[This is part 1 of a 3-part series]
My Experience from Working with Designers
I work with a lot of designers, and I know that a lot of you came from the print world, and have gradualy made the transition into web design (or want to). Here are some things I have observed that will be helpful to think about.
Really good web designers understand the medium, and how it is different from print. They work out their design process so that it works in the way a web page acts, and the way it feels to interact with a web page.
Design for the Whole Page, Not “Above the Fold”
An old usability study from the 90’s convinced a lot of designers to design for “above the fold” (the area of the page you see when you first open a web page), concluding that visitors did not know to scroll.
Well, this is no longer the case, and probably a big differentiator of good web design is understanding that a visitor interacts with a web page, and happily scrolls down to the bottom.
Many designers design a comp that focuses on the first experience of a web page (“the top of the fold”), and do not even design a footer. They may not insert even dummy text to see what the page will look like once it’s a real page, with height in it, with content.
(Incidentally, it would be wonderful if designers would spec out the typography for the whole thing—H1’s (Heading 1’s), H2’s, H3’s, bulleted lists, numbered lists, quote blocks, etc. There are good templates to do this. But Photoshop is probably not the place to do it. The place to do it is in a browser, using CSS.)
In the video, I say “you don’t just have to design for above the fold.” But what I really should have said is, don’t design for above the fold.
Notice, in the examples in the video, how there’s a progression of meaning that is created through scrolling—at the top, you have the first big idea for the site; then, you have granular information, such as posts, messaging, etc.; and at the end, you have a footer that serves a number of purposes.
When your visitor has gotten down to the bottom of that trail, he feels that the whole experience was considered—not just the first impression when the page loads.