Question of the Day: What is the Mark of a Great Web Designer?

Question of Day

Last week, we threw out this question to our networks on LinkedIn and Facebook and received a great variety of responses. Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments below.

As with many other things, visual appeal comes first. If the designer's artwork stands out, you'll notice it. Then comes someone who understands who the viewer will be and ensures that the message is clear. Somebody with knowledge of good UX and UI design. Somebody that does not use Flash and makes it a point to keep up with emerging technologies and developments such as HTML5 and Coffeescript as of late.

- David Wu, Home Care Assistance – San Francisco, Calif.

Great design is important but the design must incorporate usability. The designer must understand the user's point of view and - depending on the audience - create a user interface that is intuitive and easy to use - along with incorporating a sense of style. Nothing frustrates me more than getting confused or lost on a website - and I'm used to surfing.

David Williams, SilverPeak Arts – Toronto, Canada

Someone who doesn't just bend the rules...they break them. The work looks like a million dollars, functions well, and makes others say, "Why didn't I think of that?"

Sarah Ritchie, Design Print Partners – New Zealand

A great listener.This applies to designers in general, web, print or otherwise. You could be the best designer on this planet, but if you fail to listen to (and actually hear) the wants and needs of your client, it doesn't matter how great you are. You'll impress them, sure, but if it's not what they want or need, it won't matter.

Construct what your client wants first, then add in your greatness to make their ideas even better. Too often egos and "I know what's best" get in the way. It's a bitter pill to swallow to find out from your client that, yes, your sh!t really does stink. "That's a great looking site, but it's not what I asked for" is not what you want to hear.

Listen, then act. Plain and simple.

- Joe Rozsa, Trailer Trash Design – Cleveland, Ohio

The mark of a great web designer is to be able to not only take a concept into reality in a way that makes sense, works, and is visually beautiful; but also to have the ability to understand and communicate not only their intentions but the intentions of others.The difference between a good and great designer is to be able to work with and communicate with people in Sales and Marketing, Programmers and Developers, Print Designers/Production, and still produce something that addresses the overall needs and designers of end users.

In short a great web designer has the ability to communicate with and please at least half a dozen different groups of people, all with different needs, and still accomplish the mission.

Roberto Blake, Advanced Internet Technologies – Fayetteville, North Carolina

I think, in addition to following sound practices and conventions regarding usability and ease of navigation, a good designer listens to the client and captures their essence, and creates a site that reinforces it, providing the viewer with an experience similar and in keeping with what they would encounter in the client's office or store. If their branding does this well in other media, the web design will be reassuringly similar, and promise the same experience of the company or organization.

- Dan Reich, Bullseye Creative Services – San Francisco, Calif.

The mark of a great web designer is having the ability to put the user and their experience at the heart of design, layout and navigation of a website. They must be aware of the business goals, what the client wants to achieve from the website and of course what the user goals are.A concept or idea is essential along with an understanding of how to apply the creative look and feel, understand that content is master of the universe, know your target audience is absolute and that attention to detail is everything.

Finally they must remember that websites are now used across a variety of platforms - tablets, smartphones etc.

Matt Spencer, 3mil – London, United Kingdom


Written by Kevin Howarth on October 21, 2011


Add A Comment

Hi there, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one
and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam comments?
If so how do you reduce it, any plugin or anything you can recommend?
I get so much lately it's driving me crazy so any assistance is very much appreciated.

@Alan -- Agree. Motion graphics are a must in any interactive designer's toolbox.
@Jon -- Good points. Be able to work in multiple styles, understand the clients vision and collaborate are all key.

Jon says:

A good designer is open to outside opinions and can work off of someone else's direction. The ability to work outside their confort zone and rely on design principles and not just techniques that they have engrained into their muscle memory.

Alan says:

I think today's great user experience designers are incorporating much more animation to their web site and mobile app interactions. Simple transitions (as long as they are snappy and quick to load) add a new level of visual organization to any interactive production.

Tyler says:

The force...


Christie says:

...with five monitors and a track pad

Jenn says:

Mac Book Pro

Stephanie says:

Man Cardigans

Calvin J. says:

Skinny jeans.

Kimm says:

Honda Element.


Written by
Kevin Howarth