The Importance of Design

By Vince Barnes

A good website starts life in the design stage. There are several aspects of the site that are formed at this stage, including among other things, layout, color, sound, content, functionality and maintainability. No reasonable person would start to build a house without designing it first, no reasonable website builders should begin construction without a design either. While I admit there may be a better chance of succeeding with the un-designed website than with the un-designed house, you are selling yourself short if you skip the design stage. A friend of mine says (about programming computer systems) "you can't debug a system; you can only debug a system design. Sure you can fix the syntax things, but it's in design where the bugs are eliminated -- or introduced!" Wise words! The same holds true for a website, though by "bug" we might mean something a little different.

If design is so important, how should we go about it? This introduction is intended to help you take a structured approach to the design of your site, and maybe make life easier as you revisit some aspects of your earlier work. This is a process I go through all the time with my own sites. The more you do, the more you realize the benefits of good design work.

I used the analogy of a house design a moment ago; there are some good parallels to be drawn between these two types of design. The design of a house involves not only the appearance of the finished house, but also the material of which it is made, the manor in which the material is used (sorry, I can never resist a good pun!), the time and expense required to put it together, the ease of access and the usability of its rooms and the building's durability and maintainability. A website design involves the look and feel of the site, the languages and server resources it will use, the programming and data structures involved, the time and programming abilities needed, end-user ease of use and site maintenance. Design a house, design a website. Same thing -- almost <G>!!

I hope I have convinced you of the importance of taking a little extra time in the design stage of your development work. "A stitch in time saves nine," my Grandma used to say. And the web wasn't even around then!

The next parts of this series will take you through the conceptual details of the design elements mentioned in the first paragraph. Your chances of creating an attractive, interesting and easily maintained website are much higher if you read through these design tips, and bear their considerations in mind as you proceed with your design.

 

Proceed to
The Non-Technical Intro
Part 4

Go to
The Non-Technical Intro
Index

 


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