Lately I have been thinking a lot about how web design, and web pages are viewed by people outside of the industry. It seems depending on how you are interacting with the industry, your view-point changes. To further complicate the situation, there is a lot of misinformation and conceptions as a result.
Because of my position, the two things that stand out the most is the time and money involved in developing and designing a “quality” website. Because of tools out there such as online web building applications, template sites, many people are given the impression that designing and building a website is not only a cheap comodity, but it can be done in an impossibly short period of time.
What they fail to realize, is that by short changing the budget of their website and making unreasonable deadlines they are effecting the outcome and success of the website itself. Paul Boag recently did a postcast in which he detailed his method of designing information architecture, which involved user studies and post cards. An obviously effective idea, however rarely does a company want to pay for such testing nor wait for it to be done.
They would rather shove the content into what ever title/catagories they see fit. The other major trend/misinformation I often come across is what people use the web for. While a very nice looking design is going to be attractive and memorable, often times companies focus too much on the appearance and too little on the content. Think about the websites you visit, how often do you take notice of the website design vs how much time do you spend searching for the information you want?
I do a lot of work with Real Estate Developers, and while creating the right mood for your site is important to sell to the right demographic; people going to the website are interested in the details of the housing they might be buying. This means floor-plans, amenities, upgrades, etc. The “classic” aproach to these styles of website is stuffing the pages with smiling faces of trendy people, and paragraphs of obvious marketing copy. People don’t read through the copy, they are looking for information, not to be sold. So what through all my rambling am I trying to say?
Unfortunetly, due to the young age of the internet – companies are still trying too hard to figure out how to use web pages. Many seem to just try and wing it based on what others do, or based on other forms of media promotion. However, you wouldn’t try and promote a product on TV the same as you would in a brochure, so why would you for the web? Find a company willing to break the mold, drop the standard copy, and offer the users what they want, and I will show you a website that gets peoples attention instead of turns them away.