Aesthetic vs content vs usability of websites

24 Mar

I’ve been designing websites for quite a while now and have gone through the same process I find many of my students go through.

The first consideration always seems to be about aesthetic.

  • What does it look like?
  • Is it pretty?

But this is not enough, beyond this content becomes a factor.

  • What is in the site?
  • Are there gadgets?
  • Are there games or things to keep people occupied and possibly even coming back? Included in content and leading to the next point is image size.
  • Are the images made small enough so that they will download without problem?
  • Are videos and music files resized properly to stream and download on slow connections?

The final consideration and one the I look at mostly now is usability.

  • Is there a search function built in to the site or am I using an archaic sitemap?
  • Does the site load well?
  • Does it have an unnecessary Flash page?
  • Does it have unnecessary Flash, animations, sound, hard to read fonts or bad use of colors?
  • Are the buttons available in the same place on every page?
  • Are they buttons logical or could they be grouped better?
  • Is the content linked to itself and easy to find?
  • Do the pages have continuity beyond the buttons?
  • Is the site filled up? (for example, the site has been launched but you find placeholder text, “This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information…”
  • Is the site updated or stagnant? Will I come back to it?
  • Is the site useful or interesting?

As a design I need to consider other things like:

  • Is there good support from the site administrators?
  • Is the site upgradable/adaptable to my needs?
  • How easy is content addition/updating?
  • Is it going to search rank well without outside factors?

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One response to “Aesthetic vs content vs usability of websites

  1. Fuji

    April 23, 2011 at 4:37 am

    Well, I agree with this post, education is shifting from it’s traditional ways to never ways. 10 years ago no one would be Googling for a research paper on Hitler. Still those gadgets that you said have a cost, and they might limit the availability, the tuition fee might increase from that. Reflecting on the political unrest last year that caused the school to close and we were on Ning for a week, it was a little confusing at first, but I think it became better after getting used to it, it’s more convinient, it could be done at home, at an internet cafe, hotel or even your iPhone. Principals should reconcider their epic NO on mobile phones, schools should reconsider this policy. Since prohibiting technology which are used in the real world is not a good way in introducing the students into the future of technology.


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