The practicality of ‘beautiful design’

Device Dashboard - iPad - UI/UX/iOS by by Jason Wu on Dribble

Device Dashboard – iPad – UI/UX/iOS by by Jason Wu on Dribble

Sliding foldout menus, popout hover displays, spinning menu wheels, slick beautiful design is in abundance throughout the latest cool websites like these screens from Dribble. Inventive creativity is a great thing for the web, but are key design challenges being ignored in pursuit of glamour?

Stylish UI design is everywhere, content heavy sites, applications and device menus have thrown up so many demands for quickly accessible but neatly presented menus and options, and it’s not hard to find some excellent work. Designer’s sharing sites like Behance, Dribble and Pinterest show all manner of inventive methods, from hover and touch screen effects, pages that fold, fade, slide, jump and spin, even simple traditional things like dropdowns use the latest motion effects. These help to inspire designers to implement similar features and build upon them, but there is a real danger, that in aiming for diversity and original beauty it can seriously damage user intuition and client demand.

Weather App (washing machine) by Kreativa Studio on Dribble

Weather App (washing machine) by Kreativa Studio on Dribble

Here are just some potential issues that spring to mind when viewing clever new inceptions..

1. Screen width – at SSA we are primarily concerned with data orientated websites, clients want as much screen width (& height) possible to see columns and rows, often with little concern for its visual aesthetic. A top menu and left column menu is often too much space to take, the neat white spacing too frivolous and impractical, the aim in these contexts is minimal and predictable display, with the styling primarily focused on maximizing central space.

UX/iOS/UI iPhone ide by Cuberto on Dribble

UX/iOS/UI iPhone ide by Cuberto on Dribble

2. Compatability – So you’re using an HTML5 slide in menu and graphics, where each chart bounces in to show most recently viewed? Sounds great, just so long as the old browser users don’t receive a vastly different experience. What about mobile devices too? They cannot hover buttons so will need a considered approach to achieve the same intuitive experience.

OS X Email App by Misha Bilenko on Dribble

OS X Email App by Misha Bilenko on Dribble

3. Cross site Consistency – Again a consideration for larger content sites. Building the home page is the best part, and it’s fairly easy to see how the top menu structure works, but what if content requires a second or even third submenu? What about user restrictions or implementing a new notification system? Sites with strong navigational structure can adapt well and easily build in new features.

Geo Tagging by Cosmin Capitanu on Dribble

Geo Tagging by Cosmin Capitanu on Dribble

4. Adaptable features – following from the previous point is how specific many awesome website designs are. If your menu items display around a circle and the 5 options are perfectly spaced, what happens if a 6th option is added? How wide are rows for icons and buttons that the site remains adaptable? Sites are often beautifully fitted together but would struggle to add any new content at all.

App Welcome Screen by Bobby Anderson on Dribble

App Welcome Screen by Bobby Anderson on Dribble

5. Dynamic Content – Another consideration specific to a type of website. Blogs and news sites will contain short and long pages, varying image widths and quality and entirely dynamic search result pages, so is your site ready? No amount of testing can prepare for every eventuality but well thought out structure can absorb areas of changing content.

Media Temple Plesk by Gene Ross on Dribble

Media Temple Plesk by Gene Ross on Dribble

6. Fruitless graphics – finally the design vs usability dispute. Many designers will rightly want to make a stand out page, a dashboard or summary page perhaps, where a large infographic or image gallery greets the visitor and sells the site better than the more detail heavy areas. Great idea, so long as the clients happy, could be a totally useless collection of fluff that users have to click past to get the real information, which makes it a poor design. Similarly simplifying information, taking page highlights at the top or giving unhelpful menus can all be part of this beautiful clutter.

Stapp MacApp Interface by Charlie Isslander on Dribble

Stapp MacApp Interface by Charlie Isslander on Dribble

There is no specific criticism intended by these points, each website has a particular target, aim and requirements to which fancy design elements could very much benefit, maybe even define the site’s success. But by a modern web designer’s standards, these elements are a common preventative from missing a key requirement to good design.

Find out more about specifically tailored websites built for clients at Strategic Apps.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s