The first point about good design, whether it is architecture, fashion, products or websites is that the design should enhance the functionality of the item. Any item has a purpose and good design will make it easier for people to access and use the item for this intended purpose. The design should aim to grab the attention of the exact people that the item is intended for and invite them to engage, enter, try out and get involved.
In terms of web design, the finished project should be mobile responsive, quick to load and use icons and menus that help visitors to efficiently and instinctively navigate your content. To make it a valuable tool for your business, it also needs to engage the visitor and encourage them to take the steps towards becoming a customer. Good design can improve your conversion rates.
Good design has to stand out from the crowd. It needn’t be radical, but it does need to be original in order to draw attention. A building shortlisted by RIBA has to demonstrate a contribution to the evolution of architecture, possibly in the materials used, technology, process, approach or commitment to a particular value.
Whilst research into the websites of your online competitors can be an informative and useful task, the idea is to recognise the areas where your business can excel. You should never plan your web design to look like another site, because this approach means it will never stand out and inspire. Consider what makes your business unique; it may be your ethos or values rather than your products or services. By promoting this USP in your web design, you have the potential to inspire.
Design does include items that are in fashion for a short period of time. They serve a purpose, fit a passing fad and then disappear from sight. Good design however can stand the test of time. It has the power to not only deliver in current times, but also retain a presence in the future. The RIBA buildings may last a century or more and they need to still serve a purpose and be admired throughout this lifespan.
The rate of change with online marketing is rapid and the changes that may occur in the future are a complete unknown, so website design is likely to have a shorter duration. However, it still needs to be built in a way that makes it adaptable to change. Platforms such as WordPress include Content Management Systems (CMS) which make it straight forward to make updates, add content and introduce new features. This can be valuable in the long term prospect of your web pages.
Within architecture, the building needs to be personalised in some way for its users. Last year’s winner, The Everyman Theatre in Liverpool incorporated bricks and other materials from the old theatre that it was replacing. It also included images of Liverpool’s residents and other community focused features. It was personalised to help the local people to feel ownership of it, so they felt encouraged to venture inside, to engage.
A good web design is created for a specific target audience and contains features, content and formats that create a natural connection with the target group. It is personalised to their requirements, so it offers just what they have been looking for. They will then be encouraged to return to the pages time and time again.