Usability by Design

Amy Roberts

When designing, and creating space for content the writer’s primary objective is overall usability. A web designer has to be aware of all visual aspects in a document in order to accomplish the goals intended by the content. In a market where new ideas are constantly generated, designers still look for the most effective ways to achieve usability. When creating space for the web or many other forms of publication a designer has to decide what tools to rely on during production. This is where the debate of content versus design comes into play.

For years designers have relied on a word generating system called Lorem Ipsum to help create layouts for web pages. As they wait for writers to finish drafting the content for a page, they turn to Lorem Ipsum to create pig Latin text they can use in the meantime to fill in space where content will go eventually. This is considered a “pro-design” approach. The idea is that word generating systems help in the mock-up of a website’s space. Since the language is unreadable it does not distract from viewers inspecting the look and feel of a design. Previewers are then able to concentrate on the functionality of the web site. They see the colors, graphics, and font selections because they are not busy trying to read what is actually in the space.

One of the main arguments made by pro-design crowd is that content is hardly ever ready when they are tasked with creating the space. However, those on the other side of the debate counter that.

On the other hand, there are those designers who wish to eradicate the use of Lorem Ipsum. This side of the argument believes that content should be used instead when designing a website. They see the use of the content while designing will help navigate the development of the space as well as increase usability. Kyle Fielder, a web-designer and blogger, agrees that Lorem Ipsum creates confusion in the client and believes that “your content enhances your design.” He suggests designers tell their clients from the beginning they would require some copy of the content they are designing for, even a first draft will work. Rick Salboda, a website content writer for Webcopyplus, argues, “when design follows content creation, it reinforces the message, making it stronger and more direct. Specific pages can then be strategically structured to highlight and communicate key messages and focus on explicit tasks and goals.” Others on this side of the argument will also agree that first impressions are key and those are usually made by the website’s visual impact on the viewer.

Whether you agree content is supreme or design prevails in the battle between the two, make sure to understand both sides of the debate. Also, keep in mind the goal of any design, whether it be for web space or a newsletter, is to serve the reader.



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