When working with a web development agency on a new website or mobile app, you may ask yourself whether the “design” portion of the project is really needed. After all, is that just a fancy word for “decoration?”
You probably already know that search engine optimization is one of the major keys to getting potential customers to visit your site, and that just relies on the content and the code. A search engine doesn’t care about the colors of your buttons, or how pretty your pictures are. So why should you spend the extra investment on the design process to begin with?
I completely agree that design for design’s sake is not helpful at all to your business’ website. But here’s the thing — web design and design for design’s sake are two completely different concepts. To explain this, let’s lay out exactly what design means.
What is UI/UX Design?
There are two different ideas at play here. User Experience (UX) Design is the process of planning your website so that a user will have the best possible experience when interacting with it. After all, a potential customer who enjoys using your website will spend more time on it, view more pages, and be more willing to purchase products, sign up for services, or whatever it is that you want them to do. The process to make this work takes a lot of research, planning, brainstorming, and wireframing to come up with the smoothest flow a user can take.
User Interface Design (UI) is the result of taking the foundation that has been created through the UX process, and applying your company’s unique look and feel to it. This is what makes your website your website, and not some generic template that you can find for sale. Once a solid UX foundation has been established, the UI process should enhance and reinforce it.
Why is design so important?
Now that we know what UI/UX means, that still doesn’t explain why it is an essential step in the development process. But what makes a website intuitive depends almost entirely on the UX.
Developing a website or app without taking the time to research how a user should use it, and what pitfalls need to be addressed beforehand, will be an extreme disservice to your project, and could even cause it to fail. There’s an old saying among digital marketers that “Content is king,” and good design takes that to heart. The most important aspect of a website or mobile app is engaging content and the ability to easily find that content.
Think of UX as being the frame of a house – it holds everything together and creates the overall shape. Meanwhile, UI is the color of the walls and the type of material used for your kitchen counter – these are things that you’ve selected, but they are still part of the base design. Your content, in contrast, is the furniture, family photos, or any personal items that truly make the space feel like your home.
If a house is designed well, no one will notice or question the placement of a wall – it just provides the seamless structure within which all the action happens. The same goes for design – it provides the subtle structure that supports a website’s or application’s content.
How does Trifecta Technologies approach design?
Design, like everything else in development, is a process. It starts with an in-depth discovery period, during which we learn as much as we can about your company and your goals for the project.
Next comes independent research, which includes researching your competition, your branding, your messaging, and your goals. Once we feel we have a thorough understanding of the project, we will begin to sketch UX concepts on paper and, when comfortable, we will create wireframes. The wireframes are a visual guide of the basic structure of your project (similar to house blueprints). They will give you a solid understanding of how the design will present your content, and how a user will navigate through it.
The final step is creating visual compositions, which are also called mockups. These represent a pixel-perfect view of your project, and will show you exactly how it will look once it has been developed. Any adjustments to the design can be quickly addressed at this point before any code has been started. Once this process is complete and has been approved, the designs will be transferred to development and your project will be on its way to completion.
So, to answer the original question, “I just want a simple website – do I really need design?” Well, the only way you are going to truly get a simple, easy-to-use website, is through design.