The web is an inherently multi-disciplinary medium, and is used most effectively when all aspects are brought together in harmony. This is why the overall design of a website is more about orchestrating different levels of design than in more traditional media.
- Information architecture is where any good site should begin, once the initial concepts and goals are outlined. The structuring of the information and functions being presented in a website underpins the user experience, and should combine logic and intuition to provide an easy, engaging experience. Many problems encountered late in a site’s development are avoided through thoughtful design of the underlying architecture.
- Graphic design is what most people think of when ‘design’ is mentioned. And while it is merely part of a whole in the web, it’s an important part. People are strongly visually orientated, and their response to the site’s aesthetics and visual structure plays a powerful part in how they interact with it as a whole. Of course, different projects call for differing aesthetics, and web design is all about meeting the challenge of creating a unique, appropriate look-and-feel for each site.
- Navigation is the user’s experience of the site architecture, and is one of the prime areas where information and graphic design merge together. Visual cues such as hyperlink styles play a role alongside organisational cues such as site hierarchy and the labelling of site sections.
- Web browsers, even today, can prove a stumbling block for site design, with different versions of different browsers rendering the same site in sometimes drastically different ways. It’s important therefore, to test a site in all the major web browsers during and after development, to ensure it is accessible and usable in as many different environments as possible.