10.01.2006

4 Things Common to Web 2.0 Designs

In my daily work I have a chance to interact with a lot of graphic designers. Our company has three designers on staff...two for print design and one for web design. Add to that a full arsenal of freelance print, web, and video design specialists along with an occasional art director and I've got a world of creativity around me on a regular basis.

I don't know if I'm simply more aware of good design (and bad design too) now more than ever or if it's just becoming so pervasive (it's probably both or these) but design for everything these days is HUGE! Look at how important design is to so many of the products we have. Every coffee company in the world has adopted the Starbucks style of coffee packaging. It was a design that's come to symbolize high quality coffee and now even the old school coffee companies like Folgers are on board with this...they call it their gourmet coffee. Here's another example...look at Apple computers, they're a combination of both good form (visual design) and function (ease of use).

This trend toward high quality design is inherent in many things web 2.0. Yes, there are certainly some exceptions like MySpace, but for many sites it seems clear there is specific attention given toward and open, intuitive design. That design is often combined with a plain-talking, straight-forward tone. There are four things I'm seeing regularly in many of these sites:

  • An attention to the use of white space - The attention to using white space is most noticeable at Google, but I'm seeing it all the time like at eBible and myChurch. One great thing about a lot of white space is that it leaves little room for doubt as to what is most important on your site...and that's a good thing.
  • Predominant graphics - Many of the good web 2.0 sites focus on showing a few predominant images rather than multiple (and often smaller) images. Compare Flickr to Kodak to get the idea. Again, the focus is on directing people down a very specific road rather than the "shock and awe" approach where you overwhelm them with information or options.
  • Straight-forward information - The straight-forward information an approach that communicates "mean what you say, say what you mean" kind of attitude. It is also a non-corporate approach...which is also fitting for most web 2.0 organizations. I love the way FeedBurner uses this tone on their site.
  • Simplicity - It's all about ease of use and accessibility. If the person can quickly find what they're looking for then the site is sufficiently simple.
The distinctions are becoming so stark that the very design of any organization's website communicates a lot about it. Does your site say you're accessible and personable or rigid and corporate? Does it communicate with clarity or confusion? Does it show that you're clunky or nimble?

With the trend on an every growing importance on good design, it would be worth a little extra consideration toward your next project..particularly if that next project is a website. It will say more about you than you can anticipate...so will that be a good thing or a bad thing?

1 comment:

James Dalman said...

Great thoughts Bill! Too many designers overkill websites and print media by trying to communicate too much...and excellent design is more than throwing out eye-candy. I am glad to see that more people are seeing the value of effective design. Thanks for your work!