April 25, 2014
Every once in a while I hear someone complain about the visual homogenization of the web, and front-end frameworks often get the brunt of the attack. This visual sameness isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Visual design is one of the easiest parts of web design to get right. Beautiful looking sites are often perceived as being easier to use, but that’s a low hurdle to clear. Using clean typography, a good color palette, solid visual hierarchy, and consistency will get you most of the way there.
The hardest part of visual design is stakeholder buy-in. It’s easily the most noticeable part of a design, and it’s one that people will certainly have opinions about — whether or not they understand typography, gestalt, or color psychology. If you’re the one calling the shots, then you’ve got it easy.
Visual design is a bike shed. User experience is a nuclear reactor.
When building something new, frameworks can help settle arguments over visual details. And, if you don’t have a background in design, using a framework can help you achieve a certain baseline of visual polish. Frameworks get you started and create well-defined systems to customize and build upon while you validate your ideas.
The visual aspects of web design are extremely important. If you’ve got the time and resources, by all means, sweat the details. But before you do, make sure your site works. Time spent deliberating visual design could be better spent conducting research with your users. A beautiful site that doesn’t align with mental models isn’t worth much to your business.