Washington D.C. Design Firms Surveyed About Designing the Perfect Website


Marketing design
Web designers are always looking for fresh insights and leads on how to connect to a web-hungry populace. Last week, Washington Business Journal Research Director Carolyn M. Proctor polled eight Washington D.C. website designers on the ins and outs of building a website. The responses of these leading experts of their field illustrate the need for user-friendly services, expansion into mobile apps, and adding heart to digital content.

Many of those polled were firm believers in expanding into mobile apps and making websites mobile-friendly. For example, Shay Onorio, President of Red Thinking, is a staunch supporter of mobile app designs.

“Design with mobile in mind as more and more users will come to your site via a mobile device,” Onorio said. “Sites used to be designed with browsers in mind ­— now they are done with devices in mind.”

Kent Marsh, a Senior Information Architect at New Signature, echos Onorio’s suggestion, believing that mobile access to websites will only go up.

“[Make it] work on any device,” he said. “Responsive and adaptive design will continue to advance throughout 2015 and beyond with the further evolution of flexible grids and adaptable media.”

Another aspect of web design that is falling out of favor? Stock imaging. Many designers expressed contempt for using stock images and photography, believing them to be too conventional and stale for an increasingly media-savvy public.

“Don’t use stock photography unless you want to look like everyone else,” said Jason Stoner of MetroStar Systems. “All your visuals should connect and reflect back to your brand.”

Layla Masri, President of Bean Creative, emphasized readability and layout. In particular, a website’s typography will make or break a user’s experience. Using several different interfaces and typefaces, among other features, will impress the user.

“Emphasize user experience with good typography,” she said, “leveraging the increasing number of Web-specific typefaces and type kits, like Google Web fonts, Adobe Typekit, etc.”

There are many technical issues at play when constructing a website. However, these analysts repeat the notion that a website needs not only good technical features, it needs — for lack of a better word — soul.

“Tell stories,” said Lucinda Crabtree, President of Crabtree and Co. “Websites that used to be just overstuffed file cabinets with every possible scrap of data now tell stories; they show change, describe a journey, reach conclusions.”

A common suggestion made by those polled that in order to tell stories, web designers must use the valuable skill of empathy to reach a wider audience.  In addition to D.C. experts, there are other designers throughout the country who have more to contribute — as well as critique.


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