Monday, July 03, 2006

Graphic Design VS Website Design - Content over Appearance


Here is my third post along these lines - again, just sharing the observations I've made in my short time as a (fledgling) web designer. You can check out my two previous posts on this subject here and here.

With design for print media, the emphasis usually seems to be on the look of the piece. Now while that seems to be a "duh!" kind of statement, what I mean is that the quality of the content (the value of the information being conveyed) is usually secondary to HOW that information is being framed. Have you ever read a brochure or a newspaper ad and found that you could reduce the useful information in it down to one or two sentences? That's what I'm talking about.
And there is good reason for this. In most cases, print media has to be put in front of the viewer. Most people don't drive down the road for the sake of looking at the billboards. Most people don't buy their newspapers or magazines for the sake of reading the ads inside. For the currency of your attention there is a great deal of competition - so with most print design the emphasis HAS to be on appearance, just to get you interested long enough to convey the real content.

Web design is different in a fundamental way. When we browse the web, or search for content, we are involved in an active experience where we are exercising control. We are making choices and (usually) looking for something relatively specific - information. Whether that information is in the form of text, numeric data, photographs, sound, or video - we usually have a target in mind. It is because of that active aspect to the experience, the searching that we do, that the quality of the content is far more important than how it is framed. I'll give you a small, real-world example (if not a goofy one). If I'm looking for a killer recipe for chili, I'm focused on the quality of the content (meaning how complex the recipe is, how readily the ingredients can be acquired, and how good I imagine the final result will taste). While I'm looking, truth be told I don't care whether the websites I come across have cool looking graphics, eye-catching layouts, or even a single picture of chili. In this case, the site I got my recipe from (for some awesome red and black bean chili) was completely text only - not a single image of any kind. Such is the case for a great majority of the searching that is done online. Graphics have their place, and they do help to convey a sense of worth, a pleasing aesthetic, or even just some simple fun. But where the web is concerned - content is king.

It is understanding this huge difference between print and website design that helps LogicMaze to shine as website designers and search engine optimization (SEO) specialists. It is not as simple as taking a graphic designer and plopping them down in front of a WYSIWYG web development application (oh, how I wish it was that easy). You have to understand that the very nature of your media is different - so your emphasis must correspond to that nature. LogicMaze understands website design - and how best to put it to work for you.

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