|Looks Or Function|
What's more important?
Sorry if this is a repeat topic, but I didn't see any threads on this issue.
I recently got into a lengthy discussion with another web designer about what makes a better web designer and web site - one who emphasizes fancy graphics with a lot of bells and whistles, or one who makes a site functional and cross-browser friendly. I realize the nature of some sites are geared towards one or the other, and I know this could be a touchy subject, but I am curious what the general consensus is. Personally, I think functionality should come first.
Simple and clean look with great functionality and simple, straight HTML code the spiders love has worked wonders for me. I never have more than 2 graphics on a page and one is my logo that is consistent throughout the site. People go to the Internet for info mostly, not fancy sites that slow down their surfing experience and don't give them what they need quickly. Great question that I think many webmasters miss the mark on.
Yes, I think a lot of web masters miss the point too which is why I submitted the question. But don't think I'm knocking great designs and graphics work - it's all relative to the purpose of the site. However, a site which I was recently directed to is what I believe is a nice design but poor execution: www.gripstuff.com. It was designed to be viewed in IE. If you check the site, it sets itself to display full screen hiding all menu, status and tools bars. It also makes it impossible to use the F11 key to restore the view. Try to find the link which allows you to minimize it. If a novice were to visit the site, I am sure they would freak out trying to figure how to get things back to normal. And this isn't the first site I've seen do this. I think many designers over look the fact that most people who surf the web still have 12:00 flashing on their VCR's. :0
Gee! This gripstuff design is horrible! I mean it takes over the user interface from the get go.
I tend to do that to but only in very special circumstances and not right away. Plus I tend to provide a more obvious restoration of control route.
Some sites, take photography sites are inherently more image heavy than other web sites. But I've seen photography web masters go over board and make their sites too slow and completely useless search engines wise.
You have to find a ballance and it depends on your subject matter.
You took away the back button with no way to get it back unless you spotted the itty bitty ie logo and read through the "I design browsers better than microsoft" copy.
Taking away the back button is like taking away the brake pedal in a car, you just don't feel that comfortable with the experience. You may want to reverse the option, put the itty bitty logo in a full browser and offer the option to turn off the bars.
Clicking on the home page link just throws you into a loop.
Like it or not the back button is the most heavily used feature in the browser; take it away and folks don't like it one bit.
Andrey & John,
Glad to see I'm not the only with negative thoughts about GripStuff. As for photography sites and such, I think people tend to expect them to be a little slow and graphic heavy. I've been designing webs for about three years, but my true profession, if you will, is as a scenic designer for theater and television. My personal web site (not the one mentioned in my profile) is a portfolio of my work over the past 20 years and most visitors expect that. Even so, my works are displayed one image at a time in a side show format. While the images are note necessarily huge file sizes, I know most people connect using a modem, not DSL or Broadband. I try to stick to a rule of thumb of not over 30-40 seconds on a 56K modem.
Maybe it's just me, but lately it seems that many sites the designers are trying to impress other designers and are getting away from the primary purpose of the Internet: to disseminate information. Then there are sites where if you don't take their "cookies" you can't visit it (I'm not referring to cookies for login information and such). What good is that? And lest we forget those sites with a dozen banner ads per page that include not only the graphic of the ad, but that little Web Beacon clear gif which further slows down the page. Drives me nuts (I have a program which detects them www.bugnosis.org if you're interested).
JamesR has got it right. A good web design does both. A highly skilled web designer can do both. There are very few examples of each.
Yeah, give the customer what he wants, but as the "experts" in the business, shouldn't we take responsibility for telling the customer what is and isn't practical?
We should absolutely tell them what is and isn't practical, but that doesn't mean they'll listen. However, at least if we're open with them about the limitations of the design they insist on, we can always say "I told you so" later...
Chiyo and JamesR - I couldn't agree with you more. This is similar in the trend I've seen in the entertainment industry - everyone trying to out do the other. More special effects - more whistles - more bells - more everything. There's an adage in theater "the play's the thing" which I often cite to directors and producers when they give me that "we want it just like it was done on Broadway." I use that philosophy in web design - "The content's the thing." There are a lot of great web designers who combine both looks and function but who are over shadowed by the bells and whistles sites. Should the site designers be blamed or the site owners. Yeah, give the customer what he wants, but as the "experts" in the business, shouldn't we take responsibility for telling the customer what is and isn't practical?
I think Web design must be targeted at some audience. A Web site should be consistent with the marketing campaign. My girl friend is an free lance art director for Web and print, her ability to adapt to the marketing objectives makes Web agencies hire her.
There is one thing in design that makes a better site, when it hits the bull's eye.
IMO any site over-influenced by one particular"craft" will suffer; and interestingly nobody has included SEO in the equation. Usually SEO is ignored by both design and usability, and tacked on at the end as an afterthought.By that stage it has mostly to try to overcome both design and usability "problems".