Web Design and Fashion Design
Over the years, various website design features have been developed to enhance and beautify content on the web. Some of these design features are practical and functional. Yet, others are so focused on the appearance that the actual usability of the website is hindered. An easy comparison could be made to the world of fashion. As new styles are introduced, audiences are in awe and applaud the beautiful, yet mostly unusable, styles. Perhaps the same observation could be made about auto shows that announce concept cars that look inspiring yet most likely won’t ever end up at a dealership or used by the average consumer. In the web design industry, there’s always a push to be showing off the latest design. This can sometimes result in overpriced and over engineered websites that require ongoing maintenance and updates — especially if one wants to remain at the forefront of innovative design.
Staying with well tested yet contemporary themes is probably the best practice. Framework changes and custom graphics that are optimized for one theme may not work for future themes, so excessive time spent on adapting to the needs of a specific design may end up being wasted in the long-run.
Knowing What You Want
There are a variety of theme genres or categories that sites can fall into. Having a design in mind that includes the general appearance, layout, and function of the site will help the developer have a place to start from and can avoid future revisions and redesigns. Theme companies often organize themes by category. You can see examples at ElegantThemes.com and WooThemes.com. WooThemes let’s you search or display themes by various attributes. Going beyond a standard web design may require a bit more work on the part of the developer to create graphics that fit the theme’s requirements. Some themes work better with just a few menu options, yet others can accommodate multiple menus with many fly-out sub options. So, it’s important to have a sense of how simple or complicated you want your site to be.
Edge-To-Edge Featured Photo or Background
Some themes have a captivating photograph or graphic that spans the entire web page edge-to-edge. When viewed in full-screen mode, the image takes over the entire screen. These look spectacular on larger displays and even on tablet devices. However, they loose their impact on a smart phone screen. Sites using this design approach usually have a mobilized option for smaller displays.
An example of an edge-to-edge design is the Maximize theme by Woo Themes shown below.
Another example of an edge-to-edge design is the Fullpane theme by Themify shown below.
Themes incorporating the parallax effect take the edge-to-edge design a step further by including layers of background images that move at a different scroll rate than the foreground image.
The image below shows the Parallax theme by Themify. Using the theme demo, you can personally experience the user interface.
The example above is showing how the translucent menu bar moves up the page as you scroll down to the next section.
One Page Presentations
As is illustrated above with the Parallax theme by Themify, it’s possible to have a considerable amount of content on the home page in different sections. This serves as content presentation and navigation providing links to further reading on topics. In the past, it’s been considered a best practice to have the home/landing page for a website as simple as possible with all content visible and no scrolling required.
Motion Video Edge-to-Edge
A recent development in web design is the ability to have edge-to-edge motion video as a background. This is usually muted or behind a tissue-like veil which helps to reduce the number of pixels required for displaying the video. Below is a freeze frame from the full-motion video home page of the GetFlywheel.com website.
If you choose a more advanced and graphically intensive theme, you may want to reduce the amount of content that requires customization. This will make it easier to upgrade or switch to a different theme later. What this means is that you should provide the basic information that your site visitors need on the main pages. Posts are usually more forgiving when adapting to a new theme or design.
Inevitably, when you’re half-way done with your new site or redesign, you’ll see an amazing website that makes your website look antiquated. You will be tempted to write your site designer and say, “Hey, I saw a really cool website. Can you make my site look like that?” Reverse engineering sites is difficult, and usually themes are utilized. Custom designing a website from scratch would require many hours. So, while it could be done, it would be cost prohibitive. Furthermore, even if you were to copy someone else’s site design, there would eventually be another site that you like more than your own.
It’s important to keep our focus on function and outcomes. If a site works, is attractive, and functions well, then it’s probably best not to upgrade more than once a year. Changing designs is difficult, and for regular site visitors, it breaks continuity and may result in a website that people don’t like as much — even if it’s only because people don’t like change.