Talking of site names and corporate logos, these have now become far less important in web design than they once were. I remember a number of very long threads in the WebPlus forums relating to the logo design for a well intentioned charity organization.
Automobile Dashboard was Designed like a Brochure?
Whilst I participated in the search for a suitable logo for a short while, I quickly realised that the thread was going nowhere; the reason was simply that too much emphasis was being placed on the elusive logo rather than on the more important aspect of site objective. Many WebPlus users made very helpful contributions to the threads, but they too realised they were hitting their heads against a brick wall, and the threads were brought to a very abrupt end.
Websites are different from other forms of communication. For example, websites are not brochures – they’re not even showcases for products or services. Brochures are typically designed with a front cover that sets the scene for what the brochure contains. They usually carry a strong brand or corporate identity so readers will quickly understand whose brochure it is. Web sites, on the other hand, have a completely different role to fulfil. They are “Dashboards” rather than brochures. A dashboard is where people take control over something. Can you imagine how annoying it would be if an automobile dashboard was designed like a Brochure? Think about it.
Objective of a Website Without Some Input From the Client
You get into your vehicle and there in front of you is a decorative plate emblazoned with the corporate identity of the vehicle manufacturer. You would then have to fiddle around looking for a button that would bring the dashboard and all its controls into view before you could even start the vehicle. Web sites are no different. The modern web surfer wants to get in the driving seat and take control immediately. They can’t do this if the site has one of those irritating intro pages, or if the site has been designed like a brochure that focuses visitor attention on the This is tooltip.
The first real step in creating really good websites is to toss out all these outdated schools of thought. Instead, start looking at the objective of a particular website. Get this right and the design will be driven by the objective itself. Of course, you can’t establish the objective of a website without some input from the client. Unfortunately, not many clients can give you much in the way of information; therefore, it’s down to you as a web designer to extract that information. Fortunately, the amount of information you need for the design process to start shaping up is far less that you may imagine. In the next section, we’ll start the process of creating an effective website design by soliciting that all important client brief.