I’ve seen multiple presentations on what defines a great web designer. These presentations will tell you that there are specific things that define a great website and a good website. They mention–sometimes quite emphatically– that great websites are never created from templates and that a good website design and a great website design are vastly different. I would argue that a great web designer is one who understands your audience and your business objectives to create a visually appealing design that produces results.
Good design and great design are two very different things. By the same token, what separates a good web designer from a great web designer isn’t quite so pat or so easily distinguished. There are a few criteria by which you can tell what is and what is not a good website design. In fact, you’ll read a great deal about what defines a good design and how it is different from a great design.
Good design, it’s said, has some tells. In a presentation at Webmaster Jam in about 2005-2006, website great Cameron Moll told the world that the differences between good design and great design were these:
- Good designers decorate while great designers communicate
- Good designers believe less is more while great designers felt that less and more could effectively co-exist.
- Good designers fixed problems, while great designers prevented them.
- Good designers treated text as content, while great designers treated text as a user interface.
- Good designers use good typefaces while great designers use good typography.
- Good designers redesign while great designers realigned.
With all due respect to Mr Moll, there’s a little more to it than that. The things that qualify as great design in this presentation are things that can be taught and imparted by a good school and ample practice. What makes a great web designer are things that usually cannot.
You don’t often find something that tells you what a great web designer does that makes him great. Most of it has to do with quality, timely, outstanding website design.
Some of it, however, does not. .
Does the man who has clients out the door and around the block, whose every design is spot on qualify as a great designer? Does he hold that status if his work is always late and his attitude is always bad? If he cares more about his fee than he does about your brand, does he get to keep the great designer status?
Not if the customer is wise, he doesn’t.
Does a good web designer whose work is solid, speedy and timely, very good, but perhaps not outstanding qualify as great? Do they achieve that status if they bring with them a wonderful attitude, a willingness to listen, and a work ethic that sees them completing their work on time and under budget?
They probably do qualify as great in that instance, but if the design isn’t precisely right, we’re not going to give them the name.
Can a good designer produce a great design? The answer is of course they can. With the right practice, the right tools and the right input from the customer, a good designer, one who has less than perfect skills can give you a great design.
Just as any other skill can be enhanced by learning, can be built on by practice, website design can as well. Breaking out of your normal routine, exploring and expanding your horizons can produce a great design from a good designer. In fact, mediocre designers can produce top quality “excellent” designs.
What do you look for in a great web designer?
If you’re looking for a quality web designer, what you define as great will have a lot to do with how you select them. For the most part, and in our personal opinion, a great web designer has specific qualities that make them not only someone who produces consistently high quality designs, but someone who is a pleasure to work with and with whom you can communicate easily and readily.
A great designer brings you:
- A web design that is visually appealing, easy for your audience to use and achieves your desired business results.
- The ability to communicate and a response within a reasonable time span.
- A good quality design for a cost effective price.
- An outstanding ability to work with you until you nail down exactly the look and feel and business results that you want from your website.
- A speedy, reliable, attractive, well coded website that offers your users a great user experience.
- Someone who understands SEO (search engine optimization) and factors that into the web design
- A timely completion of the website.
- A quality experience with someone who is concerned about your brand and your business.
In short, the difference between a good and great web designer is often in the fine details.
In part, it’s in the speed of your site, in the customer experience that the website offers. In part, a great designer is someone who is willing to go the extra mile, to provide you what you need, when you need it, to work hard to please you and to provide you with a few little extras as you need them.
A great web designer does all those things on time while providing you with a unique and enjoyable experience while building the website.