Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Web design: Single page and hand drawn web sites


I've always been a minimalist. I do not like glittering web sites, full of flash movies, sliding pictures, blinking boxes and all the stuff created to catch one's eye. I am always overwhelmed when I see those non efficient and non effective examples of web design.
Think about it: the most famous web site in world is probably Google.
Easy and simple design is always effective and Google people seem to know it. I noticed that the more the website has really nothing to say, the more the glittering is on. When you find out a useful place, you will notice that simplicity is always a rule.
I understand that I am getting a little bit (!) controversial, but that is exactly how I feel about web design (and I actually wrote about it in the past).

When I started playing around web design, sites were sold by the page: the general design had a cost (let's say the home page) then every single added page had a different price. Web developers would then advice on how many pages you needed.
Today I believe the market is quite different. We talk more about the functionality of a web site, we start from the philosophy behind it, the purpose, the target audience, the interaction capabilities needed. I think that we've elevated in terms of 'real' content. Web design's gurus have their own blog where they desperately try  to spread a new vision (or - allow me to say - a new web philosophy).

Opposed to countless inside pages, recently I've been drawn to single page web sites as examples of simplicity and functionality. With present technologies like AJAX or ready-made libraries like jQuery, this is possible and you don't need to be a super programmer with a 50 years coding experience to do it.
Undoubtedly, you have to follow some rules and probably you need to be more accurate and precise in terms of code quality. For instance, page's weight could pose a real issue here and in general development could become very complicated and time consuming: you need to intensively focus on design and creativity issues, in addition to normal coding.
See it as an exercise in extreme programming... surely challenging, but definitely rewarding.

Single page web site has various advantages, but, most of all, it surely would stand out in the internet's chaotic sea. It could be more easily indexed by search engines and it could be more responsive and quicker in terms of navigation.
The more I think about it, the more I like the idea.

Talking about web sites suitable to be developed as single page, I think that portfolio sites, or single product mini sites are potential candidates. It is clear that when the web site content is very rich, a single page won't be enough, or could be too much complicated to develop. But again... who needs too much informative web sites? Get to the bottom of it, convey your message in a straight and direct way whenever you can.

Looking around the internet for information on single page web sites, I found a second interesting thing that really caught my eye: hand drawn home pages.
I don't know if it came out as opposed to sparkling and shiny design, but I really appreciate the simple and even childish look of hand drawn sites. I do understand that - for example - shades of black give a professional look, especially to commercial web sites, but sometimes a simple style can really make a difference in terms of - for instance - brand awareness. I believe that a visitor is always attracted by diverse things and more easily remembers out-of-the-ordinary web sites. Often well known companies carefully evaluate the possible impact of a change in brand perception by the market, and the use of a hand drawn site is not considered as a possibility. Until someone will consider that possibility, and - believe me - we will have plenty of those web designs.

In conclusion, I would like you to consider a very good article I found on single page web sites by Alexander Dawson. To see hand drawn web pages just use Google and plenty of examples will pop up.

Please, I'd really appreciate if you share your thoughts on this, if you have a moment.


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