Earlier this week, BusinessWeek rounded up a smattering of web experts to compose the 10 Commandments of Web Design of 2008.
With help from a variety of sources, including Steven Heller, co-chairman, MFA Design program, School of Visual Arts, Don Norman, co-founder, Nielsen Norman Group and Martin Wattenberg, founding manager and IBM Visual Communication Lab, a heavenly list of do's and don'ts was compiled.
The commandments include traditional favorites like Thou shalt not abuse Flash (no. 1) as well as the smug, Thou shalt not name your Web 2.0 company with an unnecessary surplus or dearth of vowels (no. 5). Yet, the list offers many a golden rule about content, including, Thou shalt not hide content (no. 2), Thou shalt not clutter (no.3) and Thou shalt make content king (no. 10).
In addition to these content-centered laws of web design, a few commandments highlighted the importance of immersive experiences (no. 7) and the promotion of social networking (no.8), as well of the integration of proven technologies (no. 9).
Certainly Mr. Norman nor the other experts will come beating down your door if you break a commandment or two, as even they admit that "assessing web design is no exact science," but inevitably your users will notice if your design is less than divine.
The panel of experts also compiled a list of the worst and best designed websites. While some sites end up listed on both, it's clear that they favored sites that engaged the user, offered a well-organized site architecture and a clean design. You can even cast your vote for the judges choices.
In the end, designers don't need commandments to design good web sites. Ultimately what they need are the tools to evaluate their design and the will to continually evolve their site so that it meets the needs of their users. Incidentally, it's just that these commandments help you to do both.