Is Flashy Always Better?

Creating a website design can be difficult if the designer thinks more about its attractiveness instead of its functionality. A website can have a combination of attractive looks and great functionality, but hitting that balance is key.

I had recently made a post for another class about color usage in websites and how they either enhance their design or distract the user from its functionality. The assignment had asked for two website examples: one with great color usage to enhance the design, and one which has awful color design that takes away from the design. Although I had picked great examples for each, if both sites were compared to the design rules found in Krug’s, Don’t make me think, they might be classified in the wrong areas of good design.

For my first example, I made reference to 2advanced.com. The new design, even named Attractor for its attractiveness, is just pleasing to the eye. The colors are vivid and vibrant, page elements are easy to see, and each section of the site has a different color scheme. For a website that is constructed completely in Flash, it is a marvel at what people can accomplish with the right skills.

However, the one thing that is confusing about this site is its navigation. If a viewer looked closely at the page, they would see a line of text that reads, “Expand Navigation Array,” instructing users to roll their mouse over the link to view the navigation. Or does it? Because there is no obvious way to know if that line of text (which is hard to read from the start) is really a link or not, an average user might have a hard time to find it. Then, when it’s activated, keeping the mouse aligned straight enough to use the navigation is also another difficult task. For me, having a high resolution monitor that shrinks content on my screen, it’s increasingly difficult to navigate through the navigations. Although the entirety of the website is beautiful to look at, 2advanced would go against Krug’s rule of simplicity. Krug states, “I should be able to get it – what it is and how to use it – without expending any effort thinking about it” (11).

The second site that I looked at is the Association Of International Glaucoma Societies (AIGS). At first glance, the design looked horrid. Annoying colors just randomly chosen and mix-matched throughout the page give the site an ugly look. The site is constructed completely in frames, which on older computers and browsers looks bad with its scrollbars aplenty. Although it is a serious organization, the image of the floating heads in the top corner takes away from that seriousness. In general, it is just a terrible site design.

Yet, what this site has going for it that 2advanced does not is its navigation. Granted, it is ugly, but beauty is not skin deep when it comes to this site. The navigation is on the left site, which is a standard location for people to find the navigation. Even though a lot of the links just have yellow text and only a few have underlines, users will easily figure out that links are in that navigation. Plus, there is little thinking involved in finding information on the site, because the links are made up to give visitors exactly what they are looking for. For an ugly site, it can be navigated easily.

With that, it shows that even the best visually designed sites with flashy animations and interactivity can be hard to navigate if not constructed with the user in mind. 2Advanced is trying to show off their talents in web design and construction, and they do so with pride, but their basic navigation can be difficult to find and browse through if a viewer is trying to find something specific. Yet, on the AIGS website, although it looks terrible in color and design, the structure of the navigation is simple and it works well. “If you can’t make a page self-evident, you at least need to make it self-explanitory” (Krug 18).

References:

Krug, S. (2000). Don’t make me think. Indianapolis: New Riders, pp. 1-39.

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~ by Cliff Huizenga on October 24, 2006.

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