My friend asked me today, as apart of one his assignments for his Computer-tech class, what would I say if I had to pick the five most important aspects of web design. Well, I wasn’t sure at first, but after some thought, I came up with the five things I would say are the core aspects of web design. (Let’s note that neither my friend nor I are web designers in any way. I know enough to get around but I have no design experience; I’d love some though.)
The list isn’t in order since there is no way I could say one is above the rest.
- The use of White space – White space refers to the place where no content is, like text or focus-images. Just plain nothing interesting space. That isn’t to say something interesting can’t be there, but it is extra and not apart of the content of the page. Effective use of the white space on a page can let you relax or if it’s poor, it can distract you. For an example of white space, I think google and vimeo come to mind. Few visual elements.
- Typography – The way your words look on a web page are so important that many people don’t bother about it. While it is excusable because there is no consistency of fonts online; it should be noted that most computers have sharp and soft fonts. You should Arial for big display-words, Courier New for blog posts and certain fonts for certain things. Another aspect of typography is the size. You see big things first. For instance, if you have just a sentence on page, you should make it big, if you have four blog posts you should make them small. Twitter is the first things that comes to mind when I think typography. If you couldn’t easily read tweets, would you?
- Content Width – I was going to write content position but then I thought, no, the width is more fundamental. Generally, websites today are designed to look the same when the browser is re-sized. Therefore, the width of your content area, such as 90%, 800px, 1024px, or whatever size, is important because if you can mess up the content when the window size changes, that’s a problem. Additionally, there is a certain line length people can tolerate reading. Would be easier to read if my blog was the entire width of the window? It’s generally easier to read in a constrained area. As a coder and a lover of YUICSS, I suggest that yahoo is a prime example of various content widths. This is also related to white space because if you have a low content width you get more white space, generally.
- Navigation Place – While this would go hand in hand with Content Width actually, I wanted to suggest this even in view of the former reason and also in spite of it being partially functionality-oriented. Navigation is functionality but it is also design. Look at the yahoo sites, the navigation on the main page is along the side and top. Look at Google’s main page. You see links across the top. Look at these examples for ideas of how design in navigation is critical.
- Title – While it might seem like the title isn’t design dependent, it is. If you look at the title of the current window you’ll see something like “5 Core Web Design Aspects |Ryan Rampersad’s blog,” right? I designed the title to be in the order it is. While this could fall into functionality, you see the design of the title as in the post first and then the site title. You need this because you want your users to know exactly what they are looking at. When you minimize a window, what would you like to see? “Ryan Rampersad’s blog” or the current title? You’ll probably know you have my blog open but you might forget which post you’re reading exactly. The title is important.
These are my honorable mentions. I don’t think can you constrain this type of list to just five.
- Honorable Mention – Contrast – I thought of an important design aspect that I love dearly. Contrast. Why do you see sites with black backgrounds and bright text? Simply for contrast. It has a key role in all designs because without contrast, you couldn’t actually see anything; it’s hard to read yellow font on a white background. My blog is example of contrast, blue background, white foreground, black text.
- Honorable Mention – Imagery – This could go along with contrast actually but I wanted to give a mention to gradients, fancy borders, elegant logos and also rounded-corners that we all sought for so many months.
That’s what I think of design. Keep in mind that I don’t see design as in borders and colors, I see the code behind them. You show me Apple’s set and I wonder how they centered a click-able button on top of an image. Nevertheless, I love design.