If you use the internet for work, leisure or both, you’ll probably already know that there is a huge variation in the quality of sites on the web, with some offering a perfectly tailored user experience and others resembling something a toddler might come up with in a rush.
Knowing what is good and what is bad in the world of web design isn’t just interesting, it’s crucial if you want to ensure that your own website doesn’t fall into the same old design traps.
So if you’re trying to work out the good from the bad and the downright ugly, here’s what to look out for.
What is good web design?
As every website is built to cater to a different target audience and to achieve different results, it’s impossible to define a standard for good web design.
However, broadly speaking you know you’re on a well-designed site when you can use it easily and intuitively, with everything loading quickly, working well and providing you with the information that you were looking for.
In fact, good web design, like most well made things, often goes unnoticed, as visitors can navigate and use the site instinctively, without having to think too much about it.
What is bad web design?
Bad web design on the other hand is all too easy to spot, with poorly designed layouts, clashing colours and navigational systems that you’d need an atlas to work your way through.
It could be argued that design is judged by the be-holder and that is technically true, although we would have to say that a website should be both beautiful and functional, websites such as Vogue accomplish this extremely well.
Where most websites were once designed by professionals, the advent of WordPress is now allowing more and more amateurs to try their hand at web design, causing a host of good, bad and ugly sites to hit the web.
Though many of the templates available to WordPress users are fairly professional looking, their implementation is often poorly executed in the hands of enthusiastic amateurs.
Info graphics and visual media
One of the biggest trends of 2013 has been the rise of the info graphic, pushing visual media back to the forefront of web design.
A well-designed info graphic can look great on a website, giving a landing page instant impact and providing the visitor with easy access to the information that they’re looking for.
However, the fast pace at which the popularity of info graphics has grown has lead to some fairly awful examples being placed on websites, confusing visitors and making the page look unprofessional.
Responsive web design
2013 has seen a sharp increase in the use of responsive web design, and this has largely benefitted good design as even the most basic responsive sites require professional influence to get up and running.
The main benefit of responsively designed sites is that they can be viewed on a range of screen sizes, meaning that whether you’re using your phone, tablet computer or desk top to surf the web, your user experience should be unaffected.
The traits of a well-designed responsive site is that as the screen size decreases and the amount of content displayed diminishes the user experience is maintained and a user on a mobile phone will have just as an enriching experience as someone on a desktop computer.
Another prominent feature of contemporary web design is parallax scrolling.
This is when 2D pictures or graphics are placed on top of each other on a page to form layers, these layers then move at different rates as the user scrolls down the page creating a multi-faceted visual experience.
This affect can be incredibly effective, but it’s important to watch out for over elaborate designs and too much information can make a website look hectic and cluttered.
As the web evolves and new platforms, languages and innovations are created to take advantage of its capabilities, there’s no doubt that web design will progress to a whole new level, with the number of bad and ugly sites slowly falling away and making space to new, well-designed and well executed websites.