Here are five of the most important facts about web design I’ve learned in my seventeen year career. Keep them in mind and you will have a better web product for it.

One: JavaScript is important
JavaScript is here to stay.  It’s close to universal on client browsers in use today.  With people desiring a more and more rich client experience JavaScript is shouldering the load quite well.  Add to it jQuery or any other of the JavaScript libraries and it’s power is multiplied.  The serious web designer will add a strong skill set in JavaScript to their repertoire and benefit from it for years to come.

Two: CSS will eventually kill bad design practices
The early pioneers of web design worked with the tools they had to build attractive interfaces.  This meant making use of tags like TABLE and its associated descendants for display manipulation instead of semantic definition.  CSS is slowly killing these techniques off.  

CSS allows code to be organized in a more logical way, renders more attractive sites in browsers and eases maintenance efforts of developers.  As more and more web designers learn CSS it will replace the methods used in the past and those tangled knots of code will begin to disappear from the web.

Three: Searching beats browsing.
This isn’t because Google spoiled us though that has helped.  Searching, simply put, is more efficient than browsing.  Enter a search phrase and jump directly to the result you are looking for.  Even if you have to repeat the exercise a couple of times it is far more efficient than the alternative.  

With browsing you start at some point in the list: beginning, end, some arbitrary location and begin linearly eliminating possibilities until you reach your desired result or, more likely, give up.  On a site of any considerable size search is a necessity.

Four: The skills of your developers determine the success of your platform
A platform may offer all the ease of use, integration capabilities and processing speed you could ever ask for.  However, if none of your developers are skilled in utilizing it you will never realize its full potential.  Make sure the team you assemble to develop sites on your platform have the skills to leverage what the platform has to offer.

Five: Well planned wins over well executed
Unless you make a conscious effort at the outset of a web design project to plan the design of your site it will always be less efficient than it could be.  Regardless of how skilled your developers are, if they are not working to an overall plan the site will end up with inconsistencies, trap doors and dead ends when assumptions are made and no means of validating them exist.  Spend some time in the beginning of your web design project to map out what you are building and you will have a much better result because of it.

Question: What facts have you learned about web design in your career?

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