Once upon a time, information was almost universally retrieved on paper. When an artisan was required, the householder reached for the Yellow Pages or other hefty directory. Wanting to know the origins of any phenomenon, the family with a set of encyclopedias was to be envied. Not sure where one’s vacation destination was located, a large atlas needed to be consulted in a library, its well-thumbed pages testifying to the numbers of other geographically challenged browsers. Non-fiction bookshelves teemed with tomes on every topic and publishers couldn’t keep up with the demand for updated re-prints.
Those reference resources all took up so much space and required so much time. Slimming them down became technology’s big challenge. Microfiche (basically film carrying text and pictures reduced to microscopic size) and next the revolutionary CD-Rom in turn transformed our world. But it was of course the advent of the World Wide Web that propelled us out of the age of snail’s pace information retrieval. A distinct consequence has been educational benefits for people of all ages who have regular access to internet connections.
Today, not only is information available on every last thing, the presentation of that information has become a top priority. Far outstripping the old bookbinder’s dilemma of how to make the material tempting to the reader are the multifarious decisions of the web designer.
Given the abundance of rivals no matter what the niche the website occupies, slick, professional-looking design is key. To accompanying the text websites require the following features: images, animation, video and audio elements.
Designers need to take into consideration the nature of the information provided, the necessity of making navigation and the interface easy to use. Importantly, a consistent style should prevail and the entire website should have a logical structure. As the public have become used to receiving their information in this no longer new way, expectations have steadily risen, and the challenges for designers continue to be suitably demanding.