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Designing What You Need

Created by: Rob on 04 Feb 11

If you were to construct a hierarchy of web design needs, what would be the greatest need on the bottom of that triangle?

The important factors to consider would be functionality, reliability, usability, proficiency and creativity. The order of these needs would be made according to what your website's end goal is. Does your website need to produce sales leads? Does it need to introduce your brand to the market? In any case, the following order would be helpful in determining the right approach for any web design project.

We have Functionality at the bottom of the hierarchy because it is what makes the website work first and foremost. As well as meeting basic functionality needs, the user interactions are important so they must be accounted for in well developed, well structured applications.

Next we have to test the website for Reliability. Your web design must be stable and perform consistently. It has to not only work, but work again and again. Just as the website has new elements and functions added, it must still work with same amount of reliability every time.

There must be strong focus on the user's needs, so next in the hierarchy we have Usability. It's important to make all the uses of the website easy to find and do. This can be achieved through a well structured navigation system and content. Is it easy to browse the relevant content? Is the layout of the website organised in a way that presents a natural way to navigate? Usability is an important part of the web design early in the process.

Near the top of the hierarchy we have Proficiency. Proficient designs are highly functional. Expanding on basic functionality and providing a new, innovative way of doing things is generally considered proficient. A proficient website might include advanced search options, the ability to combine data from different sources into more sophisticated levels of information and Web-based tools.

At the top, but certainly not an unavoidable part of the process, is Creativity. Once all of the above needs have been met, you can explore the pure design of the website. A creative website might include a mix of good typography, general aesthetic appeal and interaction using modern javascript or Flash effects.

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