There is no such thing as perfect web design, but what constitutes a successful design? I know an easy answer might be that “whatever makes the client or user happy” is a successful design or where “the goals of the company are fulfilled.” But is it really that easy? I think when you break it down to just clients and customers you are forgetting one major element, the designer.
On major websites achieving all the goals of the site is a major task all on its own so I do not mean to belittle the fact that if you fulfill all of these goals you have failed. But successful design has to mean a little more than that. As of right now we are caught in the era of user-centered design (UCD) where everything we design is to be done for the sake of the user. This is very important and will help not only websites, but everyday products. Amazon does almost everything that its users want it to do and the company seems to be doing pretty well so it must be successful design, right?
I would have to say that satisfying the users and the clients is only part of the equation. Too many times as designers I think we neglect our own feelings towards a design. I am going to add another element to the equation of successful design and that is the feelings of the designer on their finished project. I have done websites that did everything the client asked of me. The site got higher rankings in search engines. The growth of the site’s community was exponential over a short period. Yet looking back at it, I am not pleased at all with the design.
Maybe I am just too hard on myself because the time constraints to build and design the site were very short so I know I did the best I could do…I think. So basically, I did what the client wanted, I did what the user wanted, and I did what I could do given the time, yet I look back at it as not being successful. Why? Because I am not pleased with looking at it now. I created a successful design for everyone, but me.
Very rarely do I come across a design that I am proud of doing for an extended period of time.
I suppose that successful design can mean different things to different sets of people. For the user, if they can accomplish what they wanted on the site with relative ease then the design is successful. For a company if the site fulfills all of the company’s goals along with the users then it is a successful design. As for me, a successful design acoomplishes the goals of the user, the company, and myself.
A lot of us are designing websites because that is what we enjoy to do. If we do not begin to recognize that a successful design should take into account how we feel about the design, then I think we begin to despise what we do. And life is really no fun if you can’t enjoy what you are doing. I know this might come across as a selfish viewpoint, but if you can’t enjoy what you do for yourself you really shouldn’t be doing it.
Originally posted on May 24, 2005 @ 12:53 am