What is a good web designer?

Posted 12 years, 6 months ago in Ideology

I think it's important we discuss exactly what a "good" web designer does. It feels like as technology is in the experimenting cycle that we as an industry sometimes forget what our job is. That job is simple: Our job as web designers is to communicate information to people. That may sound simple enough but it's easy to get lost in trying to work with the latest technology or find the most semantically relevant class names. The only real certainty in current/future web technology is that it's made to be used by people. This means a successful design must connect with them emotionally and intellectually in an appropriate manner. What I mean by "appropriate" is that the message reflects the value of the content. If you're making a site for a steel-stamping manufacturing company you don't need to make it an emotionally rich experience. You should focus on presenting the necessary information for other companies who are interested in collaboration while putting a relatable identity to the manufacturing company through which the other companies my identify with.

I see no reason in pledging allegiance to any particular technology. I meet a ton of developers that just love to bash WordPress. Sure, the code that runs it is a bit of a mess. But bringing a website building framework that requires less skill/intimate coding system knowledge is a good thing in the right situations. I've been able to make some decent money setting up clients with that and not having to develop a backend or train them because there's so many resources on how to use it. While I definitely love working with Python and Django which is what this site is made with I definitely don't see the value in only working with Python and Django. Don't get me wrong having a main specialty is a great thing, and especially important in a career. However, if you don't branch out you will be left behind as the technology we use in this field is always moving.

Lastly, and this is a problem I see most designers struggle with is taste. It's good to have a sense of "taste" and "style" but those shouldn't become excuses for not trying new techniques, style, and technology. I've met many designers who apply the minimalism style to every project they get no matter what the content, does it look nice yes? Does it express the value of the content? No. Once it's no longer cool to be minimal their designs will seem dated. Designing to the feel of your content should aid in creating more timeless pieces that last longer than the culture's taste in any specific style.

The take away from this is to not forget your designing for people. We're not being commissioned to create art, we're hired to build an elevator. We're building a system to move people from one place to another, whether its for more information on a topic, solving a problem with a web app, or selling a product. The effectiveness of the design is not how well it's coded, how semantic your CSS classes are, or how cutting-edge the technology behind your site is but how people feel while using your website to help them get where they want to go. Anyway, Just something to keep in mind for the future...