• Christie Mays

Designing To Communicate

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

Every business is selling something, be it services or products.

The use of technology has made it easier, faster and better for people to find out more about businesses and just what they have to offer. It's also raised the competition bar and at the same time, leveled the playing field for small business.

As our digital world grows, we spend less time "reading" for information and more time "seeing" for information. And while this isn't an overly new concept, (think catalogs, magazines and store displays) how this "seeing" information is delivered to consumers is.

Digital design talks, instructs and appeals to our visual senses in a way that we associate feelings of trust and helps us to retain information. Its job is to communicate a message, an emotion, or create an experience for the consumer. All of this happens with just a few words typed into a search engine and a few clicks.

Whether you are a small business or big business, the name of the game is about how well you communicate and connect with potential consumers and clients.

Tips on how to bathe your dog.

Take this scenario for instance.

I have a pup that loves to loves to roll around on dead turtle carcasses! (You can't possibly imagine the smell.) He needs a bath. I'm always worried that I haven't rinsed him well. I need help in finding information on how to bathe my dog properly.

Type in Google search: How to Give a Dog a Bath. Click on website link, read the message, see the image and be inspired and instructed to click the link to find tips on how to bathe your dog. Problem quickly solved with lots of help from visual design.The photo alone instantly tells a consumer they are probably on the right path and the written message confirms it. It's almost instant.

Imagine though if a photo like this had not been used and this message was delivered in text format only. That might be okay, IF the font style and/or color are utilized to make it stand out in some way. While web design isn't all about making a pretty website, the importance of visual content can't be ignored. In communicating with the virtual consumer, it's imperative to make a connection that evokes an emotion- and images and color are the most powerful of tools to create that experience.

Today's world is a fast-paced one where consumers expect instant results for whatever it is they are searching for on the internet. Pictures, fonts, colors all grab attention and can lead the consumer to take the time to read the message and follow an instruction, which is the ultimate goal of visual design. But how a consumer gets there is the most important part of web design.

It all starts with a search.

The most popular web browsers as of today are- Chrome, Safari, IE and Firefox.

To clarify- a browser is a computer application that is used to locate, retrieve and display content for search results. It is your access to the internet. A search engine is a software system that navigates the web for the information you've requested. It allows you to "surf" the internet once you've accessed it through a browser.

Web designers aren't designing just for the client.

It's important to understand that whatever design is crafted to communicate to consumers, it must also communicate to search engines, work across multiple web browsers and be responsive. Search engine design comes in the form of content and the use of keywords and phrases. Utilizing a framework ensures better results in cross-browser compatibility and responsiveness.

The overall success of any website though, greatly hinges on how well it's marketed. Showing up in the search engines is first, but the ability to share a website's content within all of the most popular social media platforms is crucial. That's where designing for the user comes in. A website needs to respond to their behavior, meaning it needs to adapt to various screen sizes, platforms and orientations. In other words, a website has to be designed to be flexible- to look good and operate no matter who, what, where, when or how it's accessed. This increases a website's social media sharing capabilities- a vital aspect of the online community.

Keeping in mind the audience that a website is being designed for really is the thing that matters most however.

They are the ones that evaluate the success of the design and how well it works for them. Consider the following.

  • If it solves their problem, they experience a feeling of accomplishment.

  • If it appeals to their senses, they've made a personal connection with the business and are more likely to remember it.

  • If they make the decision to do business with the company, it's because they trust the message that was delivered in the design.

I feel that, if you have achieved all three of these, your work is done. I know that some may base the success of a website meeting other criteria and that's fine! This is just what falls in line with how I describe my job as a freelance web designer.

My definition for web design is when technical function is transformed to become aesthetically appealing by applying creativity and art, generating a pleasing experience for businesses and consumers.

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