Design – Do You Really Need It?

Design – Do You Really Need It?

Many teams start their projects thinking mostly about the vision of the website. To a certain extent, this is good for small company websites, which have 5 or 6 pages with information and nothing more. When you are developing a mass online project, it is more important to bear in mind what the consumers are expected to do on your website, and using this information you should choose what to focus on in terms of the website’s design.

In most cases, the websites are not created to impress the consumers with their designs, twirls, logo, effective drop-down menus… The consumer has entered your website with a clear purpose – to get concrete information, do some work, or buy a product. The designers will probably argue but it is a fact – the design is not the major thing that makes one internet project better than another. There are thousands of examples proving that the most important thing is the information, service, or product offered on the website and the way you show them to consumers. Here are several clear examples:

Google.com

While before the Google era all other search engines, such as yahoo.com, altavista.com, exite.com, lycos.com, used to stake on huge portal pages, overburdened with news, stock exchange information, currency exchange rates, postal services, high-life articles, diets, and a small search line hidden among the above-mentioned extras, the enthusiasts from Google chose something much simpler – a white/blank page with one search line and a SEARCH button. For a change, they also put an I’m Feeling Lucky button. While the rest of the websites had whole teams of designers, the Google logo (which is 99% of the design) was done swiftly without the help of a designer. The result is clear – Google has the biggest market share among search engines in the world.  In Bulgaria, for instance, according to NetMarketShare’s data, it has more than 97.45% market share against 0.98% for yahoo.com. And the question is – have you ever missed the design of Google?

Facebook.com

Design!? They have not figured out what this term means yet. The website is so simple that the only thing we can call a design is the 20 icons, the blue line, and the insane home page, which has one graphic depicting something like a social network. Everything else is simply some positioned text. Recently, due to the competition with Google, Facebook’s team started making tens of changes, which mostly concerned the way the information was shown, the positioning of concrete links, and functionalities. We may say that Facebook’s design has not been changed since its start unless we count the shift in some insignificant elements done every month. Currently, the website has more than 800 million users. More than 50% of them enter their profiles every single day.

So I gave you two examples but I can continue forever, turning this page into a catalog of the successful websites “without design”. Of course, the designers may counter by saying that the positioning of different blocks of information is still some kind of design and they will be right. The above-mentioned examples do not aim at making you think that if you create your website with white background, with black text and blue links, success will be guaranteed. It is important to understand that these websites succeeded not because they were original with the presence or lack of designer’s vision but because of what they offered to consumers.

Instead of focusing on whether a button will be with sharp or rounded angles, whether there will be a shadow or shading colors, whether it should be 10 pixels bigger or smaller, they focused on offering consumers the best possible service, while the button was left the way it was – simple but working.

There are also many examples of unsuccessful projects, which develop prettier and prettier designs. However, neither the traffic nor the revenues are increasing. The reason is clear – the new and beautiful design is not some panacea that can heal an internet product of poor quality. Consumers will not say: “Hey, this awful website with low-quality products and bad service has a new design! I will start using it right now and I will read its pointless articles every day because I love the color of the menu.”

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