You might have heard the phrase “web design is 95% typography.” This comes from a famous article written back in 1996 by Oliver Reichenstein. His premise was simple: because 95% of all web content is the written word, typography is going to be the most important factor of web design.
Is it true? Not quite; not anymore. While typography — the appearance and placement of text — is certainly an important aspect of design, it’s hardly the only thing influencing click-throughs, bounce rates, and actual sales. Although text might take up a lot of visual space by percentages, things like speed, navigability, and mobile compatibility are incredibly important, even if they don’t take up literal web space the way text does.
It’s easy to look at the information provided to us about web design, and misinterpret it to mean something other than what it does. So, no, web design is not 95% typography — not even close. Here are three other common misinterpretations, as well as the full story behind them.
1. “Custom web designers are able to overprice because nobody understands what they’re doing; most college students can do what they do, for less.”
Although this is a commonly believed myth that results in more than a few insults aimed at custom web designers, the opposite is more true than not. Ten years ago, when there were relatively few companies online, it might have given you a competitive edge to simply have an online presence, regardless of your website’s quality.
Today, though, the internet is crowded with tons of companies selling the same thing. Great custom web page design makes people want to come to your site; it makes them click through and commit to purchases. Given the widespread nature of this belief about custom web designers, though, perhaps it’s not surprising that 25% of small businesses say they don’t show up in search results at all.
2. “Coding for one website is coding for all websites.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t true, and if you want your website to really succeed, you’ll need to invest in responsive web design, or coding for a website that will show up the same way in every browser, regardless of what device or screen size people are using. This is especially important for mobile devices, which are expected to overtake desktops as the dominant internet platform in 2014. Responsive web design means that the custom web design company will code for multiple platforms at once.
3. “A Flash intro draws people into your website and is great for relaying a message.”
Flash has had its day, but like Myspace, it’s being shown the door gently but firmly. Apple more or less killed Flash when it made the choice not to support it on iPhones and iPads, and beyond that, Flash tends to load more slowly for any device. Since about 50% of web users tend to abandon sites that don’t load within the first three seconds, it might be time to eliminate Flash animation introductions and, instead, concentrate on creating an easy-to-navigate front page that effectively conveys your message and connects to your audience.
Do you plan on paying for custom web design services? Let us know in the comments.