As the client of a website design firm, big or small, you're well within your rights to always be questioning your design team; asking them why they're doing a certain thing a particular way, and whether they would consider changing something based on your own research and ideas.
Your design agency may be the trained and experienced experts, but you're the client, and it's your satisfaction that should be at the top of your agency's mind at all time. Just because it's not your field there's no reason why you can't delve into the basics of website design of your own accord, learning about certain variables that can affect the way your company's design ends up looking to your audience.
With this in mind, we've listed below four variables that you should ask your web designer about next time you speak with them — all of which are variables that can vary the look, and quality, of your website depending on who views it.
Screen Sharpness and Colour Depth
The sharpness of the screen a visitor to your website uses can make a huge difference to how impressive your website looks on their end, and therefore how impressive of an organisation you look as a result.
Our computer, laptop, tablet, and smartphone screens have more pixels today than they ever had (and this is a trend that's sure to continue), with Apple having even named their impressive screens the Retina Display because of their undeniable quality.
What's more, the colour depth of many websites has increased in recent years due to modern web browsers no longer being constrained to only display web safe colours, meaning your website will look better than ever on newer screens, but will struggle to live up to their full potential on older displays.
Responsive design is an increasingly important variable in website design, and with good reason. Although the phrase wasn't coined until 2010, responsive web design is fast become an industry standard.
Designed to create an optimal viewing experience for as many users as possible, regardless of whether they access your website from a computer, tablet, or smartphone, you should specifically ask your web design agency questions (1) regarding the following points, in order of importance:
- Fluid grid design concepts: do they size elements in relative units, such as percentages, rather than absolute units,
- such as pixels?CSS style rules: will your website use different CSS style rules depending on the size of the device that accesses it?Flexible image sizing:
- does your website display the largest-sized image on the server so to create a highly optimised image, regardless of the device size?
Different web browsers behave differently — we all know this — but luckily this isn't as much of an issue as it once was, as the top two browsers, Google's Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox, are consistently updated and improved upon to increase the quality of their users experience of browsing the internet as a whole and, hopefully, stumbling across your website along the way.
It's up to you to tell your designer which browsers you're interested in supporting. They will optimise your website for Chrome and Firefox by default, but do you also want to add in support for Microsoft's Internet Explorer?
Internet Explorer's usage has fallen from a high of 88% of the browser market in 2003 to just 8.9% in 2014 (at time of writing) but if your statistics tell you that a large number of your customers still use Internet Explorer you should ask your designer to make allowances for it.
Although there's no logical reason why this takes place, fonts tend to look different online depending on a number of factors, including which browser and operating system your visitor uses.
In the case of the Windows vs. Mac debate, Apple Mac's tend to render fonts much more smoothly than Windows computers, which often leave a jagged edge if the font being rendered is displayed below a certain size. To counteract this you may wish to ask your designer to use web fonts, another cloud-based service which stores your font files in the cloud, ensuring everybody who visits your website will view your fonts exactly as you want them to, regardless of whether they have your font of choice installed on their system.
In conclusion, just because you're hiring a design agency to work on your company website doesn't mean you can't ask your designer about certain areas you're interested in improving, especially when it comes to certain variables that can affect the way your design ends up looking to your audience.
By Olivia Breen