‘Websites Shouldn’t Shout, They Should Serve’ – This Award-winning Web Designer Tells Us Why
The Wix Partner Awards shines a light on Glasgow-based designer Craig Hausman who shares his inspiration, advice and the secret to blazing a trail in the digital space.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. While it’s a statement most often associated with Renaissance art and innovation, it can just as easily be applied to modern design and marketing.
When considering website design for brands, dynamic and exciting visuals tend to grab our attention. But often, simple and refined aesthetics that deliver a message with clarity and purpose yield the best results.
Striking a successful balance can present a dilemma for businesses, especially when there’s a goal to marry clear and compelling branding with a user-friendly experience.
This more refined approach to design lends itself well to mobile too, and with 62% of websites now accessed through handheld devices, it’s best practice for brands to see less as more, and ensure that their sites are clear in their messaging, responsive and perform well in search engine optimization (SEO).
One web professional doing exactly this for clients is Glasgow-based Craig Hausman, creative director and founder of Hausman Graphics. This month, Hausman earned the Wix Partner Award for superior functionality. We caught up with him to hear about the kind of design work that helped him secure the accolade.
Clarity in communication
Explaining his approach, Hausman says: “For me, it’s about whatever maximizes the goal of clarity of communication. That’s the most important part of web design – communicating the business, the idea, the product, whatever it is. And so, how do you achieve that? Through clean lines and a sparse page, for example.”
Having completed his first website on Wix as part of a university assignment, Hausman launched his own design business with these principles at its core. He now builds exclusively on Wix for clients around the world, including a recent project for Tokyo-based walking tour operator Tokyo Localized.
Hausman’s work for Tokyo Localized was recognized with a recent Wix Partner Award for superior functionality, highlighting his enthusiasm for projects where he’s able to refresh existing websites and to show clients the fruits of his work through an “old” versus “new” reveal. He says: “I love the turnaround and the feedback from the client when they see what they had to what they have now. It’s really rewarding.”
Tokyo Localized’s original site was very basic, and ranked only on page six of Google for walking tours in Tokyo. Hausman’s main challenge was to make the site less busy. He explains: “There was far too much happening on the site. So I said, ‘we really need to simplify this. We need to make this all about walking tours. We need to align ourselves with what competitors are doing, but do it better.’ It was all about how we presented the information in a very clean and accessible way.”
Hausman made the site visually striking with digestible content framed by white space, and a strong brand identity brought to life by a newly designed logo. He accentuated the most important detail about the business, introduced themed and interactive imagery, original video, and used code to create a database for the tour booking page, all providing a seamless experience for users.
The final result is a testament to Hausman’s design philosophy and his company’s tagline: “clean, simple and sophisticated”. This approach, which helped Tokyo Localized rank first on Google for ‘Tokyo walking tours’, has been adopted by larger brands too in their web designs. For instance, Expedia, another brand which Hausman has advised, refreshed its 70 websites and mobile app in 2021. The main focus, according to the online travel company, was to provide “a clear and simple layout” that emphasized product features for users.
The principles of simplicity
Based on his own vision and portfolio of work, which also includes Flockhart Architects and Mersi Solutions, Hausman has some clear ideas on how brands and their designers can embrace the principles of simplicity: “There’s not a lot of paraphernalia, not too many animations. Everything’s very subtle. The color scheme is very muted because generally, pictures do the talking, so you don’t want any conflict.”
Hausman also says that a “good, simple typographic hierarchy” is important in terms of complementing the aesthetics of the websites. He adds: “There’s nothing about my sites that shout at you. You just want to communicate the central part of the business.”
Designers are being empowered to take approaches like this by clients who are, in general, better educated and aware of issues such as the importance of mobile responsiveness, loading speeds, and a desire to replace stock imagery with vector graphics. This increased sophistication on the brand side stems from the wide availability of resourceful content online, and Hausman expects his and other agencies to see this trend continue for the foreseeable future.
Positive progress on the client side can be reciprocated by agencies getting to know the client and their needs in greater detail. As Hausman puts it: “Sure, you want a good portfolio, but they want business. That’s what I’ve always tried to keep in my mind with my work.”
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