From Good Design to Great Design

Design on the web can seem to be changing at warp speed. Thankfully, we’ve moved beyond the worst of the worst of the beginning days of website design. But now that we’ve mostly filtered out the lowest common denominator, where do we go from here? What does stepping from good design to great design in your WordPress site look like?

Data Driven Design

It used to be that design existed in a world where there wasn’t loads of data to work from, so having it to look towards is certainly an exciting moment in time. However it can be easy to accidentally let the data completely steer the ship. This can lead to focusing in too myopically and coming up with a small aspect of the solution instead of the macro picture. For example, simply following conversion rates can lead to a cluttered, salesman like design that might initially hook users but over time leads to deterring them.

A good way to look at data is to be data informed, instead of data driven. Take it in, but don’t let it be the be end all of design decision making. “It’s up to the designer, who lives at the intersection of technology and the creative arts, to come up with new ways of solving that problem. The designer can make unexpected connections between subjects and solve the problem in new ways.”

Great Design is Hard to See

A site design can spend a lot of time and energy creating flashy experiences, with all the bells and whistles, while completely missing the mark on the fundamentals. While an elaborate animation might seem like the way to go, is it the experience that your users are looking for when they come to visit your site? Is it preventing them from getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible? What about the content? Is the text readable for your audience? Sometimes the best typography is not the prettiest, but takes into account reading size and color contrast.

This may all sound obvious, but when designing your WordPress site it can sometimes feel underwhelming to decide on an intelligently designed site. Adding more elements can feel like evidence of more work. It’s helpful to keep in mind that the main goal should be, what is intuitive for the user, not what is most stimulating for the user. As Steve Jobs said, “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Everyone’s Burned Out

The digital world, as it evolved, is draining everyone. It’s not inherently helping our patterns and psychology, it’s exploiting them. The tone of the moment has shifted from we are in control of our tools to our tools are in control of us. Metrics produced by addictive quality designs are pursued by businesses all the time. “If you use digital products on a daily basis, you’ve probably noticed the proliferation of dark design patterns that try to manipulate you to engage further, deeper, or longer on a website or app.” So what to do with all that? Be an advocate for your audience and users. What kind of experience do they want to have and how can we make it easy on them to get to where they want to go.

In addition to the underlying user experience underpinnings of your WordPress site, remember the fundamentals of great visual design. Take a deeper dive into UI design in one of our previous posts.

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