A Beautiful Web (Syndicated Content)

JaredRitcheyJaredRitchey Moderator: Design TeamShared Hoster

A beautiful web to behold!
In the land of Utopia, all websites are pretty to look at, they have pinks and they have purples, the navigation is guided navigation, from general to specific, and the information the user desires is personal, informative, fulfilling and no further than two clicks away. So impressive are the web site designs in Utopia that visitors camp out on web sites for hours, digesting volumes of knowledge that is presented in a pleasant candy coated way, where trust and credibility are established instantly. Thus, site visitors, with wallet in hand, all become buyers and the site owner's relax on the beach with his laptop enjoying the gentle and musical tone of cash registers ringing in sales.

And then we wake up!

The purpose of this thread is to articulate a few fundamental points prior to me posting differences in the types and methods of web design as we look at templates vs. custom. So we explore design in a series of threads eagerly awaiting your ideas, your thoughts and your feedback that we build a foundation, for lack of a better term, designed with forethought and planning to educate you for informed decisions for your own projects.

The Fundamentals!
A wise person once said to me that fundamentals never die. An axe is as good today as it was eons ago at its birth. Still just as functional in concept as the wheel which has remained unchanged for the most part any fundamental to truly wear that label will have stood the test of time.

It should almost be academic that "You never get a second chance to make a first impression" yet we see so many web sites that seem to operate contrary to this fundamental belief. In the designers world "Appearance is golden but and content is King" and is one of the fundamental truths a good designer would be wise to keep in mind. As both content and design should complement one another for one without the other, is an incomplete work, its not a website. Yet this wisdom escapes so many, that we must explore or shall I say expose the fault in ignoring this fundamental. One cant chose Template vs Custom without the slightest clue of such wisdom. And so it begins, fundamentals;

That sure is a pretty advertisement! Isn't it?
Like A beautiful brochure without any text. Or a collection of words with the visual appeal of a dictionary. Design without function and content is essentially ineffective and void of value beyond the trivial. In marketing we see this many times as advertising, void of one element or another, could easily fail to achieve the slightest motivation or call to action that they must certainly have been designed to do. We ask a few questions to get things rolling.

1. Why then do we see this failure to bring things together played out so often in nearly every facet of display or presentation type marketing practices?
2. Why then do people continue to kick aside conventional wisdom and focus on one element above all else?
3. What element is missing for the complete package?

A symphony with one conductor?
No symphony I've ever attended had more than one conductor. Each member of the symphony , proficient with his/her instrument, in concert with one another to bring about a heart moving melody with nearly hypnotic results only because they work together.

In design, many times we often joke that the one thing programmers are missing is a sense of design and visual structure. Programmers often say designers could care less if it works, so long as it looks pretty. And content writers take the middle road, often referring to both designers and coders as being ignorant of literary style and good typography practices. Do we need a referee or a ring master? I believe an intelligent conductor will do just fine.

This all to often, frequently over looked facet of good design practice, is the reason we have so many sites that are either good designs and poor content, great content and down right ugly designs or a combination of both.

In their book (Web Redesign | Workflow that works) Kelly Goto and Emily Cotler outline several impressive examples of managing workflow from fundamental stages of design beginning at the foundation all the way to testing and usability ****ysis. A central theme is true of the book as chapter after chapter emphasize to some degree the need to manage each genera or discipline to work in concert with one another.

Fundamental to good design then is a qualified knowledgeable conductor who does not micro manage, but rather trusts, those who are expert at what they do to achieve the objective laid before them. Favoring not, one facet above all others as we move now to the individuals, the team players, the symphony. But lets close on this at the end.

* Naturally, we will expand on this in greater detail in the FamousAgents video tutorials and design threads.

The Lone Ranger!
Picasso once said, "Good artists copy, great artists steal" and in the world of design the notion of an original though is almost arrogance on behalf of the designer as experience will eventually reveal that each design is an inspiration of a previous work in some way. I've designed sites to look like post it boards and yet others to look like a photo album laid out on a table. Each design is unique in that its not a copy of another, but each is certainly the inspiration based on something else.

What does this have to do with our second question?
Well, its a long way of articulating a rigid mindset that all to often is easily offended yet arrogantly, remains under the belief that "I'm right, and you're not". True of coders, content writers and designers to some degree, leaving a project solely in the hands of either would demonstrate a slant in the final product which can easily have the appearance of a good and complete design because it is almost certainly inspired on something before it. At some point the design looks familiar to you because its inspired by something familiar. The functionality of the site looks familiar because in all honesty it was inspired by something familiar. And the articles make sense because they are inspired, fully unique in ideas, but familiar in structure.

Thus we conclude this thread on the introduction of fundamentals to a beautiful and functional web site. Now we move into finer points and touch on the differences between templates vs custom in design.

More to follow as I finish this thread as a work in progress..., Be sure to check out the tutorials as they become available.

~ Jared
signature? whats a signature?


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