4 Design Elements You Hate, But They Work

4 Design Elements You Hate, But They Work
  • There are cases when the taste of you as a designer and the one of your client don't coincide
  • Find out tips about what elements to use to make this work
  • Learn how "click here", "home" button, "search box" and other factors should be used to work best 

If you've ever created a website for someone else, you've had to go through that painful process where the client submits edits that you feel are unnecessary, ugly, or just heart-breaking. You think to yourself, "Design is King," and wonder why the client can't understand that your original comp doesn't need any editing. But before you write off your client as a design-ignorant troglodyte, perhaps you should consider that there are many elements that you may hate, but they actually "work"...

Click Here to Continue

Personally, I've never liked a design that tells a visitor exactly what to do. "They're not that dumb, are they?" I reason. So the classic "Click Here to _______" is a particularly annoying phrase to me, and I usually try to use a less ubiquitous phrase like "Read Article" or "Learn More about Troglodytes." However, the fact is, the "Click Here" phrase actually performs better than other expressions as indicated in a September Marketing Sherpa study (some stats from the study can be found by clicking here).

The Home Button

Since space is a luxury in website design, most designers leave out the "Home" button on the menu (myself included). Instead, we take advantage of the website's logo, usually in the top left, and link that to the home page - after all, that is an accepted Internet convention. For example, Flash FX website has done away with Home Page Button rather they have hyperlinked the logo with the website URL to facilitate the navigation process.

But although many people know they need to click the logo to return to the home page (and you should link it that way), there are still many users who don't realize this. I worked for a company a little while back, and during user testing, we found that only half of the users (namely users who used the Internet a lot) knew that the logo would get them back to the homepage. Furthermore, many users did want to get back to the home page, usually remembering some link or offer that they wanted to check out. 

Where's the Search Box?

Everyone has a different "starting point" when it comes to a web design. Most start with the logo and header and go from there. Usually, the content is plugged in last along with "peripherals" like ad space and a search box. Unfortunately, if your website is content-driven or retail-oriented, it is the search box that needs to be preeminent in your design. We live in a world where people expect to search quickly and effectively for whatever they want. In fact, if your website is in one of the categories above and you do have a search box, I can almost guarantee (from personal experience tracking traffic on such sites) that the search box is the most used "area" for new visitors, with your menu probably second. So, make sure you focus on these and don't tuck them away because they "don't really fit in your design." (And yes, I do need to add search functionality to this site :-)

Make "It" More Obvious

This directive has a variety of incarnations: Make the Text Bigger, Add a Starburst, Use Brighter Colors. Now before you double-over in pain at the previous suggestions, remember that sometimes, the client does know more about his audience than you. Often, after a client tells me that 8pt text is too small, I will show the design to other non-designers and they'll agree with the client (!!!). I'm not saying the client's design sense exceeds yours, but you need to be willing to compromise and still make your design look good. Remember, you are trying to communicate to the client's audience, not other designers. On my Free Stuff page, you will notice I resorted to the shameless gradient starburst. Not because I think it's a great design, but because it really does work well. Making something more obvious is not always bad...

In summary, anyone creating websites needs to remember that a website which accomplishes a client's goals is more important than a website that makes a good exhibit. Hopefully, you can make it both functional and beautiful; just remember not to "write off" the above elements, no matter how much you hate them. 


Michael Evans

Michael Evans

Manager at 3leaps

Michael Evans is a blogger, a part time real estate agent and did I tell you that he is an online marketing expert and yeah, he is a Google Adwords certified professional. He is currently associated with 3Leaps ()


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