Webdesign is a personal thing, no doubt about it. if you’re building a site for yourself (and don’t care whether anyone sees it or not) then you’re quite within your rights to make it exactly the way that you like. Some cases almost DEMAND that you do this – your individuality as a person, business or artist is what makes people interested in you in the first place. Going against the norms and presenting your information in an unconventional way can actually help to re-inforce your brand and bolster the impression that your fans have already got from you.
On the other hand, if your business isn’t based around a strong brand or image, you need to be a lot more logical or factual in your website’s layout. If you sell drill bits, nobody wants to have to fight to find what they need through a sea of cool imagery that would look more at home in a fashion magazine. Brands can be built over time – start with the branding quite small, and make it bigger as the brand grows. The most successful brands in the world don’t even need text as part of their advertising – just the logo and a picture will often do. You’re not going to get there overnight though.
If you’re building a website for yourself you can play around til you’re happy. However, if you’re paying a web or graphic design company to do it for you it’s going to be quicker and cheaper if you make your mind up from the start.
Let’s look at a few cases.
I take bands as my first example. All bands are different, and each have a different image or message that they want to portray. Firstly, of course, this comes from the music, but after that the band’s image is mostly visual. This begins in their stage performances which are then captured on video and goes on into still photography and the way that this is all presented on a website, album cover or magazine advert. In the case of a website, this should reflect your band’s image. If you’re essentially anti-design, go for something simple and clean. If you’re into the hipster thing you’ll want Instagram full-screen images and fancy fonts up the wazzoo. If you’re trying to create mystique, make it mysterious. if you’re trying to sell corporate entertainment, make the site a little more businesslike.
As a commercial, working designer with a style of their own, you’re going to be hired for this speciality style that you’ve developed over time and made all your own. If people find you on the internet your website really needs to reflect your house style. Designers are often hired by people with money who don’t understand design at all – you’ve got one chance to wow them and look like you’re worth the money that you charge. If you’re top-drawer, this amount could be substantial. If you’re not a web designer (although many top designers now are) your site needs to reflect all of this.
On the other hand, If you’re a jack of all trades things need to be a bit more middle of the road. If the style of the site is too stylised in one direction people are going to think that’s all you can do. If it’s too quirky or mysterious customers might think that you’re a flaky hipster or insane artist who will have trouble sticking to basic deadlines for relatively straightforward jobs.
Some businesses benefit from artistic and design-centric sites. This is usually the case with big brands – D&G or Rayban are good examples. While these companies do sell product, it’s almost more about the image that the company portrays. By buying the product, you’re buying into the image, so having a strongly stylised site that reflects this brand image is very important in these type of cases.
On the other hand, if you’re selling unbranded goods this aspect needs to be played down quite a bit. It’s likely that you’ll sell a more diverse range of products and so the theme of your website design needs to be a little more homogenised.
Think carefully and the path of true righteousness will appear.