What is web design, really? Is it important in today’s digital landscape? Isn’t it just another term for web development? With all of these questions swirling around, it’s no wonder why confusion and misunderstandings can occur.
Web design is the practice of creating a website in a strategic and aesthetically pleasing way. If you want to learn more, this comprehensive guide is for you!
Introduction To Web Design
Have you ever clicked on a website and got the feeling that something wasn’t quite right? It might have been the colour scheme or perhaps the layout of the content that felt a little off. In today’s digital landscape, viewers can immediately see and sense the difference between a professional and an amateur website. If the website is not up to standard, a viewer will leave the website faster than you can say ‘web design’.
Interestingly enough, an article published by Entrepreneur states that it takes about 50 milliseconds (or less) for people to decide whether they want to stay or leave the website. This is not a lot of time to make an impression, and the website must look professional in order for viewers to stay.
So how do you make a website look professional? Through website design.
What Is Web Design?
Web design is the art of planning, strategising, and creating content on a website so that it looks pleasing to the eye. It’s also more than just a pretty design. An effective design will seamlessly direct viewers toward the primary goal of the website, whether it be to purchase an item, download a document, or learn more about a particular topic. Web designers achieve this by collaborating with elements such as user experience, SEO optimisation, content writing, and more.
It is also important to note that web design and web development are not the same. Although they are closely related and often used interchangeably, web design is the more creative aspect that focuses on how a website looks and feels. In contrast, web development is the functionality that is coded behind the scenes to bring the design to life.
With a clear understanding of this term, let’s move on to the elements.
Web Design Elements
In web design, there are certain elements that web designers should focus on to ensure that the website is created in a professional way and viewers can easily navigate through it. Below are some of the main elements:
A website’s colour scheme is essential to create an aesthetic that resonates with viewers. It should be carefully chosen so that it reflects the purpose of the website and its message. For example, if you visit a spa’s website, you would expect to see a colour scheme that is calming and serene such as white, pale blues and greens. Similarly, if you visit a gaming website, you would expect brighter and more vibrant colours, such as neon pinks and blues.
If you open a website and find it difficult to read the content due to poor typography, chances are you won’t stay on the website for long. This is why typography is an important element. The typeface, size, colour, height and shape all form part of creating an effective typography style for a website.
Word of Learning once wrote in an article that: “90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed in the brain at 60,000 times the speed of text.” This is why imagery plays an important role in the design of a website. Images should be of high quality and unique. An unspoken rule of thumb is to avoid stock images, as this showcases a lack of creativity and laziness.
An unorganised and cluttered website is a nightmare for users and can lead to confusion, frustration and quick exits. This is why a good design should ensure that the website's layout is clean, simple and streamlined, with an integrated navigation bar that allows users to easily access different pages.
With these elements in mind, web designers can apply principles that guide them in their design.
Principles of Web Design
Principles in web design guide designers in creating an effective and aesthetically pleasing website. The following principles are key considerations when designing a website:
“The secret to life is finding the right balance in everything you do - anonymous.” A famous quote that everyone has heard of, but how does it relate to web design? The secret to an excellent website is finding a balance between elements. This can range from contrast in visuals to whitespace, colour combination, sizes of typography, images, and the list goes on. Without the right balance, a website can be chaotic and unappealing.
Contrast is about making elements stand out against each other. No one wants to look at a homepage where the text and the background colour are both white. Contrast helps draw attention to the content and creates a visually appealing website. In terms of the design of a website, this can mean using contrasting font combinations such as size, weight and colour.
It is essential for web designers to ensure consistency throughout the website. From the navigation layout to typography, there should be a uniform style implemented. This helps users navigate the website easily because they don’t have to adjust to different design elements.
Well-designed websites emphasise the most important elements to draw attention to them. An e-commerce website would want to emphasise calls-to-action such as “Add to cart” or “Subscribe”, whereas a blog website would want to emphasise its main content. Emphasis can be done through the use of size, colour, or whitespace.
All for one or none for all - unity is a concept that web designers should always keep in mind. Each element on the website should connect with each other to create a seamless user experience. This is crucial for the website to look like a unified whole rather than scattered pieces of design.
With the elements used in the principles of design, you might be wondering how web designers put them into practice. Read on to learn about the tools that web designers use to bring life to the virtual world.
Web Design Tools
Accountants use calculators, writers use pens, and web designers have specific tools for their craft. These are examples of tools used:
Digital marketers, teachers, entrepreneurs and web designers have made use of Canva for graphic design. This online editor has a vast library of templates, images, illustrations and elements to choose from.
Adobe Creative Suite:
This is a popular choice amongst web designers. Adobe Creative Suite consists of programs such as Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. These programs offer a variety of design solutions for web-related projects.
WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS). It is not only popular among web developers but web designers as well. On this system, users can create a website and manage its content without needing to know any coding.
Web designers incorporate important elements, follow guided principles and use these tools to craft good websites. But why is it important to design good websites?
The Importance Of Web Design
Web design plays a vital role in different areas of the digital world. It ties into user experience, SEO marketing and branding strategies.
As previously mentioned, the design helps create a user-friendly environment, which is important for the success of any website. Websites need to be designed in a way that allows visitors to easily navigate and find what they are looking for. The design should also be aesthetically pleasing so that visitors stay longer on the website.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a key component for website success. It helps a website rank higher in SERPs (search engine result pages) and gets more relevant organic traffic. Website design plays a crucial role in this. The website needs to have a good structure, as well as an SEO-friendly design.
Website design is also important to help build a strong brand online. Usually, the first impression people get from a company is through their website. The design should reflect the company’s values and be in line with the brand’s identity.
From these different areas, you can clearly see why an excellent design is essential. If you succeed in them, it will lead you to more conversions and, in the long run, success.
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In this comprehensive guide, you’ve read about what web design is, the elements and principles, the tools that web designers use, and why it is so important. It has a huge impact on user experience, SEO marketing and branding strategies.
Frequently Asked Questions About Web Design
What is the difference between web design and web development?
While web design focuses on the aesthetic and usability aspects of a website, web development involves bringing those designs to life through coding.
What are the main elements of web design?
The key elements of web design include layout, colour scheme, typography, graphics, and content. Together, these contribute to the functionality and user experience of a website.
Why is website design important for my business?
Web design plays a crucial role in your online presence. A well-designed website can attract more customers, improve user engagement, and boost your brand's reputation.
What are the current trends in web design?
Web design trends can vary, but they currently include responsive design, minimalist layouts, dark mode, micro-animations, and AI-powered chatbots, among others.
How can I learn website design?
There are numerous resources available to learn web design, from online courses and tutorials to books and blogs. Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and Codecademy offer comprehensive courses in web design.
What tools do professional web designers use?
What is responsive website design?
Responsive web design is an approach where a website is designed to respond or adapt to different screen sizes, ensuring a good viewing experience across a wide range of devices, from desktop computers to mobile phones.