Design optimizing for visuals or for content?

A post by ptvGuy about the Illusion of Accelerated dial, and some conversation from last night’s Refresh Detroit meeting had me thinking about how clients (and some graphic designers) view the web vs how the web really is.

I think it is no secret that many people almost consider a “web design” like a brochure or flyer. That is to say flat, pixel perfect, static. This obviously, is not the case. The web is stretchable, scalable, infinite, multidimensional, interactive, etc, etc

Those especially who are just now looking to get a site designed often worry about the ASTHETICS instead of the function. Now this is somewhat difficult for me to admit as I come from a whole life of art background and consider myself more of an “artist” than a “coder” – A site that is usable and has good content will go a lot farther than the best looking site on the Internet.

Next time a client is talking about how they want their site to be flashy with lots of glitz and glamour, ask them to describe yahoo’s design, how about google’s? Amazon?

While none of those sites are POORLY designed – they are simple and clean, and focus on function, content, and usability rather than trying to “communicate” a feel with design. Even as a designer, I rarely pay attention to the design of a page unless I have that goal in mind (ie looking through a designers portfolio, css galleries, etc).

Everyone wants their website to look great to them – and often that means on their computer, their monitor, etc. Very few focus on their website working great however – after all they know how to use it. While we should no doubt refrain from throwing out all visual design consideration, as a good design does fall into usability – people simply need to focus on it less and shift some of that focus to the other hidden yet equally important aspects of web design.