Obviously there is no right and wrong way of designing a website, but we believe that there are ways that are better than others, especially if you have a specific purpose in mind. There is almost always a pay off between functionality and fashion, but it is possible to satisfy both with a design that is perfectly functional and pleasing on the eye. That’s our dream. It may not be as world changing as Martin Luther King Junior’s dream, but we feel it is important. Remember, your website is your shop window. If people think it is drab and boring they’ll walk on by to the next store. Or if people think it looks great but can’t see or use the door then they too will walk on by. Function and fashion combined is how we do things here at MGA Web Tech.
The user is key. You know that, we know that. If the user doesn’t like the site, doesn’t like the content, then what is the point? Web design is not done for awards, though there are awards given out. The Webby Awards (www.webbyawards.com) are one of the more respected award bodies, giving awards out for many things online, from the best blog to the best charitable site, from the best movie website to the best web service.
Hidden Heroes (www.hidden-heroes.net) got an award for the best structure and was nominated for the best use of animation award. This site celebrates 44 of the most useful items that we take for granted, from adhesive tape to zips. It’s a fascinating site with a lot of fairly useless information and it is a lovely design.
While getting an award would be wonderful, the primary functions of your website falls into two categories; informational or commercial. These are by no means mutually exclusive and many sites will want to fulfil both functions. Wikipedia (www.Wikipedia.com) is information but no commerce, eBay (www.eBay.com) is commerce but no information, while there are many sites that are heavier on one side than the other. Amazon (www.Amazon.co.uk) is primarily commercial, but through user reviews and listed information you might head there with no intention to buy. Meanwhile MLB’s official site (www.MLB.com) will let you fill your boots with information on all the latest news from the baseball world, but you can also buy official merchandising or tickets.
A good web designer will ensure that they know the primary goal of your website and make sure that the user can get what they want as soon as possible. If you are selling stuff then let the user see the goods and purchase it. If you are providing them with information then let the user get that straight away. You don’t want to scare your potential customers away by demanding that they agree to terms and conditions; you don’t want to demand their personal information; you just want to give the user what they want.
You want to give them what they want as soon as possible, but you don’t want to bewilder them with clutter. To show an example of how not to do it, HavenWorks.com was one of the more famous sites that didn’t think a user should have to click very often in order to find the information that they sought. A good idea in principle but taken to extremes by this site. Havenworks.com is closed now but can be seen in all its glory here: http://tinyurl.com/7xg7rjg. Forget navigation and structure; just stick it all on the home page! At MGA Web Tech, we believe that, yes we do want to use the space available, but not like that. Compare it to Hidden Heroes, and it doesn’t take much of a mind to realise which would win awards.