February 11th, 2009


On web design

I look at a lot of websites in my day job. As some of you know, I'm officially a 'web developer', but in that term comes several large fields of work that have nothing to do with coding websites. Things like design, information architecture, content, planning, management and a whole host of other things.

So, I look at a lot of websites, from the fantastic to the ... not so fantastic.

And one of the things I've noticed is that many, many websites do the content area very, very badly. By 'content area', I mean the bit where the extended text lives, not the bits at the top or the background.

Lots of sites have cool, artistic header sections, with great, high-impact art. And then it all falls into chaos when you get to the actual content.

This is a shame, because, really, the content area is the most important part of the website.

After all, the content is what you're trying to get across. That's even more true for writers' websites than it is for many others.

Yes, a good instant impression is important if you want visitors to have their interests piqued. But it's not enough by itself.

Getting the content area right marks the difference between a great web designer and an artist.

Too many people and companies who call themselves web designers aren't. They are artists instead. (Not that you can't be both, but being an artist is not enough.)

To be a great web designer, you need to understand how people use websites. You need to understand how the eye travels on a screen. You need to understand typography. You need to understand balance and blind areas and proximity and white space and all the rest of it. And too many 'web designers' don't.

They get away with it, of course, because it's very easy for us all to be blinded by the initial impact of a stunning graphical header or background and not notice the mess that is the content area.

Some web designers suggest that you design the content area first, that you forget about all the shiny pretties until that's done and build outwards.

The truth is that the content area is hard. It's much harder to pull off than the flashy art of the background or the header. But if it's not right, all the rest of the site is a waste of time.
Why would this happen??? (Robin Hood)

Up next...

For the last few months, I've had this awesome (in my opinion) premise for a YA science fiction novel knocking around in my head, but I can't for the life of me think how the book would end.

No, I'm not going to tell you the premise, because it'll just sound stupid written down.

So, should I:

Just write it and worry about the ending when I get there, as per normal
Stop being so lazy and figure it out
Write something else. Maybe with wizards