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“Of course, we can do spare and minimalist, but not on your budget.”

Clarity in website development is sometimes perceived to be in opposition to creativity, but it doesn’t have to be. A good designer, whether of websites or in another design field, is charged with reconciling this tension: be distinctive, but also be clear and useful.

My all-time favorite design cartoon ran in the New Yorker almost 20 years ago. Its tongue-in-cheek message: it takes great skill to make a spare, clear, inspiring design. . . and that combination is worth paying for.There’s such a subtle line between clean/simple/beautiful/intuitive and stripped-down/lazy/cookie-cutter and it takes experience and skill to know that line and stay firmly on the right side. Great responsive website design often asks this question: what’s the absolute minimum I can show and still accomplish all my goals: function, brand identity, results. Think of how Steve Jobs made it imperative, from the very beginning of the design process, that the iPhone UI absolutely must be controlled by a single round button.

My all-time favorite design cartoon ran in the New Yorker almost 20 years ago. Its tongue-in-cheek message: it takes great skill to make a spare, clear, inspiring design. . . and that combination is worth paying for.

Clarity in design often goes hand in hand with clean beautiful type, balanced use of color, and a knowledge and appreciation of best practices in layouts. With widespread use of the web more than twenty years old, a powerful set of visual contentions has evolved that make websites clear and easy to use. We don’t always have to obey every single one of these conventions, but knowing why they exist and how they make a website more effective is essential. . . you can’t break the rules without first knowing what’s at stake.

Our clients consistently tell us that although we offer to build exactly what they say they want, we often make suggestions for alternatives that retain the spirit of their original vision, but ultimately made the site more intuitive and usable for its visitors and customers.

Clarity in the Planning/Design/Development Process

As I finish this article, I realize that it only describes clarity in website design from the visitor’s perspective. It occurs to me that in a feedback survey of past clients, many of them commented on the clarity of project management at tuman.design and the ease with which they could follow the steps needed to plan and complete their projects. When one client used the phrase “Tumanian checklist” I realized that the order and clarity of my communications with them were both unusual and appreciated. Because this particular client is a serial entrepreneur, with a software background but also experience in many other businesses, I valued the feedback, and I include it here in case it’s a trait other prospective clients value as well.

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