In this article, you’ll learn all of the essentials of website design, along with a comparison of professional web designers and online website builders. Read on for our tips for starting out as a web designer.
What Exactly is Website Design?
To describe website design in short, website design is the process of laying out and producing websites. Designing a website includes varying degrees of content creation and graphic design. Today, there are many website builders and website hosting platforms to choose from.
There is a difference between web development and web design, although the two terms are almost interchangeable since they go hand in hand. Web design falls under web development: it refers to the aesthetic structure and user experience of the site. Web development is the process of making those designs into a live website that actually works.
As technology develops and trends come and go, the types of possible website designs keep expanding. When thinking of fundamental website designs, we can narrow them down to two main categories:
Static or Fixed Page Layout:
Static pages are designed for one screen size and not laid out for any other dimensions. This means they are not prepared to be viewed from smaller or larger devices. This interrupts the user’s ability to read your content. In 2020, you can expect mobile traffic to your website to keep growing, so a static page risks turning away potential customers.
The responsive design implements high-level adaptation. The page will look different depending on the size of different viewing devices for the best readability, as long as it is purposefully designed. This promotes user-friendly navigation and overall interaction. Styling a website for mobile can be tedious, as not every element cooperates as you might expect with built-in responsivity.
Under those subsets, the various types of web designs can be grouped based on function or purpose, like a personal portfolio or restaurant site.
What is the Importance of Web Design?
The importance of web design is prevalent in every aspect of a successful website. A designer needs to create multiple pages, organize a navigation menu, mock-up mobile versions, and update content as necessary. All of these decisions should be made viewer-centric and be based on the brand identity system to match the business tone and cater to the right audience.
Is there really a need for web designers anymore?
Absolutely! While tools are becoming increasingly accessible and easy for anyone to use, not everyone will know how to use them to cohesively represent a brand or best design a page for mobile viewing. Plus, there are dozens of details that comprise a fully-fledged site: SEO, blog updates, connecting social media, creating shop categories, and more.
Web designers are experienced in building layouts, formulating color schemes, and incorporating signature visual elements. They are responsible for the first impression of your brand, and what viewers actually see and interact with. If you’re a design-minded creative jumping into the world of web design, then kudos! If not, you’ll want to turn to a professional to get the job done properly.
Usually, web design services include custom designs, responsive layouts, search engine optimization, and analytics reporting. Designers and design companies use professional design software and content management systems for a beautiful, reliable, and dynamic product. Services provided also include some amount of site maintenance and even blog writing.
To find the right design company to create your website, you need to consider how your end result should look and what you will need it to do for your business. Then, you’ll have to find a company that is capable of handling those needs. Check out past and current clients of the design company as well as their personal portfolios. Be sure to look specifically for examples of businesses in similar industries as well as examples of brands that have similar personalities to yours.
The Benefits of Website Design
So what are the benefits of website design?
- A customized and professional result
- Mobile-compatible website
- More beautiful look
- Fast-loading images and pages
- Maintenance and updates, depending on your contract
- Reinforces respectable visual identity
- Search engine optimization
- Access to analytics and reporting results
The advantages of web designing are having control over the fine details and access to advanced functions and behind-the-scenes tools.
How to create an engaging website design
While there is a lot that goes into designing a website, you can start with a few core questions to help conceptualize your site:
- Who do you expect to use your website? Why?
- What information does your website need to provide to the viewer?
- How will you keep the user coming back to your website (rather than a competitor’s site or a web search)?
Beginners might start with a wireframe. After some research, create personas of fictional (but believable) customers. Then build a site map, either by hand or on design software. You can create a web by writing “Home page” in a bubble, then draw other necessary pages stemming off of that bubble, like “About Us” or “Contact”.
When you have the basic skeleton of your site, walk through it. Note what page will make you click something else, or if a page is a dead end.
Best tips for website design
Try some of the best tips for website design to get yours on the right track!
- Practice the principles of design. You will be working with the look and feel of the website, which both depend on fundamental aspects such as hierarchy and proportions.
- Most of your work will be done on the Internet, but for designing graphics and editing photos, you should have access to design software. The most popular programs are Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, but there are other alternatives out there as well.
- Become familiar with HTML and CSS. As a web designer, there will be situations where you need it to get the exact effect you want. Start with the basics and learn as you go along.
- Time management is a skill. You can use apps or calendars to help prioritize and record your projects as you make more and more pages.
- Research digital marketing and social media management. A website is just the beginning; budding businesses will further their reach substantially with a strong social media presence and paid advertisements. Your skills as a web designer are pertinent to these tasks as well!
- Research and remember search engine optimization. Using popular keywords and answering common questions will hook in visitors.
Common web design mistakes
Avoid the most common web design mistakes for a wholly successful site.
- Lack of Direction: You need a plan to get started. Organize all necessary elements before you start designing, and establish a hierarchy of information.
- Missing Social Media: Keep your customers connected! You can put linked icons to your different pages in subheaders, footers, or on a contact page.
- No Call to Action: In order to get your viewer to take action and stay interested in your site, make a clearly labeled button on every page. Actions can be as simple as “Read More” or lead to more complex functions, such as “Take Survey Now”.
- Low Quality or No Images: Always use high-quality, attention-grabbing photos. A site without images is boring and does not look professional.
- Boring, Bare Homepage: Get creative and make your homepage interesting. Animations, statistics, and videos are just a few ideas to enliven your front page and capture your audience.
- Crowding and Emptiness: Know how to engage white space. Content needs adequate line spacing to be easy to read, and long paragraphs are less appealing than small chunked text blocks. At the same time, empty pages look like mistakes. Find a balance between necessary information, engaging extra information, and impactful decorative elements.
- The “One and Done” approach: Technology is constantly changing, trends surprise us, and popular aesthetics morph over time. There is no excuse to leave your website behind! Populate it with new content, test it often, and revamp it occasionally.
- Disjointed navigation: Make it easy for visitors to maneuver your site. Your navigation bar or menu should be easy to understand and quick to find.
- Ignoring Mobile Devices: Adopt a “mobile-first” approach and be aware of various device dimensions.
What makes a great, professional website design?
A professional website design accomplishes two main goals: it furthers the business’s mission and it makes the viewer want to engage with the business. Focusing on clarity and user-friendliness will make your website successful.
Learning Web Design
To become a web designer, you’ll want to start by learning design basics. These include the principles of design and concepts like the importance of color and the effect of typography.
Designers must know the client’s overarching goals and establish a hierarchy of information to guide the structure of the whole site. As previously mentioned, a wireframe is the logical next step, followed by the design stage. Keep practicing with personal projects to build up your portfolio.
Wrapping Up Web Design
Clearly, web design and development is a complicated and demanding process. We hope you take these tips with you as you start out with designing websites—or that you’ll come to us to get your online presence started! Let us know your thoughts about web design.