General Question

klaas4's avatar

What makes a great design great?

Asked by klaas4 (2176points) March 1st, 2008

I’d love to make a great webdesign, do you have any tips?


By the way: I don’t know if this has been asked already, I couldn’t find it.

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8 Answers

PupnTaco's avatar


ishotthesheriff's avatar

for me, it’s simplicity.

it’s pushing the limits of simple. . .
(trust me, i have more skill in design than what meets the eye on that site haha)
sometimes i just want a straightforward site and for my personal one (which i just put up, so no stoning) that’s exactly what i did.

kevbo's avatar

From the Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Wiliams

Contrast (if two items are not exactly the same, make them different… really different)
Repetiton (repeat some aspect of the design throughout the entire space)
Alignment (nothing should be placed arbitrarily… every item should have a visual connection with something else on the page)
Proximity (group related items together)

The above can be easily remembered with a short acronym.

Checklist (from The Non-Designer’s Web Book)

* Background does not interrupt the text
* Big enough to read, but not too big
* The heirarchy of info is perfectly clear
* Columns of the text are narrower than in a book, to make it easier to read on screen

* Navigation buttons and bars are easy to understand and use
* Frames, if used, are not obtrusive
* A large site has an index or site map
* The navigation bar or buttions give the visitor a clue as to where they are, what page of the site they are on

* Link colors coordinate with page colors (think contrast)
* Links are underlined so they are instantly clear to the visitor

* Buttons are not big and dorky
* Every graphic has an alt label
* Every graphic linnk has a matching text link
* Graphics and backgrounds use browser safe colors
* Animated graphics turn off by themselves

General Design
* Pages download quickly
* First page and home page fit into a 640×460 space
* All other pages have the most important stuff in 640×480
* Good use of graphic elements (photos, subheads, pull quotes) to break up large areas of text
* Every web page on the site looks like it belongs to the same site; there are repetetive elements that carry throughout the pages

My edition of the book was printed in 2000, so some of the info (e.g. 640×480) may be dated.

rawpixels's avatar

I believe in minimalism. Here’s my portfolio site:

mirza's avatar

kevbo brings up some great suggestions. Just to add onto his list—typography is a huge factor in today’s web design, minimal use of flash, cross-browser support. You should definielty consider checking out this article about the Principles of Good Web Design For me, the biggest factor behind a great design is your creativity itself. Sometimes you just have to break some of the design rules, just go ahead and be daring. It can come off a mess and or it could be one of a kind. If you are new to web design, you should check out what others consider as great design. Smashing Magazine does an awesome job picking out some of the best designed sites.

@rawpixels : i don’t get how your site is minimalistic

glial's avatar

Jared Spool spoke at Web Design World last year. Great speaker with a great organization.

Check out

Vincentt's avatar

I’ve studied this subject quite a lot, and the only answer I can come up with it: either you “got it”, or you don’t. I don’t.

People that have it just need to learn to use the right tools. I learned to use the right tools, I also read up on a lot of articles that pointed out the elements of great design, and though my designs improved, they still sucked.

Basically, the most important “trick” I learned was to first design your site in an image editor (I use the Gimp, but if you feel like spending a lot of money, Photoshop’s interface is probably easier to learn. They both work for webdesign though.), then cut it up in pieces and code the HTML behind it. It really doesn’t work if you just lay down the elements of your page in HTML and start trying to apply some styles to it.

segdeha's avatar

A great design is one that meets its design goals. That goal may be making the most usable interface possible, one that allows a user to effortlessly navigate from—for example—browsing a product catalog through plonking down her hard earned cash. Alternately, that goal might be to create an online “experience” where the user feels a bit disoriented while being overwhelmed by your artistic vision.

Generally, on the web, great designs are as simple as possible, but no simpler. Fast downloads are essential. Part of that stems from how the site is built (following web standards, optimising images, etc.), but part of it also depends on the design. A smart designer can make a page look heavier than it is (in kilobytes, that is) by reuse of graphic elements in different contexts.

Anyway, the point is, “great design” is really, really hard to describe or quantify and getting to the point where you can create it can take years of study and practice. Like any creative endeavour, it’s important to keep at it, follow your vision and not get discouraged.

Good luck!

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