Is Graphic Design the same as Website Design?
This is a great question and often when I’m sitting in a meeting with potential clients there is an open discussion about colours and graphics to be used on a website and maybe a brochure is put on the table asking can we replicate it on a website.
2 Different mediums.
After working in the print industry and migrating into the online publishing and website design industry it is interesting to see that many people are looking at a website like is was a printed brochure and often will have a totally different idea of what people want than ourselves. Maybe its being responsible for running hundreds of websites and seeing how they do in search engines that gives us a unique point of view.
A website tells you everyday how it’s doing, it communicates to you and tells you who, where, when, what type of screen it was viewed on etc etc. A website doesnt cost extra for extra colours of the fonts that you use because we are limted to the number of fonts a user has installed on their PC. If we use a fancy font, it will only display correctly on computers that has it installed. The alternative is to create a graphic in photoshop that has the word or phrase written on it. We have to remember that a search engine can not read that text, only humans can, and if they can not read it they can not index what is says, so you can have a graphic designer create a lovely looking website that may be slow to download and hard to find in a search.
Don’t get me wrong, I like graphics, I love designing website, but I must always keep my target market in mind and if I was to design a website for the visual pleasure of the audience and neglect the websites main function. To get found and give the person the content they are asking for.
Content is king.
A graphic design has a responsibility, a web designer does too, they must both create and make an impressions, the difference is the first is a matter of opinion by a user and the latter is a mixture of what the user likes and what a search engine will read. Indexing a website is a complex matter and depending on how you layout a website will depend on how the website is read. We have guidelines on the layout, font usage, font colour, so its not a case of beauty in the eye of the beholder.
Most of the websites that are in the top 3 searches in google will have little use of graphics and I would estimate are used very sparenly. We get asked every week to “fix” a website and in nearly every case it is due to a graphic heavy website that is not being indexed to its pull capabilities.
This doesnt mean that you have to remove the nice graphics on a website to get in indexed better, but just to note that it’s not the most important part of the site’s purpose. If you talk to a programmer they will be looking in a completely different direction too as they are looking at the database structure and how many sql queries each click makes and the impact on search engines and believe me they will take more of the graphic design away than I would.
My 3 rules for website design
If you are interested in graphic design and website design and have any comments we would be pleased to hear them.