What if I were to tell you that your website’s design didn’t matter in the slightest? You might call me crazy.
The reality is, though, that the web is changing at such a quick rate that your overall design may not matter. Has content surpassed design far enough? Or is it the other way around?
Whether you think design matters or not, there are some pretty large pros and cons to it. Designs can do a lot of harm to one’s success, while helping another’s at the same time.
The Pros & Cons of a Great Design
Be Unique and Stand Out
Earlier this month, a great blogger by the name of Marc Ensign wrote an article entitled Stand Out Like a Gashed Forehead.
The article details a misfortune that occurred to his forehead just before his scheduled event at the BlogWorld Expo – he’d surely look like an idiot.
Something magical happened instead – he talked to far more people with a gashed forehead then he had the day before.
The web is a lot like Marc’s face (no sarcasm intended, Marc) – people like to see things that are different and unique.
With hundreds of thousands of websites registered on a daily basis, it’s getting pretty hard to differentiate yourself from everybody else. The way I see it, there’s only two ways to separate yourself from the competition:
- Unique content
- A unique design
People are tired of seeing the same design on every single website with the same crappy design. There needs to be new things added.
If you are really serious about your design, you can even purchase frameworks and build onto them. Some great frameworks include:
With a great framework, you can create a killer design with some CSS, PHP, and HTML experience (or a few visits to the support forum).
The Ten Second Rule
Every web developer is taught a single uniform lesson above every other – the ten second rule.
The principal behind the ten second rule is simple – the average first-time visitor will only view your website for ten seconds.
Think about all of those times you were looking for an answer on Google. You hit the first page result. If you can’t find what you’re looking for quickly, you probably go back and look for another website.
Despite how great you think your website is, you are subjected to the same ten second rule, just as is every other website. Your goal, then, is to convert these first-time visitors into long-term readers.
The downside to creating a website design is the risk of loosing readers to the ten second rule. A few of the key things that can impact the conversion are:
- Font size
- Font weight
- Emphasis on content
Clearly, creating a website design that is optimized for the ten second rule can be quiet difficult – there are hundreds of aspects that you must test.
It is best to make small changes one by one and record results from each test – you can then see what works best with your readers.
It Takes a Long Time
Whether you want to admit it or not, creating an entire theme from scratch isn’t quick, and will probably rob you of a great deal of time.
The current design that WebsiteBegin wears is nearly two years old at this point – it needed some updating.
For that very reason, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks on a redesign as illustrated by a tweet I sent out last week:
I’ve been spending the last two weeks or so on a massive new design. Sorry for the lack of presence
— Joe Boyle (@joeb3219) June 22, 2012
You are, in essence, given a choice between cutting a lot of time out of your schedule, hiring a major designer (big bucks), or sitting where you are.
With a stable knowledge of CSS and HTML, creating a powerful design isn’t too difficult, and can be pretty rewarding once you get the hang of it.
Does Design Matter?
The question still lingers – does design really matter? In short, the answer is yes.
A website’s design is generally thought to reflect the quality of the content of the website – if the design is terrible, the user will generally assume the content is terrible.
While creating a great design can be difficult, it is important to go into the design process as informed as possible. Otherwise, you will make mistakes that will cost you long-term readers.
For help with creating a great design, I recommend using the following resources: