Recently archaeologists discovered the following news story:

Dateline 1501
da Vinci Delays “Mona Lisa” Again

Leonardo da Vinci, purported artist of Venice, has delayed
his project “Mona Lisa” due to lack of beautiful and
graceful frames. Desiring a one-of-a-kind frame for his
“upcoming masterpiece”, the artist requires the grain, texture
and construction of the frame be absolutely perfect. This is
the fourth time the project has been delayed due to lack
of suitable frames.

Ridiculous, right? The frame is not the art, it simply holds the art so we can marvel at the artist’s true work. We all know the painting is the important thing.

Web design is merely a frame. It holds what is the most important thing on the Internet … your content. The most beautiful web design on earth won’t make up for bad content, so focus on that. It’s what Google, Bing and all the rest of the search engines index. It is what people want when they come to a website. Unless you’re an artist or web designer you don’t even notice design when you surf the web. Everyone knows Amazon, and everyone goes there. Quick, do you remember the design of the site? How much white space is on a page? If the border color matches the footer color?

Here’s the thing about web design: you should not even notice it. It should complement your content. Like a frame, it can’t be flashy or get in the way and distract from the painting your customer is seeking.

Web design has some practical uses too, and those seeking the perfect design often end up violating those design standards. Just as lighting and perspective are important in a painting, formatting your content is very important.

One of the most irritating things for me is to see a design “fad” take root and make me leave sites early. One such fad today is very light text, often a very light grey on a white background. It’s hard to read. I actually use a browser plugin in Chrome to increase the darkness of the fonts on the page. One of the first things I see requested is to darken the text. This too will pass, as Google is already making noise that it will consider sites that adopt minimum contrast levels as better choices for search results. When Google speaks, web site owners listen (even if their designers do not).

HOSTkabob, my boutique hosting company, uses Elegant Themes for most designs, and I include the use of the theme in the hosting price. They have adopted the modern style, but it’s easy enough to modify the text color to black so mere mortals can read it. Their themes do focus on the content, and I like them for that.

When looking at your web site, remember it is not the design that sells, but the content. You don’t buy the painting for the frame. Focus on the content. Once you have that, finding the right “frame” for it is easy.