There are two major problems inherent in most graphic design for the Internet. One of is ‘too much’ and the other is ‘no connection’. Designers tend to put ‘too much’ emphasis on the graphic elements which can take away from the actual site content, and they tend to have images and graphics which don’t really connect to their website’s purpose or theme. Remember that there is no magic formula for a successful website or even for good graphic design. This article is designed to clarify and answer the questions a potential audience will ask themselves when looking at your graphic design.
There are VERY successful websites that use the “bad” techniques labeled here, but generally and for a large number of websites it will be to their great benefit to at least consider the following critique of graphic design for the Internet.Too many designers put the visual elements above the actual content of site. For most purposes this is a bad design trait. Although it’s repeated over and over again, it can result in frustrated customers and more important a lot lower percentage of people who actually read your site.Although graphics and visual elements are important, the core to any website is its content or information it wishes to extend to its audience. On most websites this comes in the form of text with hyperlinks to other areas of interest. This is slowly changing as more dynamic content becomes more popular online as broad band and high speed internet access change the way we surf.
In the future the main content might come from a mix of audio, video, and slideshow formats, but for now it’s mainly simple text. So your audience has to read those tiny black characters.Overly complex or continued animation, harsh contrasting edges and color combinations can give too much to the graphic elements and make actually reading your pages difficult. If you’re over using the graphics, your audience will read a lot less and that means they’ll take away a lot less of the information.
Some major signs that a graphic designer is of the “too much” camp include:
Little text boxes with scroll bars: Don’t you hate that? Nobody likes text all scrunched up in a little box like that. It’s hard to read and involves lots of scrolling, so why do it?
Overly busy backgrounds: keep it simple or at least a lower contrast so you spare you audiences’ eyes and allow them to focus on the content of your site.
LONG animated intros or animation sequences: Remember attention span, attention span attention span. Online surfers do not have the attention span to wait for a long overly done intro or animation.The second major shortcoming that most graphic design for the Internet is the lack of cohesion or a clear connection of the graphic elements to the purpose of the website. The web is absolutely stuffed with sites that you can’t even tell what they do or are about by their first page. The images, logos, and visual design does not connect to the company’s theme or purpose. Your online audience has a VERY limited attention span. They may have stumbled onto your site on accident. This isn’t TV, on most sites there is no audio directing your visitors as to what they’re seeing. People aren’t necessarily going to read the text of your website just because a girl in a bikini is on it.You also see this concept in sites that are too simple. Simplicity is good, but when taken to the extreme, it can make it very difficult to figure out the sites purpose and extract the basic information that your audience needs, before they commit to reading through large areas of text.
Some major signs that a graphic designer is of the “lack of cohesion” camp include:
Lots of different style graphics: If a website seems to jump time periods, color schemes, and ___ that not a good sign.
LARGE text areas without any graphics: The web is about a mixing of graphic, text, and other elements. Too much text and it becomes difficult to gather meaning quickly.
Logo, tagline, and text on beginning pages do not describe what the website is actually about. The graphic design should key people in both emotionally and intellectually to the purpose of the website.