the website in the first place. A good product does what it was intended to do without complicated bells and whistles. Features should enhance the product but not take away from it. The same thing applies to website design.