When we think of iconic designs, our minds might jump to famous fashions, architecture and technology innovations, but it’s not often we’d consider a website as sitting alongside such creations.
But perhaps we should, as having a high-quality design is as essential to a website as anything else. This has now been recognised by the UK’s Design Museum, which has awarded its Design of the Year 2013 award to a website run by the country’s government.
Fighting off the competition
The gov.uk site, which also picked up the Digital category award, fought off other category winners including the Shard skyscraper in central London and the petal-inspired cauldron that held the Olympic flame throughout last year’s Games.
Previous winners of the Design Award include the London 2012 Olympic Torch, a low-energy light bulb and an iconic poster of Barack Obama, which highlights the diversity of the prize. The jury unanimously picked the website for its understated yet effective design that makes the user experience simpler, clearer and faster.
Lessons for other sites
Therefore, other websites around the world that are looking to improve their user experience may like to look at gov.uk for inspiration. A strong focus on web design is essential, as websites that are complex, difficult to navigate or slow to retrieve information from web servers will frustrate users and ensure they don’t return for a second visit.
The Guardian reported the site is designed around ten basic principles, which may be something all website owners should bear in mind. These include starting with the user’s needs, not the organisation’s, providing a consistent but not uniform experience throughout and doing more with less.
Keeping it simple
Head of design at the Government Digital Service Ben Terrett explained casual visitors may not immediately notice the design of the site, which is precisely the point. He said the aim of the project was to strip away unnecessary features and make it as intuitive to use as possible.
With recognition of the importance of website design likely to be raised by gov.uk’s success, firms may therefore need to think carefully about what they need to do to provide the most compelling experience to users.