Designing web pages – Science or art?
I know it’s not a smart question but I will ask anyway. The reason is that I have a different take on the subject. You will usually answer that designing is both an art and a science. I differ. Web design is an art for some reasons and a science for some other. One must understand the difference if you want to be an effective web designer.
When does web design become an art?
Human beings respond positively to aesthetics. By this I mean they are attracted to pleasing colors and images used by designers. I recall many occasions when I have lost count of time appreciating some lovely pages with beautiful images and imaginative color schemes. Selection of right colors to reflect the right mood and occasion is important. No every website has to be pastel and formal. This is obviously a work of art. Ultimately everything has to fall in place.
Fonts play an important role in the scheme of things. I admit that the choice of fonts is rather limited while working with web pages but a little highlighting here and a bit of Bold there can transform a web page.
Another aspect of web page design is the look and feel. I have seen so many web pages look cluttered and filled up to the brim. This disorderly state leaves a visitor confused. Web pages must be clean with a lot of white space in between the text and images. The aesthetics of a web page certainly depend on the artistic ability of creator.
When is web page design a science?
Now let’s examine the science of web page design. First off is page download speed. While your artful self can design a great web page, it may take ages to download. No one has the time to wait for long and your website may become a casualty. You must use techniques to reduce image size and avoid use of Flash. Keeping a web page down to below 70K is advisable.
User interface design is a science you must learn. Navigation buttons must be large and placed strategically to attract users. This aspect of web design is generally ignored by many website developers. User interface is a craft which can convert clicks into cash. Shepherding visitors to the ‘BUY’ button is a science which can be learnt.
Another aspect of web page design is about SEO. How friendly is the content in the context of SEO. Is your web page optimized? After Google Penguin update you have to ask whether your web pages are over optimized. This aspect can obviously be learnt easily.
Web page design comprises of an artistic element and separately a scientific one. Though art can never be taught, it can be emulated. For example, I use Photoshop to cleverly copy certain colors which otherwise I would never be able to replicate.
User interface and SEO are aspects which fall under the ambit of science. These can be learnt and applied.