The High Price of Poor Design

October 27, 2010

At Design Principles, our crew is young, smart and funny, and it leads to some priceless “overheards” during the day. As this is a family-friendly blog, some of them aren’t suitable for sharing, but one that struck me yesterday merits talking about — it’s the high price of poor design.

We’re always being contacted by companies that are looking to improve or upgrade their corporate image, and many of the jobs we secure. But, like any company, there are some clients that decide to go elsewhere. Try as we might, we can’t get every job, of course. We try to keep tabs on those companies to see where they eventually end up and to have a look at the finished work that we lost out on. There are some that come out nice, but there are some that put big question marks over our heads.

The question marks arise when we visit a website (like we did yesterday) and see a horrible morass of bad design choices, stretched graphics and poor coding practices. While the website in question was redone, it was no improvement over where the company stood a year ago when they came to us for an estimate. Therein lies the hidden cost of poor design.

The new website is probably hurting the company more than helping. The design features blurry images, graphics that are stretched or squished out of proportion, poor alignment of elements —all of which will hurt the company’s credibility and undermine the sense of trust that they’re trying to build with their visitors.

The purpose of a quality design is to engender a feeling of trust and reliability in your company and its brand —which is absolutely critical to your interaction and first impression with your site’s visitors. Your company’s website is its public face on the Internet, and hundreds or thousands of people each month will look at it and make a snap decision and judgment on the kind of company you are. If you blow that opportunity, there’s little chance you’ll be able to get them to take a second look.

Beyond even the outward appearance of a website is the quality of the construction that lies beneath the surface. Just as in home improvement, you can find all levels of quality, from shoddy construction to high-end craftsmanship. The website in question used seriously outdated techniques which will hurt their find-ability with the search engines, accessibility with handicapped visitors, and utility with customers that are working with a mobile device (like a cell phone) or that have JavaScript turned off. Factors like these are completely hidden from the view of the company’s owner, and certainly aren’t mentioned by the designer that created it.

Not only did the company have to pay out money to a web designer for the work that was performed, it will cost them business in the long run, and then they’ll need to pay again to have the site redesigned to correct these problems.

Posted in Business

Mike Cronin

The Author: Mike Cronin

With over twenty years of web design and programming experience, Mike leads our Internet Services Division. His expertise in motivating our team of solution-minded thinkers has resulted in the development of award-winning, standards-based, findable and inherently usable websites.

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