We should not be afraid to question website designers

People who commission websites, like you and I, must be in awe of web designers. That’s the only way I can explain the way that we allow the look and feel of our sites to slavishly follow the styles that are in vogue, and which just happen to have lots of up-to-date, off-the-shelf templates which designers can use and save time. You can date the majority of websites simply by looking at them.

Some of the features which have come and gone weren’t great. Take links and buttons, for example, which I mentioned last week. Once upon a time all links were underlined blue text. If you’re under 30, you probably can’t imagine a web where everything looked like this. Then designers started experimenting with different colours (confusing), removing the underlines (design at the expense of functionality), buttons (which worked, in moderation), animations (which made everybody sick), rounded corner buttons (cute), shadows and 3D (which went out of control), flat design (as a reaction), and most recently, ghost buttons. These are the type of buttons which just have the text in a translucent or transparent box.

Now doubt is being cast on the effectiveness of this latest trend. Research has shown that stronger contrast between elements reduces the time taken to find information. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who uses the proven technique of Common Sense. But the lesson to learn is that we should not be afraid to question website designers. Make them explain why they’ve chosen a particular way of doing things. In many cases, their only answer will be because Noupe or Smashing have told them that’s the trendy thing to do at the moment. And that’s not good enough.

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