Should Web Designers Still Prioritize Visual Appeals?

Posted on July 2, 2013 by

When working on a project, many web designers find it rather annoying to know that clients are relying too much on them to make everything look good. Everything can refer to so many things, like a button or log-in form, but quite likely the entire website. Confusing, unformatted and raw content is usually sent to web designers, so it can be transformed into something that looks visually appealing. Many designers despise this perspective, since they think that web design is much more than about decorating sloppy content. They would argue that web designers are meant to make content easy to work with, easy to use, flexible and accessible. The actual value in web design is related to something that we feel, instead of something that we can see.

Human being is blessed with amazing default behaviors and among them is to make things look pretty. We invest out time make things look good, we want nice places to work in and we tend to spend time with someone who we’re attracted to. Unfortunately, this amazing gift is not without some consequences, some designers may deliberately sacrifice some amount of usability to achieve greater visual appeals. Experienced professional designers think that making things look good is beneath them. Visual acceptance of their work is simply the result of careful planning, built around numerous factors such as typography, white space, color theory, perfect ratios, grid systems and others. They believe that good designs will decorate themselves along the way. While beginners love to make things look good in Photoshop during their leisure times, more experienced professionals usually move on to better and bigger things. Much of web design community has transitioned from deliberately achieving pretty casuals to supposedly more meaningful functions. Current web technologies have allowed developers to reach higher places. As creative individuals, web designers are a bunch of professionals who refuse to settle in one place for too long. And obviously, that includes making things look good.

New designers tend to thinks that leaving behind the common goal of making websites pretty is wrong, on the other hand, more experienced professionals understand aesthetics are more than just petty tricks for the uninspired. Also some have already argued that prioritizing on visual appeals is an outdated way of doing web design. Any visual achievements we might aim to accomplish could have been duplicated hundreds or thousands times before. Designers with limited time find it more worthwhile to make their website fully functional and usable than look pretty.

Nevertheless, professional web designers shouldn’t cringe when they read “attractive visuals” is included in the design requirement. Visually appealing designs are always a good thing to have, since they have visceral impacts on users and prompt emotional responses. While designers can safely prioritize functionality and usability over visual appeals, those who ignore the significant impacts of prettiness could risk being surpassed by their peers. Users, designers and clients all stand to gain immensely from some extra coat of paint.

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