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What Is Web Design?

18 April 2019

With the rise of the internet, having a good website is a necessity if you want your brand to succeed. A bad website will invariably hurt your brand. To that end, there has been a massive spike in the hiring of “web designers.” But what is web design, and what do web designers do?

Definition of Web Design

Web design, in a nutshell, is the process of collecting ideas and aesthetically arranging them on a website to entice viewers. A page’s web design is what creates the overall look and feel of the web page. Web designs consist in the planning and building of features of your site, from images to font to layout and to graphics. Web design is the first thing that a user notices and the main thing that keeps them interested and coming back to your site.

We design is different than web development. Web development involves the actual coding that makes the different elements of the site function properly on a computer. Web design is much more general and is focused on the general arrangement, layout, and visual appearance of the site. For example, coding a backend is part of web development while choosing a color palette and graphics for your site falls in the domain of web design. In other words, web design is about choosing the artistic elements of a site while web development is building the machinery to make that vision a reality. A good website requires both web design and web development, but they are distinct skill sets. 

A user experience developer (UX developer) is the one who makes your website more user-friendly. Generally, UX developing positions combine elements of web design and web development to make appealing websites that capture and keep user attention. 

Web design is also different than web hosting. Web hosting refers to how information related to your site is stored and accessed. For more information on web hosting, visit our web hosting blog and web hosting articles. 

Why Is Web Design Important?

Web design is important simply for the reason that it is the first thing users notice about your site and first impressions matter, especially on the internet. A solid web design tells users a few things about your brand: you take yourselves seriously, you are professional, and they can trust you. Having a poor web presence will really hold your brand back. 

Having a good web design can also increase your search results. Relevant keywords, SEO content, appropriate tags, and easily identifiable and accessible content all work to raise your rankings on various search engines which increases brand visibility. Having a subpar web design virtually ensures you will not make it high in the rankings. 

Elements of Web Design

Key visual elements of web design include:

  • Layout: The layout is the general appearance of the site, the way graphics, texts, and pictures are arranged. Good layout allows users to easily identify different parts of the site by maintaining balance, integrity, and consistency. 
  • Color: Choosing a good color scheme for your web page is important because color can elicit emotions in people and set a general feel and atmosphere. Picking an appropriate color scheme is good for expressing the personality of your brand.
  • Graphics: Graphics include any logos, pictures, animations, or icons on your website. Your choice of graphics is very important for web design as the placement, color, and content of graphics affect site performance and which features are easily identifiable by users. 
  • Font: Fonts are the way that typed text appears on your page. Fonts enhance your web design by making text pop and easily readable. Most browsers can only read a select few “web safe” fonts, so these are the ones your web designers are likely to work with. 
  • Content: Web content goes hand in hand with web design as quality content bolsters the message of the site through image and text. SEO optimized content that incorporates the relevant keywords also boosts your sites search engine rankings. 

Examples of Successful Web Design

While there is by no means an exhaustive list of web design resources that all successful web sites must have, there are a few uniting themes that seem to be present in the most successful ones. 

  • Clear, uncluttered layout. While it is not a bad thing to have a lot of information on your pages, it needs to be arranged in a way that does not overwhelm the user. 
  • Clear calls to action. Make it obvious what steps you want site visitors to take.
  • Relevance and direction. Do not put images or files that are irrelevant to the subject on the page and make sure there is a clear desired sequence of actions for users to take. This can be accomplished by the use of logos, images, and fonts. 
  • High-quality content that is SEO optimized. Previous trends in web design saw a de-emphasis on the quality of content in favor of quantity. However, recent changes to Google search algorithms are meant to prioritize high-quality expert crafted and reliable content as well as to minimize actions meant to cheat search engine rankings, like keyword loading, spurious links, and content farming. 
  • A solid balance between text and images. Too much text is discouraging while too little is disengaging. 
  • Responsive design. Due to the prevalence of mobile devices like phones and tablets, many web designers tailor their sites to adapt to the screen size and resolution of other devices. Responsive design is designing a site to reorient itself on different size screens. 
  • Web-safe fonts. The industry standard for fonts is sans serif. This is because serifs on letters appear somewhat blotchy on computer screens, especially low resolution one. 

In general, successful web design is one that makes users “convert.” In web design terminology, convert means to get the user to do some specific action, like click on a link or read a body of the text. That’s why the above techniques are found in successful sites; they are good at getting users to convert and take some specific action. 

Examples of Bad Web Design

Just as there is good web design, there is bad web design. Let’s take a look at some examples of web design. In general, bad web design is any feature that frustrates the user or makes them work. Bad web design is a design that is not intuitive or straightforward.

  • Distracting backgrounds. Distracting backgrounds take attention away from the main elements of the site. As a general rule of thumb, stay away from tiled backgrounds.
  • Poor contrast. Elements on the screen should be properly colored so they can be clearly distinguished between each other. Poor contrast can make elements blend into each other and make them a pain to read. 
  • Lack of responsive design. In today’s mobile-dominated world, responsive web design is basically a must-have. 
  • Bad links and multiple CTAs. Make sure to check the functionality of your links and that they are clearly and unambiguously identified. Also, make sure to not present more than one CTA to users at a time. Too many CTAs can confuse users. 
  • Inconsistent style. Your sites web design is its personality, and conflicting elements can make your brand's identity unclear. For example, text on pages should be the same format, and the site should use a recognizable color scheme throughout its pages. 
  • Generic stock images and low-quality irrelevant content. 

History of Web Design

In many ways, the start of web design is contemporaneous with the invention of the web itself. After its initial inception by Tim Berners-Lee in 1991, the World Wide Web consisted mainly of text-only pages. However, 1993 aw the release of the very first web browser that integrated web design elements such as images and sounds. After that, there were several advances in web design technologies and strategies that seek to capitalize on the graphic design capabilities of web browsers.

Around 1996 when Microsoft released their first competitive browser, The introduction of HTML markup for tables helped web designers realize the potential for complex multi-column layouts. These layouts had some limitations though. 

In 1996, Javascript was released to fix the limitations of HTML. The introduction of Javascript was a boon for web design as it gave web designers a way to dynamically modify the order of elements on the site. The further release of Flash in 1996 helped web designers break free from the limitations of HTML only design and allowed web designers to create any shape, layout, animation, or interaction they wanted, all in a single tool. 

In 1998, a design format called CSS (Cascading style sheets) was born. CSS changed the game by separating web content from web presentation. The content was to be defined in HTML while look and formatting were defined in CSS. CSS and HTML are currently two of the more popular formatting styles used for web design, though they have gone through many iterations and changes since their respective inceptions. 

Beginning in the 21st century, the internet has become more central to virtually everybody’s lives. The introduction of mobile web-devices resulted in a need to address the different formats and compatibilities issues of different mobile devices. The solution was to use the same content but have two distinct layouts. This is a responsive web design, and it is now basically an industry standard in web design. 

How Can I Get Good Web Design?

Learning about the right way to do website design is hard, but you do not have to do it alone. 

The ideal method for getting a web design done differs depending on your personal needs; i.e., what kind of company you are, how complex your site needs to be, how much you are willing to spend, and how much web design knowledge you yourself know. 

One way to learn web design is simply getting your hands dirty and trying yourself. This can be a good choice if you have some prior web design experience. However, in today's fast-paced world taking the time to learn appropriate web design skills eats into time you could be using to promote your brand. 

You can work one-on-one with a freelance web designer who can help you pick the style and feel of your site. Working with a freelancer is a decent idea if you have a smaller website that you just need to get off the ground. 

Another way is to invest in a web design builder. Template driven web-builders, like Wix of Squarespace, offer an intuitive drag and drop interface that lets you put together your site however you want; no coding knowledge necessary. Template driven web design tools are useful, but if you do not know the specifics of web design, you are limited to the tools they provide you. 

That’s why there exist web designs companies that offer their web design services to clients. Hiring a web design company takes the stress of site design off your shoulders and leverages the expertise of specialists to create an appealing site that will attract and retain viewers. Acquiring the services of a web design company is a good idea if you have a complex site that needs to be constructed from scratch. Many web design companies also offer other web related services, such as web hosting and domain registration. 

Here at Zeus Host, we offer a wide variety of web design services along with web hosting services. Our web design services can help your site get the look you desire. If you need comprehensive web design services, make sure to take a look at our web design services.