A few times in these guides for web designers and web design clients, we’ve talked about the fact that the internet is no longer host to the “Field of Dreams” slogan, “if you build it, they will come.” This is nowhere more plain than when you look at what it takes to win website design awards.
Once upon a time, if you built a website worth even 5 minutes of a visitor’s time, you could get a coveted Webby award. Today, the competition is much more stringent.
Award-Winning Design Elements
Up til a few years ago, there was an unspoken contest among web designers in certain media-heavy markets. Who can make the “busiest-looking” website design without giving the viewer a headache?
Slowly, those designers are starting to realize that in that contest, the winner is usually – nobody. And it follows that exceedingly busy-looking websites, rarely win website design awards.
There are still plenty of niches that use, and even need to use, that “busy look.”
Musicians and artists, and ultra-modern media industries of every kind, continue to “look busy” in the visual department with a high degree of success. That’s partly because it is very difficult to fill a page with complex visuals and pull it off well – so, succeeding at that challenge is a mark of success in the arts and media world.
For the rest of us, there are much simpler ways to add visual elements to a web design.
Blank space lets the brain breathe easier, spending less effort to find, and focus on, what we came to a website looking for. Simple web design elements are simply easier for a visitor’s attention span to consume, and that’s become a major factor in who takes home the best website design awards.
Making a Contribution
With all these “back to basics” priorities re-emerging in the web design world, how’s a webmaster supposed to stand out today? The answer is another “back to basics” point, a return to the original purpose of web design – we stand out by making a contribution to the internet through our creations.
This has always been one of the top priorities, if not the premier factor, in winning website design awards: Does your website offer real value to its visitors? Is it novel, or educational, or enlightening in some way? Do visitors truly get something out of your website?
In the business world, the question of how, or even if, you should make a contribution, comes down to the simplest fact of any business-to-customer relationship.
Every customer, and by extension, every web visitor, is constantly asking one simple question: What’s in it for me?
Every businessperson knows this high-priority question is a defining factor of whether or not a business entity can become profitable. Simply apply that golden rule of business, to the principles of web design. What’s in it for the visitor?
But, this remains one of the biggest and most simple web design mistakes out there, and failing to make a strong contribution to the world via one’s website is a top disqualifying factor in competing for website design awards.
The question isn’t, “Is your website for you, or is it for your visitors, and your industry?” The question ought to be, “How can my website help me, by helping my visitors and my industry?” Websites that focus on this simple design priority continue to go far, and, we expect, always will.