What Is Web Design? From A Non-Designer’s Perspective
Medium is currently valued at $600 million, and has been able to raise $134 million. How is that possible? Let me explain – it is true that Medium is nothing but a blogging platform. It’s a breeding ground for lots of articles. However, the surprising thing is that it has managed to appeal to most of its users in a magnificent way. Most Medium fans cannot do without the platform because of its scintillating user experience. Therefore, it suffices to say that Medium is what it is today because its owners opted for an amazing design. A website’s appearance has a way of impacting its visitors. Visitors are bound to spend more time on such websites and it will positively impact the website’s reputation. So, are you still interested in knowing what is web design? Do you want to know the job of a web designer?
If you fit the above description, then you would find this post extremely helpful. To understand what web designers do, you need to first understand in-depth what is web design.
Web Design Definition
Web design has to do with how a website is created. Whether it is a blog or an ecommerce platform, anything that relates to how a website looks is categorized as web design. Before you can have a website designed, you need to learn how to use programming languages, such as:
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) – HTML tags are popularly used by web developers to structure the way a website looks. They implement specific tags like <title>, <head>, and <br> for positioning certain design elements in various sections of the webpage. You cannot see these tags when you look at the website. That is why these tags are used at the back-end.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS): The function of CSS codes is for tweaking the way the website should appear. It can be used for changing fonts, HTML tag sizes, and colors. This enables you to alter the appearance of your website. This can be noticed from the front-end of the site.
It may not have occurred to you that there is a thin line between content marketing and some aspects of web design. The distinction is actually blurred when it comes to how you make your layouts come alive. Content marketing also has some commonalities with graphic design.
What is web design and web development?
These two terms are often misconstrued. The job of a web designer is to create the site’s visual appearance. Web designers are responsible for how the site looks. Web developers, on the other hand, code the site. They structure the site into how it would look like.
In some companies, you can find web designers who function as web developer and vice versa. This is the reason web designers are expected to build their knowledge on CSS and HTML if they want their career to blossom in this industry.
What Web Designers Do?
What will a normal day look like for a web designer? We will take a look at that interesting question below. Web designers can take on the following tasks:
Researching the website of a competitor
Using programming language to build the website
Developing wireframes that will be used for key pages (a good example is homepage)
Ensuring design elements are optimized for SEO
Understanding user experience or how the site is used by visitors.
Designers are expected to have a good grasp of what is web design. Also, they need soft skills like:
The ability to work with others: As an employee of a big firm, you stand the chance of collaborating with a team of social media, SEO, graphic design, or web developers.
Problem solving: Website codes are likely going to run into their thousands, tens of thousands, or much more. A single mistake could break an entire website. Good web designers must be good at fixing problems in the shortest possible time.
Creativity: There are hundreds of millions of sites in the world today. The only way you can make your website unique from the lot is when you infuse creativity into what you are doing.
If you are reading this at the early stage of life or career, you can apply for a degree in Computer Science. Such programs help you learn the fundamental coding languages regarding how websites function.
Better still, you can take advantage of many online courses to learn about programming languages. With such knowledge, you can develop your own website.
What Makes a Good Web Design?
HTML can be used by anyone for creating basic websites. Creating a web design today has even become easier because there are more than enough site builders that can offer you customizable templates for free. However, using templates may not be the wisest thing to do.
A professional designer at Web Weavers, Paul, made the statement below:
“Getting inspired by others is not something you should be afraid of. New designers are always in the habit of trying to do something that has never been done. However, you should not be scared to tailor your designs around things that work. So long as your design is not completely crazy, don’t be afraid to give it a try.”
There are specific design principles that successful websites are built on. Such principles may not be adhered to by those free design templates. It is important that you are aware of such design principles like
Are you aware that in certain climes it is illegal to operate sites that cannot be accessed? Everyone should be given the chance to freely access your website, regardless of their gender, disability, or age. That is why your website cannot afford to be falling short in user-friendliness.
Assuming you have done a rough sketch of your site design, but you forgot to include alt text as part of your images. That single mistake, that looks negligible, can make it difficult for people who are challenged visually to access the site.
Having said that, usability goes beyond the content that can be accessed on your website. It is something that also applies to the simplicity with which they access such content.
For instance, let’s assume you did a design that has small buttons for a mobile screen. That has broken the rule of user-friendliness since it is a lot difficult to click small buttons when you are using a mobile screen.
To overcome this challenge, change the button proportion. That way, users who are accessing your website via mobile devices won’t have to struggle to access your site. Also, that will improve the design of your user experience.
Speaking of people who access sites with mobile devices, 2019 remains a remarkable year that we will not forget in a hurry. That is because that marked the first time the greatest number of users online came from mobile devices. They were more than those who accessed the web through desktops. As much as 63% of all the websites were accessed by mobile devices. That has marked a turning point for the website business.
A responsive web design is one of the things you should have in your mind when creating your site. Responsive web designs actually employ coding to enable design elements adjust themselves to fit any device from which they are being consumed.
For instance, the desktop version of your website most likely would contain a horizontal navigation menu. However, when it renders on mobile devices, it will be hard for users to see the horizontal navigation bar the way it is on the desktop version. What responsive design does is that it will change the navbar to a dropdown anytime the page is rendered on a smartphone.
Google research states that:
Over 50% of people who access websites with mobile devices tend to abandon the page when the page takes more than 3s to load.
As the time it takes for a page to load increases from 1s to 10s, the bounce rate for a visitor that uses a mobile device increases by more than 100%.
If people cannot access your site, how do you intend to encourage them to check out all the things you have on the site. Or how do you tell them to buy what you are selling if it is an ecommerce site? That is why your website must not take time to load.
There are several tools like GTMetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights you can use to evaluate your website speed. Such tools will indicate how much time passes before a web page loads up. They will also offer you some suggestions on adjustments you can make to enable your site load up much faster. The recommendations will range from minifying the codes to optimizing images on the site.
Aligns with your brand
As discussed above, you can use already-made templates with their own designs to create your site. However, there is a serious problem with that approach? What is the issue? There is a good chance that those templates may not have designs that fit your brand. So, the only way to make the site look the part of your brand is to carry on with as many customizations as possible.
A potential customer can get a wrong, first-time impression by merely looking at how your company website is branded. If there is no consistency in the branding, you may end up losing as much as 20% of what you are supposed to earn through that site.
Therefore, whenever we discuss what is web design, the issue of consistent branding across all the pages on a website must always come up.
The visual elements that make up your design are supposed to align with your style or brand. That will include the following:
Typography: Which fonts have you used in your letterheads, business cards, or marketing materials? The same font sizes and font style are what you should apply in your website design.
Brand message: Your branding has to be same across all the available channels. As a web designer, you should know that. For instance, your brand message, like mission statement ought to have a consistent branding.
Color schemes: It will amaze you to learn that brand colors help to improve recognition by more than eighty percent. You need the set of colors you used for your company profiles. Those same colors should be used on the site.
There is a common link between the last four components discussed about good site designs. The link is that they all impact SEO or Search Engine Optimization. Google and other search engines use user experience for their algorithm. The objective is to show the websites with the best quality and most relevant content in line with the searched query. This is judged based on a number of metrics like
Pages per session
Time on a page
Google has stated on several occasions that page loading speeds make up an important part of ranking factor, particularly on mobile. Remember the mobile-first indexing introduced by Google? They first consider how a site is rendered on a mobile screen not a desktop, as that is what determines its ranking in the search results.
In a nut shell, if your site is not user-friendly, mobile-friendly, or accessible, it will not be displayed as the top sites anytime users search for what you are doing, regardless of the site’s appearance.
How Do I Begin My First Web Design?
To understand what web design is, you should know the design process all sites should follow when developing a brand-new site. Here are seven steps to see you through on your first website design;
Create your design brief: That will comprise essential information about your site design, which includes the target audience, CMS, and deadline.
What is your design system like: Figure out how your designs can create patterns that your users will easily learn?
You need a sitemap: Employ XML Sitemap and other tools to see your site hierarchy. Group pages that are similar and create wireframes for all of them.
Example content is necessary: Start with test content to see how they will be formatted on your website.
Start work on your visual design: put your fonts, colors and every other design element needed. A mock-up of the site will give you a rough idea of what to expect.
Test the mock-up: Run specific tests to be sure your design can be understood by any group of people.
Test the live design in stages: Try to run split tests as that will help you evaluate your decisions.
Get the website you have always dreamed of
Obviously, a lot of energy and resources is put into a website design. When some people ask what web is design, it is actually more than they can imagine. You need to consider you’re branding, how the site renders on smartphones, and loading speeds, just to ensure Google and your customers are happy with you.
Do you feel overwhelmed by all what has been said here? Then take the load of your chest by reaching out to Web Weavers since we have professionals who can handle such responsibilities on your behalf.