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The Most Common Design Mistakes That Web Developers Make

by new1 on November 8, 2012

For a website to be excellent it needs the right blend of great code along with great design.  This is why you will often get developers trying to design, and designers trying to master codes.  The fact is though, that programmers are not designers and so will often make a bad job of it.  For a developer code is far more important than the look of things; even though it is now vital to have some understanding of design.

The programmer does not need to understand everything about design, but due to the current market it is necessary for the developer to know how to design. Knowing the entire process is also of great benefit when trying to sell your services to a client. It can be possible for a programmer to learn how to design, but following are the most common mistakes that web developers make;

It is fine to just center everything

For most programmers it makes sense to keep copy, tag lines, and titles all aligned. The fact is that centered text on a website makes it look amateurish and it is better to use left-aligning. It is a good idea to ensure that are mathematically precise by using gridlines like those provided in Photoshop. Your design does not need to look grid-like, but it should look lined-up; when it is even out of line by a few pixels it can ruin the page.

It’s fine to just use the free fonts

Many people tend to believe that all fonts look the same and are never worth paying for.  Typography can really make a big difference when it comes to making a website look special. If you want to become good at typography then you will need to research the subject and begin training your eye. You should avoid just categorizing fonts as fun or boring; there really is a lot more to it than that.

You only need to keep on using a couple of the same colors

The idea of spending hours choosing a color seems absurd to most programmers. The fact is though, that colors are really important to the final look of the website, and it will take a lot of effort to change the colors at a later date. If you want to become good at choosing colors then look at the same resources as the designers use for this.

There is no need to get too detailed

Just the same as you can have passable code that could be improved upon, so it is with a mediocre design. A great design takes a lot of work and a good deal of time, and this is easy to forget when you are looking at the finished product; a lot of revisions and editing goes into making these perfect. A simple change can make a lot of difference to the overall look. You should never consider a work complete until it is as good as you can make it.

A lot more information will be able to go in that space

Designers and programmers often disagree about utility of space. It is natural for the programmer to want to get as much information into a space as possible. Designers, on the other hand, don’t like things looking too packed. Sometimes the best approach is to come to a middle-ground in this debate; sometimes a bit of empty space can really improve the look of a website.

There is no need to pay for pictures

If images look shabby then it will destroy the look of a website.  There are plenty of great resources these days on the web and you will also find non-commercial sites. If you are going to use the non-commercial sites then make sure you get permission first. There are places like iStockPhoto where you can purchase good images. It is actually well worth the money if you are going to be getting a good image.

I am not going to need any advice or opinions from other people

Most of us work with great designers so why not ask for their expert advice. When showing what you are working on you should be looking for helpful tips and not just a bit of praise; this should be all about learning and not pampering your ego. A designer is paid to be great at designing and you are not so take their advice. You should trust their opinions and follow some of their suggestions.

I have Photoshop and know what looks good.

It is a lot worse to be a bad designer who thinks they are good than just a bad designer. A good designer becomes good by constantly working with high standard designs; they spend a lot of their time looking at what is good. If you want to improve then you too will need to look at design resources and even read the occasional design magazine such as How to Print. All good programmers enjoy looking at other people’s code and the same must be true for those wanting to be a good designer. This will give you a sense for what is ‘good design’ and you just can’t get that from Photoshop

Learning to design well will take the same amount of time and effort as learning to do any other skill. Your work as a developer or other web worker might not ever involve you designing a website, but it is good to have the above information anyway.

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